Hurling and camogie

Enjoy what you enjoy and ignore what you don't

CROSSING THE LION: Lions scrum-half Conor Murray crashes over for a try during Saturday’s win over New Zealand in the second Test in Wellington. The match was a thriller, but that wasn’t to the detriment of the weekend’s other sporting contests with each of them able to stand on their own merits Picture: PA

What will you be doing at half eight on Saturday morning? I'll be watching the deciding Test match between the British and Irish Lions and New Zealand. If that's alright with you. If that's not your plan, that's alright with me.

Even if you don't have the slightest interest in the Lions or rugby in general, if you have any interest in sport you'll be aware that it's happening. You won't need to follow tennis to be well aware Wimbledon over the next two weeks or be into cycling to know the Tour de France is on for the next three either.

These are big sporting occasions that will appeal to different people in different ways, or maybe not at all. The beauty of sport, or one of its beauties, is that you can find something for (almost) everyone.

Not everyone is enthralled by a Formula One race, but a lot of people are. Not everyone will be glued to every shot they can see of a golfing Major, but a lot of people will. Not everyone thinks hurling is head, shoulders and everything down to the toes better than every other sport invented, but they're wrong.

And not everyone cares that at half eight on Saturday morning the deciding Test match between the Lions and the All Blacks takes place at Eden Park in Auckland, but it seems that not caring about something just isn't enough for a lot of people in this day and age.

The social media echo chamber may be a head-wrecking place to be at the best of times, but when there's a big sporting event on the echoes only get louder. The Lions tour serves as a perfect example.

It's not enough for people to not care about something anymore. Indifference is translated into hostility. Not passing comment is impossible. It's as if non-rugby/non-Lions/non-getting up at half eight on a Saturday morning fans have been dragged out of bed and subjected to a Clockwork Orange style viewing of Sky Sports.

In the past the reaction to not caring about something was simply to not care about it. Now it's: “I don't care about this! Where's Twitter so I can not care about it in 140 characters!”

It's a chance for the indignant sports fan to play the role of people with no interest in soccer who lose the ability to find a television channel apart from the two that are showing a major international tournament every couple of summers.

It's not enough to simply enjoy the sports you enjoy, increasingly it needs to be at the cost of the sports you have no time for.

In case you missed the incredibly subtle crack about hurling above, it's my favourite sport. Nothing else comes close. That's not me being a hurling snob, that's just the way I feel. And I'm right. Just the way you're right if you feel the same about Gaelic football or soccer or cricket or anything else.

Unfortunately hurling snobbery is a real thing but it's more than thinking it's the greatest game, it's dragging it into arguments than have nothing to do with it.

As Cahair O'Kane pointing out in his column in this paper yesterday, Gaelic football (a clear number two on the favourite sport chart, in case you're keeping score) has to put up with lazy, outdated negative rhetoric that in large part doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

Often hurling becomes an unwilling accomplice in this. Want to take a cheap shot against football? Easy, just compare it to hurling. You can rest assured that if this Sunday's Connacht football final between Galway and Roscommon is a dour stinker – which there's a decent chance it will be – and the Munster hurling decider that follows it between Cork and Clare is a high-scoring cracker – again, there's every possibility – they'll be brought into the same conversation, set next to each other and the praise for events at Thurles will reflect poorly on those in Salthill.

If hurling – or any sport – is so great it should be able to stand on its own merits. If Gaelic football – or any sport – is so bad it should be because of its own problems, not what it looks like compared to something else.

The anomaly of two totally different games being so closely linked leads to this but it does both a disservice. Like football folk crying out for black cards in hurling every time someone gets dragged down, it's missing the point. One has nothing to do with the other. Just because they're played on the same pitch doesn't mean they're the same thing.

Last Saturday night I watched Kilkenny beat Limerick in a hurling Qualifier that was nothing special, but still good enough to hold my attention for 70 minutes. The previous Saturday, Down and Monaghan had me riveted to the screen for every second of their Ulster football semi-final.

There's nothing wrong with that, but the football wasn't so good because the hurling was so so-so. Sport's not a zero sum game where positivity has to be balanced by slagging something else off. There's more than enough to go round for everyone.

I was able to watch the Lions beat the All Blacks on Saturday and not worry that it might reflect badly on Derry's game against Mayo later in the day which, as it happens, it didn't, at least until extra-time. I'm also able to ignore stuff I'm not interested in without feeling the need to question why someone else is.

Apart from the fact what other people might choose to enjoy has no adverse effect on the stuff you do care about, it just seems like far too much effort for me, especially at half eight on a Saturday morning.

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