Consider yourself a self-respecting Rebel die-hard? Not unless you meet these criteria.
1) Every time Cork play a championship game up the country, you have to stop yourself from going to the Silver Springs Hotel for breakfast that morning. The team meets there to get the bus to the game? Really? Sure, you’re just having a coffee . . .
2) You know that Carlow native, Mark Mullins, captained Cork when Limerick beat them heavily in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, in the 1996 Munster hurling championship. Of course you do. But you also know that the player who became the de facto captain when Mullins was called ashore was a teenager, who made his debut the same day — Sean Óg Ó hAilpín.
3) It’s not enough that you go to the City End when Cork play home games in the Munster championship. You have your particular notch on one of the iron crowd barriers: when Tomas Mulcahy got that goal in 1992, against Limerick, you gouged into the metal with your bare fingers.
4) Red-and-white jerseys? Arrivistes. You have one of the original, saffron-and-blue numbers from before 1920: with the big C on the front. Where would you be going with those pink girls’ tops . . .
5) When your pal’s wife was having a baby, in Dublin, you didn’t know if he was joking about having a sod of turf from Páirc Uí Chaoimh under the delivery table. They don’t get too cross about chunks missing from near the sideline, right?
6) It often occurs to you to bring that old Nokia into a phone shop, to see if it can be revived: not because it has numbers you still need, but because it was your first camera-phone, and the first picture you took on it was of Ben O’Connor outside the Supermacs in Charleville. He’s not the one with the Supermac meal, by the way.
7) Your grandfather wasn’t just in Barry’s Hotel the morning after the 1953 All-Ireland hurling final, when Galway players came looking for Christy Ring: he was holding the rest of them outside the hotel, all by himself.
8) There’s nowhere else in Dublin you’d stay on the weekend of an All-Ireland hurling final, of course.
9) When you’re in company on those All-Ireland hurling-final weekends, you sometimes pretend your great-grandfather played on the same Cork team as Jamesie Kelleher. At a certain point in the evening, you get reckless and just say your great-grandfather was Jamesie Kelleher. The teetotaller in the company then usually points out that earlier in the evening you had said your great-grandfather was Billy Mackessy.
‘It’s a broad church,’ is your usual response. ‘Back to Barrys’ for the residents’ bar?’
10) From your seat in the New Stand, in 2007, you couldn’t see what anyone did wrong when Cork and Clare came out for that Munster championship game.
11) You know the one about Christy Ring telling the Cork players, in 1978, about getting the goal, in 1946, and the rain falling off the net? You do? Of course, everyone knows that. But do you know who has those drops collected in a jam jar at home?
12) You’re the man who’s always taken responsibility for hitting Tom Moloughney, of Tipperary, in Limerick in 1961.
13) A certain Cork player used to tear off Mick Roche’s hairnet during games in the late 1960s and throw it up into the crowd. The Tipp crowd always tried to throw it back onto the field: guess who was lying on that hairnet and keeping it clung to the ground for dear life, though?
14) At home, under the bed, you have a box of shame: one of those infamous sliotars from 2003 that didn’t suit Cork at all in the All-Ireland final. It went into the crowd as one of your team’s first-half-wides. Sometimes, you think about asking John Gardiner to autograph it, but you always come to your senses just in time.
15) Yes, the train. Yes, the bus. Yes, the car. But who was on one of those boats that sailed up for the 1939 final?
And it wasn’t that wet, either. Rain coming down like stair-rods: stop exaggerating, Jack.
16) Sometimes, you have to be restrained from bicycling to Munster. Feels better that way, you always say.
17) Back in 1977, when Seanie O’Leary (below) broke his nose in the warm-up, you broke into the dressing-room and offered Seanie your nose, instead.
18) People like to slag Kilkenny over the 1966 final and the sleeping tablets — ‘Pilltown’, all of that. But who was it peeping around the Skylon that night, sliding the Roche 5s under the players’ doors ...
19) You were nice to John Sheedy, of Tipp, when you met him down the Square, in Thurles, after the 1984 final. Easy to be gracious when you win, you admitted.
20) Back in 1986, you felt Cork needed motivation, so you hopped on a bus to Galway and had a word with the mayor of Galway, and said, ‘hey, say what you think. If you’re confident, then let it all come out.’
21) It’s one of your favourite ‘quiz’ questions — what was the only senior intercounty championship game ever played with no additional time? (Cork-Limerick, 2001). You give out the referee’s home address on request, too.
22) Whenever anyone rolls their eyes about Cork complaining about the length of the grass in Croke Park, back in 2006, you have the perfect putdown, a long, green blade in a Garda evidence bag, which you just happen to have in your pocket. At all times.
23) Cork lost to Kilkenny in the 1972 All-Ireland final. Then-Taoiseach Jack Lynch had government business in Germany and had to leave at half-time; he was told by the pilot, when they landed, that Cork had lost.
He wouldn’t believe it was true until he rang home and spoke to you, though.
24) To this day, you feel there was a media conspiracy denying Cork their just recognition for winning the double in 1990. It’s just that saying ‘they’re all Dublin-loving bastards’ dilutes your logic somewhat.
25) Ever since Cork beat Dublin, you haven’t slept, basically. The hallucinations are a little distracting when it comes to the ticket hunt, but it’ll all be worth it, in the end. And even if the ticket hunt ends badly, you know the way in, under the Canal End, that Dr Con showed you before the 2010 football final ...
This article appeared in the Examiner's All-Ireland Hurling Final supplement on Saturday September 7.
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