Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Joe Kernan: Sacrifices made by Olympians mirror GAA stars

It was an immensely satisfying experience to witness the ecstatic homecoming for our Olympic heroes and heroines.

It was indeed only right that those who had brought such great sporting credit to this island should have been feted in the grand manner.

After all, they had given so much of themselves in their bid to land medals and had made supreme sacrifices in the pursuit of success.

I could not help thinking that their efforts were on a par with those of our inter-county footballers and hurlers who do not spare themselves in their quest for medals.

They too make considerable sacrifices in terms of family life, social activities and indeed financial gain in order to compete at the very highest level for the top prizes.

The Olympians were described to me this week as “amateurs who behave and compete like professionals” and I think that this perhaps best sums up their overall approach to their respective sports.

People like Usain Bolt, Katie Taylor and Mo Farah shone a light into all our lives and showed just what can be achieved by application, commitment and dedication.

I have no doubt that we will see these very same qualities replicated when Tipperary face Kilkenny in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final on Sunday and when the semi-finals of the football championship are played shortly.

The players on all these teams have been working solidly towards their chosen goal since the start of January and will not wish to falter now.

Just like the Olympians, they will have the backing of enthusiastic crowds and the support of their families and friends.

Not every team can be a winner, of course. There will be sheer delight for some and agony for others.

But the important thing is that these teams have all reached the penultimate stage of the highest-profile competition in which they participate.

They now face into the final furlong and doubtless they will take their inspiration from the competitors who have graced our television screens with such distinction over the course of the past fortnight.

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