Monday lunchtime, September 6
ON the noon train out of Heuston Station back to Cork after the All-Ireland final. Tipperary people everywhere, all of them serene and relaxed. There’s a toss-up when it comes to highlights. Just a couple of seats away a snappily dressed gent in his 20s is informing the two middle-aged ladies in blue and gold jerseys of his reasons for going to the Premier County: he’ll be telling his parents he’s gay.
Or the mature couple across the way, also in Tipp colours, are reassuring a student from the north of Ireland that she won’t be murdered on the streets of Cork if she wears a Down jersey. When the train stops in Thurles a few of the lads who lurch off swerve around an elderly gent rolling a suitcase down the platform.
Jimmy Doyle. The haircut is unmistakable. So is the happiness.
Thursday morning, September 9
THE reaction isn’t long coming in this morning (Sample A: You Jumped The Gun from one former inter-county player).
Having filed a story about the retirement of Waterford hurler Tony Browne the previous day, your columnist awakes to a chorus of oh-no-he-isn’t from what seems like the entire country, with the player himself claiming he was misquoted.
The texts are fair (Sample B: Anything you want to tell me about me, from another inter-county player; a current one this time) and the tree-top chattering from internet monkeys is only to be expected.
Even the emptying of bladders from other media outlets all over the story is the usual knockabout fun, as your columnist has urinated over a few stories himself in his day.
In any event, the biggest noise made in debunking stories comes from outlets which don’t break many in the first place. Browne rings and we have a quick – and amicable – chat, but this wasn’t quite the morning we had expected. We check our facts. What exactly did he tell us again? “I know this was my last year, so I won’t change from that,” the player said on Wednesday afternoon. “You can print that too.”
Thursday evening, September 9
THE Rochestown Park Hotel is the venue for the Cork footballers’ press evening, and it’s the usual flurry of journalists trying to corral footballers into corners for one-on-ones.
There’s a wealth of visual comedy on offer – the huge, physically imposing footballers being manoeuvred back into corners by determined, though far from physically imposing, reporters. Cork’s run to last year’s All-Ireland final, and the decider of three seasons ago, means there’s little enough fresh ore to be mined in terms of interviews, but it’s not all one-sided. Your columnist, as an iar-scolaire of An Mhainistir Thuaidh, is caught by TG4 for a short piece and tips Cork by “cuilin no dhó”; decide the challenge of bilingualism should be shared and identify Cork wing-forward Patrick Kelly as another fluent Gaeilgeoir. Ta fáilte romhat, a Phádraig.
Saturday, September 11
TIPPERARY fans invade the Thurles pitch, Tom Semple’s field, after their U21s destroy Galway in the All-Ireland final. Hardly surprising.
We’re on the side of the GAA when it comes to pitch invasions, a la our cogently-argued and closely-detailed column of some weeks ago. When we spoke to Eoin Kelly during the week he said the lack of Tipperary supporters on the field at the final whistle last Sunday week didn’t really take away from the day. But Saturday night shows the challenge that the GAA faces, because it’s a bottom-up impulse: if you feel entitled to stroll across the playing area after an under-12 county final, you’ll hardly change the habits of a lifetime when you’re going up the grades. Staying off the field in Croke Park on the big day out is fine, but there’s as much risk of somebody slipping under the feet of thousands of supporters in Semple Stadium as there is in Dublin 3.
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