Why Me?

I reckon I must hold some sort of record for speed while running the length of Dublin’s O’Connell St.

I was just home from Belgium one Sunday – after a great weekend of gigs with local band No Crows there, and I got a taxi from the airport into the city centre, planning on spending some of my weekend’s wages before getting the train home from Connolly station.

Until I realised that I left my wallet in the taxi. Full of said wages. And at that point in my career, it was about as much as I had ever been paid for a couple of gigs.

I looked up and the taxi was stopped at a red light a few hundred yards further down the street. I took off, determined to catch it, but just as I breathlessly approached, the lights changed and he sped off.

Not to worry – thankfully there were plenty of sets of traffic lights on this particular street, and so I kept sprinting in hope, but this pattern excruciatingly repeated itself time after time, until I finally gave up and forlornly watched the taxi disappear across the Liffey and down D’Olier St.

Now Paddy Grady and Tony Taylor knew nothing of this episode, but a few hours later I was collected from Ballymote train station by a member of the Coolera-Strandhill management team, driven across to the Eastern Harps GAA pitch at Keash, and lined out against my regular midfield rivals from that storied club.

And I had one of those games. I was never known as a goalscoring midfielder, but scored one that day almost straight from the throw-in, found energy reserves I didn’t know I had and caught the type of high ball I never did before or since.

And I have no doubt that the two events were linked.

‘Sport is not war, or death, or famine – it’s persuading us that there’s a world outside of that. That’s why sport’s important’ – so said Michael Parkinson when he was interviewed on the Second Captains podcast a number of years ago.

And while leaving a few hundred quid in a taxi can’t be equated to war, death, famine, or what many families are going through at the moment, the principle is the same.

Life isn’t always fun and games, perfume and roses, puppies and bunny rabbits. Which is precisely why we need sport. To go somewhere else for a while.

Because while sport is not at all important, it’s also hugely important.