Tiger

I’ve always followed golf with gusto and have huge admiration for golfers who can rise to the top and hold their nerve to win Majors. There’s so little between the top 200 golfers and most of it seems to be in the head and heart rather than in actual talent, ability and practice.

While I obviously have a very soft spot for golfers from the island of Ireland and we tend to punch above our weight in this sport, Seve, Tiger and Ian Poulter are heroes of mine.

Tiger’s recent accident was an absolute shocker and I truly hope that he can come out of it without too much ongoing pain and distress.

I thought Rory McIlroy’s comments were very humane when he said that the main thing is that Tiger survived the accident and that his kids still have a father. Also that golf isn’t at the core of this equation when taken in its full perspective.

Yes, Tiger, like us all is a flawed character but his golfing ability is truly awesome (not a word I normally use!).

His ability to comeback after so many back operations has been inspirational but if he doesn’t make a comeback after these latest injuries, we are very fortunate to have lived to see such a talented, determined golfer and hopefully he will stay very much within the game as he has so much to give from his vast experience.

I wish him all the very best and thank him for the host of memorable moments watching him play over the years.

My Dream Sportsmen

Sport has always been one of my passions and I was thinking today of a time when my Mother would be trying to gauge how ill I was when I was hit with ‘flu or some grotty virus around this time of year. Her question always was: If John Newcombe came to the front door, would you be able to get up and have a little chat with him? She’d know it was time to call the doctor if I snuggled further under the blankets and said: No.

I had posters of John Newcombe covering every inch of my bedroom wall and I watched every single match he played that I could possibly manage to get on our early televisions which really only showed Wimbledon. But if John Newcombe is at No. 1, who are the remaining 9 who grace my list of 10?

#1. John Newcombe – tennis

#2. Seve Ballesteros – golf

#3. Roger Bannister – athletics

#4. Captain Michael Tubridy – my uncle – showjumping

Captain Michael Tubridy on Ballynonty.

#5. Muhammad Ali – boxing

#6. Ken Doherty – snooker

# 7. Bob Champion – horse racing

#8. John Mullane – hurling

#9. Marcus Rashford – soccer

#10. Roger Federer – tennis

Who would be the 10 sportsmen of YOUR dreams?

My Waterford Heart is Hurting

Today was the All-Ireland Hurling Final and Waterford were there in a closed stadium trying to win their first All-Ireland since 1959.

We lost to a very strong Limerick team and it was hard going listening to the match on the radio.

I know it’s only a game but it is about a good bit more than that. We have taken all the players to our hearts and know how much they have trained and run themselves ragged on our behalf. What a lonely journey home for them this dark December night. The Championship normally ends in September.

We have had three finals now in recent years but getting our hands on the cup is extraordinarily difficult.

The difference to the county between winning and losing is immense. No, there wouldn’t have been public celebrations and homecomings but we Waterfordians would have walked with our heads held high and has a real sense of pride.

It’s a few hours since the game ended and we are trying to console ourselves that the lads gave their all, left every ounce of energy on the field, will learn from the experience, will live to fight another day.

All these things are true but a little bit of my heart broke today as I suspect that some of my heroes may well retire now without ever getting to savour the victory they worked so tirelessly for.

I just hope the players know that we recognize how hard they tried and how beloved they are and always will be to the vast army of Waterford supporters.

Our colours are blue and white and these are colours that are part of our natural coastal county.

Waterford Waves

It’s by no means the end of the world but it is one of those communally sad days which I hope will make us even more united, determined and thankful.

Deise Abu

One Puck at a Time

As some of you may know, I am a staunch Waterford hurling supporter – hurling is one of Ireland’s national games and is arguably the fastest team sport in the world.

Anyway, last night Waterford beat our neighbors, Kilkenny, to make it to the All-Ireland Final in two weeks time.

It was a game of two halves. Waterford were dire in the first half and then got into full flow in the second half, playing like men possessed.

Kilkenny are the masters in this sport over the decades and Waterford haven’t won an All-Ireland since 1959.

Being in the final is one thing but there is an absolute yearning to go one better and win the Championship. It certainly won’t be easy, that’s for sure but this is a Waterford team driven by passion, hard work and inspiration from legendary players of the past who should have All-Ireland medals.

It was such a tense affair last night that I certainly couldn’t watch it on TV but huddled in the kitchen listening to it on local radio. My sprint into Waterford fanatic son and Waterford convert hubby at full-time would have done justice to an Olympic champion not to talk of a winger in hurling.

So there’s a lovely glow over this precious county of mine this morning but we all now need to gather our energies and reserves for the game that lies between us and All-Ireland glory. There will be no mad rush for tickets as games are played behind closed doors at present due to the pandemic.

Listening to the radio commentary reminds me of how my father used to tell me of how radio sets would be placed on window sills in his youth so that the people could listen to games unfold in an era when even radios were relatively uncommon.

Just after the final whistle, I got a text from Big Bro, also very much Waterford but now living in Dublin. It simply said:

Well done Waterford!

He’s in it for the long haul too and both of us have vivid memories of what it meant to our father when his beloved Co. Clare finally clinched the Championship in 1995 after a lifetime waiting.

Hope springs eternal and all the very best to the Waterford lads as they regroup after a battle and a half yesterday.

Deise Abu

Raw Talent

There is something wondrous about witnessing raw talent unfold and, for me, Diego Maradona was one of the most talented sportspersons of my time. His thrilling play had me absolutely memerised, especially during the World Cup in 1986, when I watched all of Argentina’s matches with complete awe on my little black and white television in my bedsit in Dublin. Pure bliss to behold.

I cried, like so many others when I heard of his death the other day.

They were tears of sadness, gratitude and remembrance of what was a very special time that can never be re-lived. I am so glad I took the opportunity back then to watch a master in full electrifying flow.

I honestly don’t know how I could cope if any terribleness befell two other raw talents I truly admire: Roger Federer and legend of Waterford hurling, John Mullane.

Raw Talent ~ Austin Gleeson

I’ve been fortunate enough to see many, many great sportsmen and women from a host of different types of sporting endeavour as my father did everything in his power to bring us see those who had reached the very top of their game. I’m talking here of people like Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Seve Ballesteros, Sonia O’Sullivan and I have huge admiration for that glorious combination of raw talent, hard work and determination.

In the last couple of years, I’ve been watching the blossoming of Waterford hurler, Austin Gleeson, who is raw talent personified and am absolutely thrilled that, at the tender age of 21, he has been designated Hurler of the Year in Ireland and well as Young Hurler of the Year.

Just take a look at this photograph of Austin Gleeson which I took at the homecoming of the victorious Waterford Under 21 All-Ireland winning team this year.

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A Happy Austin Gleeson

It’s hard to imagine that one so young could have the skill and talent that this guy displays on the field of play. When the sliotar (ball) comes near him the crowd becomes electrified because he has such touch and pure athleticism:

Austin Gleeson is Mr. Humility and never, ever fails to make the point that his team mates are every bit as important as he is to the teams on which he plays. He’s right, of course, but there is a recognition in the world of Gaelic games and beyond that we are looking at one of those rare talents that we may only see  a handful of times in our lives: hurlers like Christy Ring, Jimmy Doyle, Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Nicky English, D.J Carey, Henry Shefflin, Ken McGrath and John Mullane.

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Jubilation after Waterford’s Win in the Under 21-All Ireland

So, it’s a night when the Waterford Hurling Anthem is echoing all around me and I simply can’t stop smiling and hoping that we’ll have many, many more happy days cheering Aussie and the lads on the great hurling pitches of Ireland.

Layers of History in Waterford City

Waterford City is the oldest city in Ireland and there are times when I love to just soak back into the past when I go in there from my home in Tramore ~ just 8 miles away.

This morning was one of those occasions and I strolled around with echoes from hundreds of years ago sounding everywhere.

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This plaque is on the wall of Jordan’s Bar on the Quay.

Jordan's Bar, The Quay, Waterford
Jordan’s Bar, The Quay, Waterford

Jordan’s itself is over 300 years old and has been in the hands of the Jordan family now for 70 years. It served as a boarding house, The Parade Hotel, as well as a bar for many years.

Andy Jordan
Andy Jordan

Andy Jordan is a man with a passion for history and the interior of the bar has wonderful worn wood that goes back into the mists of time.

Jordan’s is known as an American Bar and this is not because it is trying to emulate any US establishment. Rather, it is because it was once a place where people could buy tickets for the boat to America. They would first get a boat from Waterford to Southhampton in England and from there board a ship to America. For most, this was a one way journey.

Lots of things in Jordan’s caught my eye including this print of Waterford in the days before cars:

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Andy Jordan pointed out two very interesting aspects relating to this print. It is derived from the well-known A.H. Poole Collection of Photography which operated from Waterford between 1884 and 1954. The building in the foreground is Reginald’s Tower (built in 1003) and the A.H. Poole business operated out of the building next to that. The bridge at the end of the Quay was a wooden bridge, known as Timbertoes, and, according to Andy Jordan, it is said that the pieces of wood from the bridge were used in a number of different premises around the City when it was dismantled in 1910, having spanned the River Suir since 1794.

Waterford City was buzzing with both locals and tourists today and there was also an air of excitement about the fact that the Waterford Hurling team were taking on the might of Co. Kilkenny (which begins for us just across the River Suir) in the Semi-Final of the All-Ireland Hurling Championship.

The game, which was a heart-stopping affair, ended in a draw so we’re drawing breath again until next Saturday evening!

Jordan's Window of Time on Waterford!
Jordan’s Window of Time on Waterford!

 

 

 

Flying High in Co.Waterford

I don’t expect this post to mean much to many people ~ unless, of course, they are Waterford (Deise) people with a passion for hurling.

Hurling is a Gaelic game that’s arguably the fastest, most skilful game in the whole wide world. It’s played with a hurl made from ash and a small leather ball called a sliotar. There’s fifteen on each team and the games last for 70 minutes and are not for the faint-hearted either on or off the pitch.

The highlight of the hurling year is the All-Ireland Championship which is in full swing at the moment. Today, we had two quarter-finals: Waterford v Wexford and Galway v Clare.

Waterford were victorious and will take on the might of Co. Kilkenny in two weeks time. Kilkenny are recognised as the kings of hurling in Ireland but we live in hope that we will find a way to weave ourselves passed them and head into the All-Ireland Final and beyond.

After the match this afternoon, there was a lightness about the Co. Waterford that greeted me. Waterford colours are blue and white and these were the colours that were emblazoned everywhere I looked.

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Through the Ancient Window

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At Stradbally GAA Club

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Deise Dance

 

Yes, I AM a proud Waterford woman and am beaming here as I write this!

 

 

Sporting Heaven

Today is a HUGE day on the sporting calendar and it’s one I’ve been looking forward to for ages now.

Tennis is passion of mine and has been since I was a toddler. So, so many memories of watching the Men’s Singles Final and relishing all the history associated with it at both public and personal level. Today, just seeing a clip of Fred Perry had me thinking of how my late mother used to be glued to the radio listening to the crackly commentary of his matches when she was young.

I hope, hope, hope that Andy Murray can win today. He’s one of my big sporting heroes.

The final of EURO 2016 Soccer between France  and Portugal awaits tonight. That should be a great match and I feel the whole tournament has been brilliant in terms of how it has shown that national passions can be played out in sporting stadiums rather than killing fields of war.

My Waterford blood is pumping hard today too as our hurlers take on Tipperary (hubby’s county) in the Munster Final in Semple Stadium.

So, a feast of sport that builds so many bridges

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Waterford Colours!