|"Sport expands hugely like the Michelin Man"|
Sport expands hugely like the Michelin Man in these surreal summer days and weeks when the holiday season impacts heavily on all our realities. This is especially so in an Olympian year like this.
Life and living seems to revolve around sporting matters rather than the other way around. It is passing strange.
I suppose sport, in all its many forms, is the manna of the masses. Where would we be without it?
So Bolt bolts and the Tiger scrabbles again for his place at the top of the golfing world, and new Wimbledon champ Federer seems ageless and the Formula One circus snarls around the globe, and the Tour de France proves again that some men have iron lungs and legs -- with or without drugs -- and wonder horses appear on the racetracks every second day, and heavyweight boxers with amazing nicknames posture on TV for weeks before their substandard fights, and we soak it all up as from a sponge.
Here in Ireland we currently have the Gaelic football and hurling championships in full frenzy, and that is always special even though in recent years it is almost always the same teams that walk away each September with Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy, the venerable trophies.
At time of writing Kilkenny again look to have hurling glory in sight and, even though the Kerry footballers have been unseated in Munster by Cork, there is nowadays a "back door" qualifying system for getting back into the fray, and we have not seen the last of them yet.
As always, too, sadly, my own poor Fermanagh are downed again. It is all great craic.
It is heartwarming that Gaelic games are still the most popular and populist sport in Ireland both north and south. Soccer and rugby, though spreading fast, are still way down the league.
Croke Park each September is still the field of dreams that really matters. No medal shines with as much luster as an All-Ireland medal for either football or hurling. Or camogie (ladies hurling) for that matter. They are possessions beyond price in the oak cabinet of our culture.
It is for that reason that the sporting story that most touched me in recent days, right to the heart, was a little few paragraphs of a thing buried deeply inside the back of a sports supplement dominated by the fallout from the Euro football tournament and Wimbledon's tennis and Olympian statistics.
This was a small Gaelic football story but, to me, it was uniquely special and wholesome. Can I explain why and maybe you will feel the same?
Basically what happened was that Waterford's girls faced Cavan in Birr in the hotly contested under-14 ladies football final. Waterford won by a thrilling two points in the end in a tussle which will never be forgotten in the county.
The winning team was backboned by captain Ciara Hurley, and it included Aoife Murray, Emma Murray and Katie Murray from Rathgormack and the Comeragh Rangers club. All three gave stellar displays, and Katie scored the goal that mattered as well as a couple of points.
And the Murrays will go forever into the Gaelic football histories because, believe it or not, they are triplets! They were born in April 1998 so they are just 14 years old, and all are pupils at Greenhills secondary school in nearby Carrick-on-Suir in Tipperary.
Just imagine the joy of winning an All-Ireland medal at 14 along with your triplet sisters! It is a feat which surely will never occur again.
Imagine the joy and pride of their parents Joe and Audrey Murray of Rathgormack. Picture the sideboard in that unique home.
Surely, despite the competition from other codes and disciplines in an Olympian year, this was a front page story rather than a filler towards the back.
I salute the magnificent Murray sisters and their parents, and I am sure many of you join with me in that.