AS WE enter into a new year there are a few phrases that I hope will be well and truly be behind us by the summer.
By then phrases like, ‘restricting movement’, ‘self-isolating’ and ‘bubble’ are ones that hopefully will be in the past and we all are moving on with our lives.
Of course, we have to follow all health advice and there are many who have lost loved ones, heart-breaking at any time, but more so during the pandemic, as families were unable to mourn them properly.
In early December, I was paying a visit to my own father’s grave on the anniversary of his passing and coincidentally there were two funerals while I was there. To see so few people walking behind the hearses was a sad sight and as I walked away it made me think of all we should be thankful for in life.
One of them, for me, is the opportunity to attend sports events, across a variety of sports for many years. Lots of times reporting for this paper, but also plenty more just as a fan.
I have always considered myself lucky to be in a position to attend and cover sporting events for this paper and over the last year, this has really hit home.
To walk into empty venues, where normally thousands would be, was in some ways disturbing at times.
As you looked around in the eery silence you realised just how lucky you were to be there to get to see ‘live’ some of the great games that took place across the season.
The streaming of many club games by the Irish Examiner and clubs let many more see games that would have otherwise simply gone unobserved. Add in the broadcasting of inter-county ties by RTÉ, TG4, and Sky Sports and it allowed thousands that could not be there the chance to at least see some matches.
But, as any true sports fan would agree, there is nothing like being there. Nothing like turning to someone beside you to celebrate a great score with someone you don’t even know but for that game ye are the best of friends.
And then walking out of the ground with your family and friends to dissect every bit of it whether you have won, lost, or drawn.
For the players, they have missed the roar of the crowd as they have taken to the pitch or when they make a great tackle and hit a vital score.
With the vaccine being rolled out, we all can only hope that those days will be back soon and all going well the clamour for tickets for games will return this year.
Looking back on last season there were many outstanding moments, with two of them coming against our near-neighbors and arch-rivals.
Mark Keane wrote himself into the history books with his goal against Kerry and for the following few days it put smiles on the faces of Rebel fans and no doubt will continue to do so for many years.
Of course, we all would have liked to see Cork go on and win the Munster title and who knows after that had they done so, but that goal will always be special.
Have no doubt it has been replayed thousands of times by now and will be a moment that fans will possibly have stored on their phones, laptops to look at if they ever need a bit of a boost.
But another Cork player also did something special against Kerry, that sadly not too many will have seen as it didn’t get the same coverage.
The Cork ladies footballers had to make the trip to Tralee for their opening group game in the TG4 All-Ireland series at the start of November.
Early on corner-forward Saoirse Noonan, who also lines out with Cork City FC, scored a goal that proved to be the difference between the sides in the end.
But the bit of individual skill that saw her dribble up the wing, soccer-style, beating several defenders, before deftly flicking the ball up into her hand to point was worth being there alone for.
Sadly, unlike Keane’s, not too many have seen that moment of magic and if they had they would be talking about it for a long time as well.
Roll on the new season and all going well by the summer the crowds will be back and the craic will only be mighty again.