There’s an oft-repeated social media sentiment that goes along the lines, “Wouldn’t it be nice to live in precedented times?”
It has been aped to such a degree that I haven’t been able to find the original composer of the line but, essentially, he or she was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the negative things that seemed to be cropping up on a regular basis, with no time to take stock and just breathe.
However, it’s not always the case that unprecedented means bad.
Never before have Ireland gone into a rugby international against Australia as 14-point favourites but that is the scenario ahead of Saturday’s final game of the year for Andy Farrell’s side.
Still top of the world rankings after autumn wins over South Africa and Fiji, Ireland welcome a side currently in eighth– having been at an all-time-low of ninth in September.
In addition, they are coming off the back of a defeat to Italy last weekend.
While that defeat featured a number of fringe players, they won just two of six games in the Rugby Championship, against Argentina and South Africa, with both sides beating them well in the return fixtures while their final match was a 40-14 humbling against New Zealand in Auckland.
Their northern hemisphere fixtures have seen a narrow win over Scotland before a two-point defeat to France and then the Italy loss.
Tadhg Furlong, who captained Ireland to victory over Fiji, did say that the Australian result was likely to make them a “wounded animal” coming to Dublin this weekend but it’s very hard to ignite form and/or morale when they seem in short supply.
Ultimately, Australia’s current state should be of little import to Ireland, as this is enough of a test of the team in its own right.
Top sides don’t care who is put in front of them, they simply find a way to win, and another victory for Ireland would further underline their growing status.
The 35-17 win over Fiji will be memorable for Nick Timoney, who scored two tries, while Jack Crowley had an impressive debut after replacing the injured Joey Carbery.
What will be pleasing for Farrell and his management team is how the second-string players took an opportunity to show what they can do. At the end of the day, having multiple strong operators vying for selection in every position is what a head coach dreams of.
In the past, we have seen Ireland burdened by expectation in games such as this, but it wasn’t a problem against South Africa and there are no good reasons why Saturday should be different.
Pádriag Harrington set a new Champions Tour record on Sunday night, as a final-round 65 at the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Arizona gave him a total of 27 under par, seven shots clear of second-placed Alex Cejka.
The win gave Harrington a fourth victory in his first year on the Champions Tour, including the US Senior Open back in June.
It all amounted to total winnings of just under €3.5m – not too bad considering it’s a tour for senior players, i.e. those aged 50 or over.
There is a school of thought Harrington hampered his chances of contending at the top of golf by tinkering too much with his swing after winning three Major championships in the space of 13 months in 2007-08 – but that ignores the fact that it was the tinkering, and no lack of single-minded dedication, that brought him to where he was in the first place.
That he still has the drive to perform so well – his four rounds last weekend were all in the 60s – at the age of 51 speaks volumes. A little lesson for all of us, perhaps, that a lot of our limitations are in the mind.
To my eternal credit, I have never attacked a person in the street with a hurley (or a hurl, if you’re from the eastern part of the country – I’m still Denis Hurley when I travel to Leinster, though).
This has included times when I’ve happened to be carrying a hurley. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t believe that ease of access to something that can be used as a weapon means that it is the best course of action.
To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum’s character Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, just because one could do something, doesn’t meant one necessarily should.
In case you missed what became a viral phenomenon last weekend, this is in reference to the Leinster Club Senior Hurling Championship game between Dublin’s Naomh Barróg and Oulart The Ballagh of Wexford in Parnell Park.
Naomh Barróg won on penalties after normal time and extra time couldn’t separate the sides but, ten minutes from the end of the regulation 60 minutes, a large brawl broke out by the dugouts.
Players, substitutes, mentors and spectators were involved, with one individual in the stand seemingly seen striking another with a hurley.
While we sometimes see striking incidents on the pitch, this is generally covered by the fact that participants accept that there will be a certain level of physicality. However, anybody outside the wire is a layperson and to do what the pictures suggest is an act of assault.
Leinster Council chairperson Pat Teehan did make the case that these incidents are isolated but, to be fair, he acknowledged that they shouldn’t be brushed under the rug.
“We play hundreds of games every weekend in a spirit of enjoyment for both players and spectators and unfortunately we get isolated incidents which are rightly highlighted in the media and elsewhere, because they have no place in our games. We must deal with them in as harsh a manner as we can, but also in a fair manner.”
There does seem to be an increase in such episodes, a kind of a, “If it happened elsewhere, sure what harm if it happens here?” copycat effect.
Perhaps it’s indicative of a retrograde change in society but, as the main community organisation in the country, the GAA could take a lead by employing zero tolerance to such acts.