Men in Tights

The Irish team land in Oz.

With Australia set to field what is considered their strongest ever team in this weekend’s International Rules Test, it was an interesting piece of reverse psychology by Irish management to get the players to travel in fancy dress as Robin Hood’s men in Tights.

Yes we know, before the players and performance coaches get all antsy with us we know they were compression tights designed to keep the muscles in good order during the long haul, but they could have been removed before the lads pranced through departures. The Aussies will be dungin the togz watching that. Of course they will. As the oul fella says when he saw it on the telly, look at the shape of them bollixes. And when he recognized big Murphy the man was affronted completely.

Lets hope they win the match, then everyone will be wearing tights. Up with that sort of thing.

The Game for Anto

“Great moments are born from great opportunity. That’s what you have here tonight boys.”
Herb Brooks in Miracle

Once again the GAA community has shown itself capable of great things, supporting its own, getting behind a cause and supporting one of its own. A few years ago the thought of a GAA match in Ravenhill would have been fanciful nonsense, dismissed, derisory.

Anto Finnegan was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease a couple of years ago and determined to do something positive he established his deterMND campaign to do something about it. All those icebucket challenges you saw during the summer? Many were in aid of Motor Neurone Disease. It is incurable but Anto Finnegan has ensured it is not.

The Game for Anto was more than a game for Anto. The St Paul’s man captured the imagination of the public. The Irish News backed the concept from the start and had the brainwave to field their All Star team, a prestige outfit recognised each year for their exploits in Ulster and beyond. They had never fielded before. Many of the guys that played had been opponents of Anto over the years. A few were teammates.

With Casement Park currently undergoing redevelopment, the Ulster Branch of the IRFU agreed to host the event at the Kingspan Stadium, the stadium formerly know as Ravenhill, with proceeds going to the Motor Neurone Disease Association to support research into MND.

That in itself was an important moment for local sport. Much was made of the GAA allowing other sports to be played in Croke Park. It was significant and welcoming that the game was played on Ulster rugby’s home turf.

It shows that for the right reasons sport rises above a lot of the other nonsense in this part of the world. Sometimes it takes the likes of an Anto to come along and show us that. It was a fitting game, played in a good spirit. It was a great moment for local sport. And with it, perhaps there some a great opportunity.