September 25th 09
Croke Park And All That.
I spent Sunday at the All Ireland Football Final. Regular readers will recall that I was also at the Hurling Final. So I am twice blessed by these experiences. My intention is to get to the Women’s Football Final next week as well. So I will be thrice blessed. Aontroim is in the Junior Final. That’s a brilliant achievement and I commend everyone involved. Very well done indeed to the players and management.
I missed out on the Camogie. My own fault. I was in Dublin that day and I was very tempted to steal away from the Lisbon referendum campaign. I am sorry to say I resisted that particular temptation and I am the lesser for it. Life is too hectic but that’s no excuse. I should have gone.
The football was mighty. Ard Mhacha Minors had a deserved victory. It wasn’t a great game. That’s not a complaint or a criticism. Merely an observation. I rarely criticise players. Unless they are indisciplined, dirty, unwilling to do their best or cynical they have my unconditional support and admiration.
So if the minor game was a bit flat that is because, in my humble opinion, both teams seemed to be overwhelmed by the occasion. And who could blame them for that? Certainly not this poor blogger. In the end Ard Mhacha won because at the end they lifted their game and overcame a brave Maigh Eo side. Fair play to them all.
Being in Croke Park on an All Ireland day is the only place to be. I always feel moved and humbled and lucky and privileged to get a ticket. I went first away back in 1960 when I was a wee lad. My uncle Paddy took me along with some of his pals. It was a great day out. It still is. An Dún won that year and all the way home we sang ‘The cups going over the border, the border, the border’. I didn’t even know what the border was. But it was the start of my love affair with Croker and Dublin.
Now there is a new stadium. It is a great sporting space. Modern and 21 century. But the passions are as old as Cú Chulainn.
The Hurling Final was a joy. The Cats were magic and Tipp were magnificent. The pace, movement, skills, emotion, drama and sheer unadulterated courage on display at that All Ireland is almost indescribable. Even thinking about it makes me want to cry. With pride. I am in awe of our hurlers.
Football is a different game. We used to joke that football was only to keep hurlers fit. But that’s not fair. Hurling is my first and undying love but football is a very fine game indeed. And so it was on Sunday. A lesson in tactics and skill. And courage and drama as well. It wasn’t that Corcaigh weren’t good enough. It’s just that Ciarraí were too good, too clever.
They wouldn’t let Corcaigh play in the second half. That’s why they have won thirty six All Irelands.
So it’s great to say I was there. The crowds, the banter, the noise. The colour, the atmosphere, the comradarie, the music. The fierce joy and patriotism and Irishness of it all.
Our Anna was with us this year. She is only eleven weeks old.
Like me she will never forget her first visit to Croker. Neither will her Daddy.
So see you there next week for the Women’s Football Final. Aontroim Abú!!!