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From Shut Door To Window Of Opportunity

by Jimmy Rhatigan

The battle of the South East wasn’t to be.
At first two cases of Covid-19 in the Wexford camp cast a shadow of doubt over the confrontation.
Hurling hearts sank in Strawberry land and in the home of the famous Black Cat.
Then there was a welcome reprieve.
Wexford would be in UPMC Nowlan Park on Sunday come hell or high water.
Or at least so the Wexicans believed.
The clash of the ash got a thumbs up from on high.
Noisy neighbours had been gagging for a game even though the match would be played in the sound of silence, with spectators still confined to couches and armchair telly viewing.
Kilkenny and Wexford aficionados of the small ball game love a hurling joust.
To a majority in both counties, hurling is more than a game.

It is a way of life; a tribal war of beauty, brilliance and bravery but mostly without rancour.
Nevertheless, there is always a cutting edge.
And then there are those famous or perhaps infamous bragging rights.
Then along came the kick in the posterior that nobody wanted to hear about.
The game was postponed, maybe cancelled.
A third case of Covid put the kibosh on what would possibly have been a classic between neighbours’ children who had won their opening games after months of enforced hibernation.
It was akin to being served a pint of glorious Guinness in your local pub on a Christmas morning.
Then the Gardai arrived and the juice of the barely took on the guise of a forbidden fruit.
Diehard supporters like Danny Lahart, Johnny Purcell, Eddie Cody and Jim Rohan were looking forward to match day as if it were the date of all of their birthdays.
They were broken hearted.

Yet they knew that rescheduling the beautiful game was a positive and sensible decision, not only for the pastime they cherish, but for all of our community.
The blow was softened by the knowledge that beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach.
Meantime hurling chit chat will continue to be the daily bread of the greater South East community.
One day, soon, strawberry fields will be temporarily abandoned.
Cats will prowl and hurleys will be drawn in a war that never has victims.
Yes there will be a winner and a loser.
The great escape for the vanquished is that there is always a rematch.
While there was disappointment at the late, late deferral, the consolation has to be the joy of looking forward to the re-fixed game.
When a door is closed, there is always a window of opportunity.

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