Archive for the ‘Kilkenny’ Category

I’ve had many memorable moments. My marriage, graduation and an episode of The Waltons are the top three. Or were the top three. Yesterday, I attended something that eclipsed all those, with plenty to spare.

I wasn’t really into the hurling at all. On TV it seemed like a big game between the boys I see beating lumps out of the police, and each other, in the Ardoyne area in July. Or manic polo without the horses/upper classes. I tried watching a game on TV in preparation but it didn’t whet my appetite at all. I simply couldn’t follow the ball. On 15 minutes, feeling slightly dizzy, I decided to just watch the score up in the left hand corner of the screen. Every now and again my eyes would wander towards the action and the nauseating feeling would return. So you could forgive my apathy as I made my way to Croke Park yet again for the final.

The only hurling I knew

This time I took the train. There were only a handful of Antrim hurling aficionados on the journey and they seemed to want to make the best of it. We’d only reached Newry and I’d counted 29 empty cans of Stella. Songs included “You Can Stick Your Decommissioning Up Your Arse” and “I’ll Tell My Ma”. I have to admit, I’m still a bit perplexed as to the etiquette as to when to join in. I thought I’d add to the occasion and after a quick g&t I began singing “Bat Out Of Hell”. The reception was muted.

Getting off in Drumcondra, the noise and colour knocked me out. I think it was that or perhaps the boy from Poleglass who was bad-eyeing me up the whole way down on the train. When I recovered sufficiently I made my way to the pitch, not forgetting the last disastrous episode of pub-hopping. When I got there, a minor game was in full flow. I’m not sure what minor means. It wasn’t their size. The physique of some of those boys was mind-boggling. If they continue growing at that rate, the average height of an Irish male will be over 8 feet and weigh a healthy 20 stone by 2030. I thought I read they have to be under 18 but that cannot be true either. I saw one of the Tipperary players with a handlebar moustache. I also spotted one of the Dublin hurlers afterwards with a half bottle of Smirnoff, driving off in a flashy Peugeot convertible with wife and children in the back.

Ireland. 2030.

The pageantry of the senior game was unique. The players all lined up in a row to meet a very small man, possibly one of the remaining mythical leprechauns. I used my binoculars to see if he was kneeling in front of the players but it was quite the opposite – on his tiptoes. God help him. Then they all calmly marched after a brass band, never quiet managing to catch them although the players barely broke sweat, saving their energy for the game. The band were a crazy outfit. One moment they’d be walking straight towards a stand and at the last minute turn away, much to the relief of the frightened women and children in the front row. They did that four times with the crowd trying their best to drown them out and waving flags in protest.

After all that shenanigans we all stood still and listened to the band play the national tune of Ireland. A lot of people didn’t know the words and just sang some kind of celtic gibbiltygeek. Even before it ended, the crowd got bored of it and started yelping and yahooing manically, shouting things about cats and tribes. I must admit I felt frightened at this point.

Supporters were glad the anthem was over

The match was a blur of speed and hurls. It was quite majestic in its ferocity. Men and women in the crowd frothed at the mouth, most of their anger aimed at the ‘blind bastard in the black’. Quite why they put a man in charge with visual difficulties was beyond me but I suppose equality and all that. The match ended in a draw and as I waited for penalties the players sauntered off, as did the crowd. Apparently they just replay the game – IN THREE WEEKS. A lot can happen in three weeks. Players can age, have a growth spurt or fall in love or out of it. It must be a manager’s nightmare.

The cats nearly won it but a Harry Shovelling missed a penalty by about 20 feet. I think he got a bit excited. On the tribal side was a Joesph Canning. He scored a point from his own penalty box, hitting it over 120 yards. Both managers had a bit of a spat at the end with the Tribal manager calling the Cat manager a wee pussy which irked the old Cat man. He fly-kicked the Tribal man and all hell broke loose, only ended when a guard fired a shot into the Dublin sky, hitting the wheels of the RTE overhead blimp.

Unseemly fight between managers at end

I’ll be at the replay.