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Nuala McCann: Tyrone's All-Ireland triumph and Emma Raducanu's US Open win capture the spirit of an age coming out of pandemic

Tyrone's Kieran McGeary with the Sam Maguire at the end of this month's All-Ireland football final - a victory of youth, vigour and hope. Picture by Philip Walsh

TYRONE and Emma Raducanu all in one day - youth, vigour, hope, triumph... All my Christmases come together.

Celebrations are sweet after troubled times - you need the darkness to let the light shine through.

In dark times Bob Ross, the artist with the afro who presents The Joy of Painting, gave us that bit of advice.

We whisper the colours, marvel at how he draws "happy trees" and scold when he adds that big rock or a log cabin at the end.

"No Bob, no log cabin, no over-egging your pudding. The picture works without it."

I feel like we've aged 100 years since the first lockdown.

Then Tyrone brought Sam home.

Raducanu, lion-like in last Saturday's match brought joy.

Tennis is one of our retirement ideas.

Some day, when this is all over, we'll book big Davy down at the Ozone - he taught all the kids - and we'll get on to the court and smash like pros.

Every Twelfth of July, we used to go out on the street and play tennis.

It was the only time when you could do so freely - it was eerily quiet, no cars to annoy us.

Last Saturday's victories were all about youth and vigour; beauty and hope.

They captured the spirit of an age coming out of pandemic, a new age with golden moments.

Raducanu is one of the hottest properties in sport following her stunning US Open success.

Meanwhile, progress out of said pandemic is slow about here - think giant tortoise on a beach in the Galapagos ambling forward at a funereal pace.

My favourite programme at the moment is Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing.

It's not really about fishing. The fishing is by the by.

It's really about gentle humour between old friends.

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing stars the endearing Bob Mortimer and his mate, Paul.

Whitehouse seems to have a clue what he's at and Bob... well, Bob is Bob. You just couldn't help loving him.

He used to be a lawyer and was crowned the Cockroach King by one of the local newspapers after he took on the case of residents who had an oversupply of beasties. He won.

The whole idea of the show came after Bob had a triple heart bypass and was feeling low. Whitehouse, who had also had heart problems, offered to take him out.

It's two men chatting about childhood, friendship, parents, loss, memories and children.

They laugh and slag each other off. They do silly things - like the loser has to flash his bum. It's about how you get older but don't feel older.

They chat about how you play football and you think it's like when you were young. Then someone shows you a photograph and you don't look like that at all.

Time flies and leaves you stunned in the backdraft.

My sisters and I took a trip down to "the house" last week - our home for 60 years, the home that needs clearing out...

It's almost a year since our mother died and there are 60 years of accumulated books and linen and stuff to sort.

The books themselves take some sorting. There are forest loads there. I take a cold clinical eye and get on with the removal.

"Do you think I'm ruthless?" I ask my sister.

"A little," she replies.

But some things have to be done.

I save what I think are the good books and put the old paperbacks in boxes, off to the charity shop.

Ma would certainly have approved of that.

And then my sisters and I decide that enough is enough and take the road "up the Port in the motor" - you need to say that with a sturdy north Antrim accent.

It's our version of Gone Fishing - time to chill out and have a joke.

We walk miles on an empty beach - isn't it great when the children are back in their nice warm schools?

We watch paddle boarders wobbling, and I'm thinking that when all this is over, I'm taking up tennis and paddle boarding and just having fun.

We chat about mum and the laugh we had the day we went to Ballycastle and she wanted to haul half a log of driftwood home from the beach for her fire.

Now is the season for letting go.

Now when I turn the key in the door at her house, I no longer feel I should shout her name.

She's no longer there. I can't feel her the same way. She is miles from us now... gone fishing perhaps.

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