Monday, August 08, 2005

Come on the Boy's in Blue


Does it mean that I'm a romantic, wear my heart on my sleeve, if I secretly hope all my shouting won't be in vain next Saturday? I'm serious.

I love the Championship. Last year, I had to almost fight back tears as we succumbed so easily to defeat time and again until we were gone (and although I was the only girl in the company, I wasn't alone). The mood was sombre in the pub afterwards and the witty banter was nil.

I didn't even have the will to exert passion when we discussed why Tommy Lyons' time had come and we needed a new manager.

Now with Piller Caffrey, the change is palpable. I just hope the boys in blue are able to succeed like they want to next Saturday. If you don't believe me, go along, or just watch it in the Pub or at home. The Dubs really want to do well. It's great.

You see, I'm no pundit, but I think what is important, is what is described as 'the hunger'.

For me, watching Dublin is like a Shakespearian Play. All the men and some of the ladies I know who follow the game are analytical and watch the team formation, making astute remarks about how they need to change their play.

But my analysis is always driven by the personalities I see on the pitch. I judge the game on their moods, and am happiest when (even if they're losing) they are trying their best. My father says they are always trying their best and points out that certain players are being marked harder, but I find that hard to see at the time though.

The game for me is a story with villans (particularly when we play Meath or Kildare, although Meath were mellow enough this year) and heroes (always the Dubs - often people such as Shane Ryan, Alan Brogan and of course Tomás Quinn last time). There are the showmen, who have talent to burn (Sherlock), and the journeymen, who can act as rocks in time of great need (Senan, Dessie). Or the surprisers, who sometimes play great and other times seem to disappear (Barry Cahill, Mark Vaughan).

Each time, I become charged with emotion and opinion.

Each time, I swear I'll keep my feelings in check. 'It's only a game' I'll think, 'there's no need to get so excited about it'.

'Take your points!' I'll begin, 'mark your players'. Later it will begin to get personal, 'come on Cahill, stick with it'. Eventually it descends into chaotic chanting or wailing shouts of belief 'come on Dublin, come on Dublin, come on'.

Some people don't like GAA. I don't know what to say, it's easy for me, I've been going since the days when I was lifted over the turn-stile. Seeing Barney Rock doing his shopping in the Superquinn in Finglas was my first encounter with celebrity culture.

It must be the county thing - maybe it is one of the only opportunities I have to be proud or even to feel as though I'm of Dublin (lets face it the skangers and puke make this mongrel city hard to like at the best of times).

The pints and the banter are nice, meeting up with the boys in the family is always special on match day. But the real glory is the feeling, like when we won the Leinster, that these men, who you've watched playing for years, almost almost let it go, and then shake their heads and seem to say, 'wait a minute. We're the Boys in Blue. And that's the Hill, and it is screaming for us, and we're magnificent, we are the chosen few, so you're not going to beat us'.

Then, they seem to (always at the last minute - just to prolong the suspense), turn, raise their heads up high and turn it around. We're in the stands, crossing our fingers, shouting until we're hoarse.

And then maybe, just maybe. Like last time. The Boy's in Blue get a victory and I feel so proud and so happy to be from Dublin.

I don't know if everyone gets the chance to feel that - of course if you support London you never seem to - but when people say they don't like GAA, I just wish that someday they get that feeling - the roar of their crowd, chanting their county's chants, the witty banter, the sun on your face - and best of all, that sweet feeling of owning even a thimbleful of the victory, because they're your boys in blue (or orange, or green, or whatever).

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