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brennan's brief If anyone can help us through the dark days ahead it's our sportsmen and women

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Dublin's Con O'Callaghan is tackled by Eoin Harkin of Meath during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 6 match

Dublin's Con O'Callaghan is tackled by Eoin Harkin of Meath during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 6 match

SPORTSFILE

Dublin's Con O'Callaghan is tackled by Eoin Harkin of Meath during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 6 match

Many, many, strange things have happened in this sporting and Covid-ravaged year of 2020. And Real Madrid losing 3-2 at home last night to a team with 13 senior players unavailable because of the virus is surely up there with the best of them.

But an All-Ireland Football Final less than a week before Christmas Day? Now that’s taking the biscuit.

But that’s the world into which the GAA is heading on Saturday when Dublin and Laois hurlers get the 2020 Championship season underway.

With that game, the GAA are ‘damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.”

The Public Health experts have said it is ok for the inter-county season to go ahead. Others wonder how that can be, if they cannot go into their neighbours' house to open a can of beer and watch the match together on the telly.

Are the GAA being used as a salve to soothe our wounds in these troubled times? When the first lockdown came along, we knew not what was ahead of us, but there was good weather and every day that passed brought another minute and a half of welcome light at either end of the day.

Now, we know what is ahead of us. Now we know too that from next Sunday there will be an extra hour of darkness at the close of the day – and we know we are surely heading into combinations of wind, rain, cold and maybe snow. We are heading into darkness in more ways than one.

Can the GAA help us keep our sanity by at least putting on matches? Yes, it can, and that is why, no outbreaks among teams permitting, the games will go on.

We’ll deal with the issue of celebrations later. I can’t imagine too many public gatherings if the Dubs win another Leinster title, or Kilkenny wrap up the hurling in the same province.

But now, Mayo winning the Sam or Wexford hurlers taking the All-Ireland deep in December? Well it would be a brave politician who would say to the people that you cannot take to the streets of Castlebar or Enniscorthy that night. A politician with a short shelf life too!

We’ll worry about that kind of stuff later. For now, the games are going on and let us celebrate that. A win for Ireland’s women’s soccer team in Ukraine tonight will leave them staring at a place at Euro 2021.

Oh, and an Irish cyclist, Dan Martin, starts today stage of the Tour of Spain in second place. And we haven’t yet had a flat stage in the race that our flying sprinter Sam Bennett can win. Yes, if anyone can help us through these crazy days it is Ireland’s sportsmen and women.

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