I walked briskly out of my classroom on my way to consult with one of my teacher colleagues. Suddenly at the turn in the corridor I froze. My hand flew to my face and I realised that I wasn’t wearing a mask. I doubled back and quickly rounded again as I remembered that it was no longer a mandatory requirement in our school.
It will still be a while before those little panic attacks fade away completely. During the last two years we’ve talked about the new normal of sanitisation, social distancing and mask protection. All of it has been turned on its head as we celebrate our new-found freedom.
Our old habits are returning. I’m surprised at how quickly it is all happening. The bottom line is that people need the support of family and friends. We’ve been lonely and now we crave the normality and way of life that we had before COVID.
The sporting arena was missed by many. The return to the games, racing and other sporting activities is bringing a welcome opportunity to get out there and enjoy the prowess of others.
The return of full attendance at GAA Championship games has been a pure tonic. Things we took for granted before COVID without a thought are now relished in the sheer joy of just doing and being.
The hustle and bustle of match day starts early, getting the farm jobs out of the way. My first outing on the championship journey was to support Tipp against Waterford. I met my two nieces Aoife and Áine in Waterford and we enjoyed the day and the game despite our side losing.
On arrival, the smell of sausages and rashers frying greeted me. It reminded me that a game can be much more than just that
It was good to be back finding parking places, walking with the crowd, listening to the banter between rival jerseys, hearing the sounds “get your hats, scarves and headbands now!” Strangers with one purpose to support the home county.
Conor Bowe, my nephew, is on the Tipp panel this year and it has added hugely to our excitement and enjoyment of the matches. Next up was Clare in Semple Stadium. I struck for Tipp, calling to Phil, Mary and the Bowe household.
On arrival, the smell of sausages and rashers frying greeted me. It reminded me that a game can be much more than just that. It’s also an opportunity for family and catching up. There’s a match crowd and routine depending on who’s playing.
Dad missing from the homestead in Tipperary is a big change for us. The GAA was a huge part of his life and our visits on those days brought him great happiness. Still, thankfully, the games go on. Tipp did not have a good day out and Clare emerged victorious and the mountain got harder to climb.
Last Sunday was a beautiful day and I set out for The Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. We had terrace tickets and as I waited for the girls, I savoured the joy of the crowd. The jerseys were visible as there was no need for coats. People were meeting up and thrilled to see each other.
Children were excited and there was a great buzz about the stadium. The girls arrived and we found a grand place in the Clare end terrace. The pitch was in pristine order.
Tipp met Limerick head on and for 60 minutes we had a tension filled game with magnificent hurling and real fun. The champions went up a gear and Limerick finished with a convincing seven-point win.
We have one more game to play and then my journeying to championship matches will be over. It’s strange to have it all done and dusted before the end of May.
It is a massive honour to wear the county jersey and we’d have no games without the commitment of all involved but especially the players. They give it everything and I thank them for giving us great enjoyment. It will take a great team to beat Limerick in 2022. Tipp will be back. Take heart lads.