Super Shane strikes blow for all sports

Comment and Opinion – By Jimmy Rhatigan

THAT there is saturation coverage of Gaelic Games in our city and county, there is no doubt.

And, to be fair, few if any could argue that the games, particularly hurling which is part of many people’s staple sporting diet, should not be highlighted, in print and on the airwaves.

When you tell someone you may meet from the first time that you are from Kilkenny, the reaction is usually the same, ye have great hurlers.

Depending on a news outlet’s resources and capabilities, coverage is usually quite good and for the most part that would appear to satisfy the aficionados’ appetite for news and views about their favourites at county and club level, right down to the heroes of the future, our children who love pucking a sliotar.

We would wholeheartedly agree that the game of hurling, Gaelic Football and handball deserve their share of column inches and so many hours of airtime.

Most supporters of the black and amber will profess, hurling is part of what we are and there are those too who are in love with camogie, Gaelic Football and handball.

Our concern for other activities, games that sometimes are referred to as ‘minority sports’ are too often left out of the picture, pushed into what we might call a back seat in class perhaps.

We appreciate that at a time when many media outfits are forced to operate on small budgets, it is nigh impossible to give everyone the coverage they deserve.

The game of soccer locally has always got its share of press, basketball, rugby, golf, boxing and athletics are reasonably well looked after and our local tennis and canoe clubs would appear to have active public relations departments.

It was an amazing victory in a major horse race that put us thinking.

Good God, this young man has won in horse racing what is the equivalent of an All-Ireland hurling final and his news coverage was scant or to be brutally honest, very poor, at local level in particular.

Jockey Shane Foley, a proud and very talented son of Graignamanagh was on board Romanised that won the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at The Curragh.

And he followed up quickly at the same Curragh meeting by riding Platinum Warrior to victory in a Grade 3 Race.

It was an amazing double for the lad as in the Guineas, his trusty steed was up against top class opposition and was a complete outsider in the betting as a sun-kissed Curragh edged towards an afternoon classic, a race that Shane would have so dearly wanted to add to his 1,000 Guineas win of two years earlier.

Romanised started out at 40/1 but, like Shane, there were probably many from his native Graig and indeed lovers of the Sport of Kings all over Ireland who fancied a punt on a horse that was ridden by a brave jockey who is acknowledged as being in the higher echelons of his trade in the Republic of Ireland.

The money was piled on but at the ‘off’, Romanised was still on offer at the appetizing price of 25/1.

What followed was a fantastic display of superb riding by Shane who put in a brilliant finish with Romanised to romp to Guineas glory for the second time in his comparatively short career.

Romanised and Shane hit the jackpot and those who believe in fairytales, with a huge dollop of courage and talent, were doing some sort of a jig of delight.

Among those celebrating were Shane’s brother Richard and sister Ruth. Richard is Shane’s No. 1 fan and often has a wager that this brother and four-legged friend will be first past the winning post.

The victory was wonderful too for Shane’s caring parents, a great couple, the salt of the earth whose Harristown home is now a focal point of racing chat in Graignamanagh which also boasts the highly regarded Enda Bolger who trains horses for JP McManus.

Enda and Shane are cousins. Enda’s late mother and Shane’s late grandmother, both of whom have passed away, were sisters. Racing is in the boys’ blood.

Shane’s dad Dicko played for years for Highview Athletic Soccer Club and won many honours with a great outfit that boasted many great sporting warriors..

Mother Mel, formerly Meaney, comes from respected hurling stock and is now a huge fan of horse racing, along with the extended Foley family who are so devoted  to their pride and joy of the turf.

Shane’s marvellous achievement will no doubt have raised the tempo at McConville Bookmakers in Graig where local fans of horse racing showed their loyalty by digging into their pockets.

As we refer to so-called ‘minority sports’ we think too of Paul Cummins and his Kilkenny Storm Ice and Inline Hockey Club.

Here is a super outfit that encourages hundreds of children, adults too, in a city which does not have an ice hockey arena but has won competitions in many corners of the world.

Paul and his team of volunteers continue to work wonders as they perform what, without exaggeration, could be described as sporting miracles.

They have no home to go to, even to train they must travel and yet they hit the winning jackpot regularly as they prove to be magnificent ambassadors for our city and county.

We can only imagine what they would achieve had they got their own home, sweet home.

It is important that we continue to support the youngsters in particular who enjoy Gaelic Games as regardless of what level children play at, they benefit hugely from healthy activities.

But it is also vital that we should appreciate those who may not always hit the headlines but still have the dedication and bottle required to grab sporting headlines that they don’t always get.

Did somebody say at some time that we should cherish all of our children equally.

It is up to all of us to work to put that into practice.

At a time of concern when so many teens are opting out of sport at a young age our aim must be to encourage regardless of what game a young boy or girl plays.