The Tipperary panel of players pictured celebrating in 2010
It is Saint Stephen’s Day 2020 and I’m sat in front of the telly. The leftover turkey ‘n’ ham is piled up on the plate and the referee is about to throw the sliotar in, at the start of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship final – between Tipperary and Limerick.
Croke Park officials have been busy all week removing snow from the pitch and defrosting sliotars. The above scenario may seem a bit farfetched, yet, when you consider that inter-county matches may not – at the time of writing- begin until the autumn. It may not be so unbelievable.
I wouldn’t describe myself as an avid GAA fan, but I do enjoy watching Tipperary play. I like the bunting and the flags appearing – around this time- in the towns and villages around the county.
My humble contribution, each year is to place a small flag on a tree in the front garden. I miss having ‘the dinner’ and then settling down to watch the battle commence. These simple rituals – which we took for granted - have been taken from us by the dreaded virus.
There is some hope. This week certain sporting amenities around the town have reopened, under Phase 1 of the ‘Roadmap for Reopening Ireland.’ Hillview Sports Club have reopened by following strict health and safety guidelines. Groups of four can exercise within 5kms of their home and people can now play sport on a real playing pitch.
We all know the list of shops which have been instructed to open, under Phase 1. To remind everyone: hardware stores, builders’ merchants, garden centres, opticians, car sale rooms, shops selling bicycles, electrical, IT and phone sales and shops selling office products. Homeware stores have not been included. I can buy a car but not a frying pan, strange. This will make an enormous difference to the commercial activity in the town of Clonmel. Already in the weeks leading up to the beginning of Phase I, shops have been busy painting and sanitizing their premises.
Social distancing signage and floor graphics now direct shoppers around the premises and are becoming a familiar feature of our, daily shop. Perspex sneeze screens now separate us from the shopworker, and they can be found strategically located at most cash points. Some shops have ‘one way’ systems which guide us – safely- to our destination, the check out. The phrase often used, is that this is the ‘new normal’. It seems, from the activities of Clonmel shopkeepers, that this new way of doing things will be around for a long while. In the interest of public safety, we must familiarise ourselves with and adapt to a new type of shopping experience.
So, we may be without a Munster final or the Euros this summer. We won’t get to see the Olympic games or the Dublin Horse show. Comfort yourselves folks with news of individuals incessantly regaling us with their individual sporting achievements. Fellas who have decided – nobody asked them – to climb Kilimanjaro while carrying a grand piano, in their back gardens. Other fellas – it’s always fellas- swimming the English Channel in their upstairs bathroom. The list is endless. Give me Tipperary V Cork, any day.