New stadium, same old characters at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

An Oral History Of The Lead-up To The First Munster Football final in the New Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
New stadium, same old characters at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Random Old Chap:

It was hotter in 1957.

GAA’s GDPR Representative:

I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to keep your personal details to yourself.

Random Old Chap:

The tar was melting on the way down to Fitzgerald Stadium. Or was it the Athletic Grounds we were going to?

Vendor on the Marina:

Water, ices. Oranges. Falafels.

Kerry Fan Wandering Blackrock:

Did they shift the new stadium away from the old place? I mean, we always parked here and now it’s a bijou falafel shop.

Random Old Chap:

Still hotter in 1957.

Cork Fan Who Parked In the Marquee: J

enny Greene, I can take, but the orchestra? Come on.

Kerry Fan Now Wandering Mahon Point:

I still can’t figure this out. Though Zara is my preferred summer layering option, I have to admit.

Cork Fan Who Parked In the Marquee:

My favourite Munster final in the old place was the time Colm O’Neill got 22 points in 1989 down here.

Random Old Chap:

That was 1990. You’re losing it.

Kerry Fan Finally Escaping Mahon Point:

Ah, I know where we are now. Look,


Wife of Kerry Fan Finally Escaping Mahon Point:

Put the foot down there like a good man, the frappucinos can wait.

Vendor on the Marina:

Thank God these matches have come back. The crowd going to the Marquee wouldn’t spend Christmas.

Random Old Chap:

Did you know that Jack Ruby did that job in a stadium in Chicago for years?

Vendor on the Marina:

You’d want to pay attention to the GDPR man.

Garda Trying To Get WiFi On An Approach Road:

Listen to the vendor there. Would turning on the data work, I wonder?

Kerry Fan Somewhere Near The Venue:

The minor game is on, Mary. Should we go in?

Wife of Kerry Fan Somewhere Near The Venue:

Not at all, there’s two hours to go yet. I’m expecting you

to park near Mallow somewhere.

Random Old Chap:

What is a falafel anyway? Does it have something to do with chickpeas?

Vendor On the Marina:

It is. Though I prefer the ones made from fava beans.

GAA’s GDPR Representative:

I don’t want to have to warn the two of ye again.

Random Old Chap:

Nothing I’ve revealed could be

construed as PII and used to de-anonymise my anonymity.

GAA’s GDPR Representative:

My work here is done.

Cork Fan Who Parked In The Marquee:

Why couldn’t the Munster hurling final be played here, that’s what I want to know.

Garda Trying To Get WiFi On An Approach Road:

Home and away arrangement between Limerick, and Clare have no facility to take the crowd. Simple.

Random Old Chap:

What was I thinking? Sure that game was in Thurles, that was the time Waterford beat Kerry. Did I ever tell you about that one? Where are ye going?

Give Gabby a break

Eventually, news seeps through. I am aware, dimly, that there was some criticism of English broadcaster Gabby Logan because of her cheerleading for the national side in the World Cup.

Logan had Come On England on the back of her coat, which seems to have offended people, because of her nominal neutrality as a presenter etc, etc.

I’m not here to defend Logan, whose partiality at the Rio Olympics was enough to make you bring your dinner back up. I’m also aware of the congenital inclination among Irish people to pick holes in the non-stop cabaret that surrounds most English sport, and the England soccer team most of all.

However, it’s odd, surely, that this is being condemned, while high jinks, such as Bill O’Herlihy saying ‘buongiorno Roma’ when Ireland made it past Romania in 1990 is remembered so fondly? That was regarded as contributing to the jollity of this nation then, just as Logan’s contributes to hers now.

I note the similarity between her jacket and Melania Trump’s, of course, which does undercut my sympathy a bit. If you’re going to dip your toes in the real world, then you have to expect a reaction that goes beyond pundit-bantz, the lingua franca of the dim and dismal.

The necessary disclaimer for all of the above, of course, is that the negative reaction seems to exist on social media. Which of course relegates the entire furore — or fauxrore, to be more accurate — to the rear-view mirror pretty quickly.

Keep your shirt on and keep your cool

Clearly we are not used to the heat, vast hairy northern mammals that we are.

The sudden outbreak of sunshine does tend to provoke semi-nudity on a vast scale and my only publishable views on that, having walked the streets of sun-splashed Cork in the last fortnight, is that there are people among us with impregnable self-confidence regarding their own bodies.

And more power to them. There’s a serious side to the heat, of course, particularly when you’re not used to it. My first port of call with any such challenge is Outside magazine, the bible of hikers, surfers, cyclists and outdoors types everywhere.

For coping with severe heat Outside recommends not taking your shirt off, no matter how tempted you are to inflict your abs on the populace, as that will heat your core faster than if you have a light top; more to the point, they also suggest pouring water over your head and chest in severe heat.

That advice gets tweaked when you go to your feet, though, as the magazine’s experts point out that a) wet feet in heat lead almost inevitably to blisters and b) waterproof shoes are a poor choice in very hot weather, as they don’t allow the sweat to escape from your hot feet, which leads to wet feet, and thus to blisters.

Their final suggestion is a subtle one: Just because you were running around in similar heat on your last summer holidays doesn’t mean you should take up where you left off.

You took a few weeks to acclimatise yourself to last year’s heat, and you should do the same this summer. Build up slowly over the course of the next few weeks, though I hear you all say that the sun will be gone by the middle of the week.

You’re welcome, all the same.

Bennett’s flashes of gold

The other day’s visit to the library in Douglas yielded a couple of classics, Alan Bennett’s latest diaries being the highlight.

The lugubrious North-of-England tones I can do without, but it’s pretty easy to stow that memory away when you’re reading his daily entries (“The radio critic of the Independent remarks that personally he can have too much of Alan Bennett. I wonder how he thinks I feel.”)

Bennett doesn’t sugar-coat the pill at times, giving a full description of how he had £1,500 pickpocketed in broad daylight.

There are also flashes of gold. In passing, Bennett refers to WH Auden’s secret charity: The poet would support two orphans until they reached adulthood, and then find another two to support, and so on through his adult life.

Auden never publicised this. Bennett adds that once Auden was uncharacteristically sharp in demanding payment for a book for the simple reason he had earmarked it to support a library for poor children.

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