10 August 2018 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Of the many beguiling facets of the profound triviality that is sport, one of the most compelling is its ability to bring people together under the flag of a common cause. With a power that even the most persuasive of political dogmas and religious tenets can only envy, the prospect of conspicuous sporting success, the journey of an individual or a team towards a prized goal, disintegrates everyday differences and makes a unity of the many who fall under its spell.

Thus, at national level in recent weeks, did Ireland follow with increasing fervour and fascination the heroic exploits of our women’s hockey team who rent the form book asunder in their thrilling odyssey to a World Championship silver medal. And, at local level, the same magic has been woven by the Monaghan senior and minor county footballers who this Sunday take to the hallowed sward of Croke Park to contest All-Ireland semi-finals.

Wherever people congregate in our towns and villages these days, the recent exploits and future fortunes of the senior and minor teams have predominated discourse. Over this long footballing summer and the attenuated tension of the new Super 8 All Ireland format, our county has forged an initially tentative but lately ardent intimacy with that most alluring of sport’s sirens – the prospect of glory.

As our Gaelic games correspondent J P Graham puts it in his compelling scene-setting piece on page one of this week’s edition, Monaghan is daring to dream – alive to the dangers of such a pursuit, perhaps, but increasingly confident that the desired outcome has much more substance that the traditional “such stuff that dreams are made on”.

The jury is very much still out on the new system for determining the ultimate holder of the Sam Maguire Cup. Beyond the commercial and revenue-generating purposes that are undoubtedly being served by the proliferation of matches, the Super 8 system has….

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