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The crisis that keeps on giving…

 

 

The chaotic rollercoaster ride continues. On it goes, this not so magical mystery tour in which the passengers, unsure of their final destination or their exact fate, pass the time bickering furiously while wondering how they got into such strange territory in the first place.

  Brexit is the crisis that keeps on giving. With a few months to go to the UK’s EU exit, the sense of chaos is actually growing. Sure, you could expect brinkmanship as we approach the eleventh hour, but to suggest that our friends ‘across the water’ are playing a clever tactical  hand would surely be to give too much credit. More likely, it is what it looks like: utter chaos.

  One has to admire the tenacity of the Prime Minister, Ms. May. She is battling on gamely, despite the fact that her Conservative party is split, her Cabinet partly made up of rebels-in-waiting, some of whom have daggers and letters of resignation lying side by side in their briefcases.

  Widely seen as having been humiliated by EU leaders in Salzburg, the PM responded with fighting talk of her own the next day. Demanding respect from the EU, she is standing by her proposals for a deal on the UK’s exit, while reiterating that no deal is preferable to a bad one.

  On this side of the Irish Sea, we are to some extent at the mercy of others. The EU’s support for the Irish ‘no hard border’ position appears to be absolute. Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has been playing a blinder. He and Leo are talking in calm, measured tones, dripping in common sense. Still, the worry will be that if the critical Northern Ireland issue isn’t resolved/addressed until the very end, the Irish Government could be wrong-footed, forced into some kind of softening of its position by the EU/UK in the interests of a Brexit deal.

  Meanwhile, underlining the sense of last-minute chaos, the British Labour Party appears to be moving towards considering not just a People’s Vote, but maybe even an actual new referendum which would give the option of remaining in the UK.

  Anything could happen. We could even see Theresa May overthrown. We could have a UK General Election, followed by a Labour win, followed by a new referendum with ‘Remain’ as a tempting option. Maybe a bit far-fetched, but who knows?

  For now, the rollercoaster ride continues, hurtling towards Brexit on this not so magical mystery tour.

 

Great sporting theatre  as Tiger roars back

 

A magician with a golf club, and a bit of a time travel expert too, it seems.

  On Sunday night, that man Tiger made a lot of people somehow feel a lot younger!

  It was epic sporting theatre…as we watched the great Tiger Woods complete an astonishing sporting comeback.

  It was five years since he had last won on tour, but that ‘stat’ reveals little of this amazing story. The real story is why he didn’t win, why the man who is arguably the greatest golfer of all time couldn’t even dream of winning. Once on a golfing planet of his own, Woods had plunged the depths, to the point where he ‘couldn’t hit a ball further than 60 yards’.

  The darkness descended almost nine years ago. Revelations about his serial infidelities led to the break-up of his marriage in front of a stunned world. Subsequently, catastrophic back spasms led to the complete collapse of his capacity to play golf competitively. Several comeback attempts failed, sometimes in mid-tournament, Woods literally collapsing in agony in front of spectators. It was over, the genius now a memory in the minds of people ‘of a certain age’. Millions of young fans grew up hearing of Woods the legend, but seeing only a traumatised man in a lonely and seemingly doomed pursuit of his past. The odd time we saw Tiger on a golf course, he was a pathetic shadow of what he once was. His efforts to overcome injury and rebuild his game went from heroic to sad. Tiger was gone, replaced by a ghost of his great past.

  Yet… the man’s extraordinary persistence somehow kept him going, and this year he began to tentatively compete again. And, four back operations later, his body has given him a break. All year, Tiger’s consistently good play has stunned the golfing world, leaving us all to wonder if this story might just take us somewhere new.

  It took us to Atlanta, to a scene of sporting fantasy. Last Sunday as he claimed the Tour Championship, Tiger made us all feel a lot younger. We were back in 1997.

  This was the Tiger of old, leading from the front, sinking long putts, his sheer aura seeping the hope from the chasing pack.

  Walking towards the 18th hole with a two-stroke lead, Tiger was suddenly immersed in an image that will define him as much as those runaway major triumphs during his career peak. In extraordinary scenes, thousands of fans walked every foot of the way with Woods as he strode towards his redemption. This was Woods as a sporting Pied Piper, a Pied Piper with a sensational short game.

  When Woods sunk the putt that confirmed his win, millions of fans shared in his emotional outpouring of joy.

  Cue mayhem around the 18th, a kind of Mad Hatters Tea Party as players, fans and media mingled to celebrate the return of the past. Justin Rose, the likeable English golfer who had just won $10m, was good-humouredly apologising to anyone who would listen…because he had collected ten million and kind of crashed the party. But no-one was listening. If Rose had started handing out 50 dollar bills to people, no-one would have noticed.

  He served up some scandals, and he was always famous for being grouchy, but I think we are seeing a more humble man now, a more vulnerable and therefore more likeable person. Anyways, this isn’t a tale of morality or likeability; it’s the story of a sporting icon who captures the imagination of millions, also a story of extraordinary human spirit.

  The ghost is out of bounds, the genius is strutting his stuff in the middle of the fairways again. And the sight of Tiger hunting down the new generations of golfing superstars – the guys who might have thought they had escaped him – that’s going to be some fun. It’s a great sporting story revealing itself in our lifetimes.

 

 

 

 

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Roscommon