Who I’m Cheering For in World Cup 2018

Who I’m Cheering For in World Cup 2018

Karl Ove Knausgaard, in his book Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game, shares a series of letters with his friend Fredrik Ekelund about the 2014 World Cup. In his first letter he says that he will always cheer on Argentina and Italy in such competitions. And he does this because both teams are traditionally cynical, they never do ‘anything beautiful for the sake of beautiful, only if there is some outcome.’ And the fact that they can do so, but hold back, appeals to something deep in side him. Continue reading “Who I’m Cheering For in World Cup 2018”

A Child Watches Cork Play Limerick in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, June 2018

A Child Watches Cork Play Limerick in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, June 2018

Cork are playing Limerick. It’s your first time in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Your cousin Sean was there before, and for the Clare match too, but he’s seven and you’re only six.

Your friend Conor is coming too. He’s the best hurler in your class but you’re faster at running.

You spend the whole day pucking your sliotar against the wall of the house, scoring goals for Cork. You can’t wait for half-past four, that’s when your dad said ye’ll be leaving. You run into the house loads of times to check the kitchen clock. Continue reading “A Child Watches Cork Play Limerick in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, June 2018”

An Emigrant Watches Clare Play Cork in Hurling

An Emigrant Watches Clare Play Cork in Hurling

I watched the Clare Cork match on Sunday (May 22, 2018) in an unlikely place, in the town of Cherokee, North Carolina, near the Tennessee border. We’re on holiday down South and we’ve come to walk in the Smoky Mountains and drive up The Blue Ridge Parkway.

And, sitting here in this Welcome Centre, so far from home and Páirc Uí Chaoimh, I’m struggling with that familiar feeling of guilt when I’m not around to cheer Cork on. As if my presence in the Páirc today would make one iota of difference today among 25,000 others, but that’s just how it is. I’m struggling too with GAAGO’s intermittent signal, and I’m thinking of Irish emigrants all over the world, for many of whom this is a regular summer Sunday experience.

I imagine Cillian, a young Clareman in Melbourne, Australia. Continue reading “An Emigrant Watches Clare Play Cork in Hurling”

Super Bowl LII – Aw or Awe?

Super Bowl LII – Aw or Awe?

There’s an old story about John Wayne. Probably apocryphal. John played a Roman centurion in the movie The Greatest Story Ever Told, an American film from 1965 produced and directed by George Stevens. John had a small role as did many other famous actors. All he had to do, at the end of the film, after Christ was crucified, was to say the affirmative line: ‘surely this man is the son of God’. Stevens wasn’t happy that John was putting enough into it so he asked him to put more awe into the line. So John (on the zillionth take) said: ‘Aw, surely this man is the son of God’.

And that’s the way I feel about the Super Bowl. Continue reading “Super Bowl LII – Aw or Awe?”

Sporting Emotions at the Páirc Uí Chaoimh Official Opening

Sporting Emotions at the Páirc Uí Chaoimh Official Opening

Sport is all about emotion. It’s why we watch it and participate in it. And yesterday, on the day of the official opening of the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh – on the day too when the Cork senior hurling and football county finals were decided – there were many emotions for those lucky enough to be present and experience them.

My first time going to the new Páirc was in July when Waterford and Wexford played in the All-Ireland hurling quarter-final and on that day, when I turned the corner of Maryville to walk down that familiar hill to the ground, I felt pride. It was a kind of Cork pride too, since I was among Wexicans and Waterfordians. This is ours, it’s special, and here you are visiting – enjoy. Continue reading “Sporting Emotions at the Páirc Uí Chaoimh Official Opening”

On Watching Waterford v Wexford in the New Páirc

On Watching Waterford v Wexford in the New Páirc

I was trying to remember the last time I was in the Blackrock End and I think it was back in the heyday of the Clare v Tipp battles. Those heady days when Clare were a mighty force on the wane and Tipperary were trying to recreate the vigour they used to exude in the early 90s. Maybe 2003. Continue reading “On Watching Waterford v Wexford in the New Páirc”

Cork v Tipperary Part 2   We kept the faith.

Cork v Tipperary Part 2   We kept the faith.

Reader, I cried.

Cop yourself on, says I, it’s only a bloody a match and it’s only a quarter-final, we won nothing. Then I looked over at Martin and a fine big tear dropped out of his eye onto his cheek and I thought, yes, why not? Why not cry after that experience, that communion, that transportation. Continue reading “Cork v Tipperary Part 2   We kept the faith.”