Wednesday 22 January 2020

I couldn't look a gift horse in the mouth

Weird Wide World of Sport

Stephen McDonnell of Cork in action against Shane Ben nett of Waterford during the Munster Senior hurling championship semi-final at Semple Stadium
Stephen McDonnell of Cork in action against Shane Ben nett of Waterford during the Munster Senior hurling championship semi-final at Semple Stadium

Dave Devereux

I've never been one for Hallmark holidays.

Even the tacky, plasticised carry-on that masquerades for romance on St. Valentine's Day leaves me as cold as a drifting iceberg in the Arctic Ocean in the cruel depths of winter, so when it comes to things like Grandparents' Day, Sweetest Day and Hug a Red Squirrel Day I'm as non-plussed as Ronnie O'Sullivan when he's not in the mood.

Obviously going by that rationale, Father's Day shouldn't be my cup of tea, but hey, sometimes you've just got to go with the flow.

It's hard not to embrace a day when you and fellow daddies are being celebrated, us dutiful men-folk that through the years have learnt to change nappies without so much as a wretch, helped our little darlings with their maths homework with the patience of a long-suffering Liverpool fan, and shouted encouragement from the sidelines, while carefully keeping the colourful language in check.

Starting the day with breakfast in bed is a rare enough treat, but to receive gifts as well - It was like Christmas in the middle of summer but there wasn't a pair of stripy socks or a bottle of pungent aftershave in sight.

One of the biggest benefits of this third Sunday in June celebration malarkey is the now annual tradition of me skulking off for an afternoon of guilt-free sports viewing and maybe an ice-cool beverage or two.

The first thing on the sporting menu was the Ulster championship clash between Tyrone and Donegal and, a bit like getting served breakfast without having to surface from beneath the duvet, the quality of football and score-taking was a pleasant surprise, particularly from the Red Hand men.

However, like a prize pugilist, once Tyrone had their opponents on the ropes the match petered out as they confidently illustrated all their ring craft.

Thankfully, the Munster hurling championship semi-final that followed was in the balance for much longer, but in truth a classy Cork outfit could have delivered the knockout blow far earlier as punch-drunk Waterford hung on for dear life.

The reinvigorated Rebels had too much verve and gusto for their opponents on a sweltering day in Semple Stadium, and although Waterford did all they could to cling on to their coat-tails, Cork eventually sapped them of their energy with the same determination and intensity as the unforgiving afternoon sun overhead.

So now we have a Cork-Clare Munster final and a Wexford-Galway Leinster final to look forward to. Not even the late, great renowned soothsayer Paul the Octopus could have predicted such unlikely pairings.

It's hard to fathom that in early-July last year a much-maligned Cork outfit were outgunned by Wexford in the qualifiers, with the Slaneysiders in turn suffering a heavy defeat against Waterford in the following round a fortnight later.

With Wexford and Cork supporters riding on the crest of the wave for the time being, fans of the Deise now find themselves in the minefield that is the qualifiers, with last year's All-Ireland finalists Tipperary and Kilkenny also bobbing in those shark-infested waters.

That leads me on nicely to another subject that's been invading my mind, and I couldn't let this week's column pass without a mention of two ridiculous sporting events that are on the horizon, namely Conor McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Michael Phelps versus a great white shark.

One is a complete freakshow, and the other an Olympic legend swimming against a shark.

Wexford People

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