What I Feel when I’m on The Pilgrim Path to Croke Park

What I Feel when I’m on The Pilgrim Path to Croke Park

All of the 71,000 souls who took the pilgrim path to Croke Park yesterday to live the moment in Limerick’s exquisite win over Cork experienced a scatter of emotions. Not just those who travelled, either – but hundreds of thousands of others who watched or listened in. Here are some of mine before the game.

A sense of intention, of purpose, when I wake in the holiday home five minutes before 6am. Up and at ‘em. Here we go, here we go, here we go, and all that. Mount Brandon is stretching itself up into clouds, as it usually does. The gate leaves a creaky grumble when I free the latch. The water on Smerwick Harbour is a slate grey, waves flecking the surface. Continue reading “What I Feel when I’m on The Pilgrim Path to Croke Park”

To Win Just Once – The Game Is On

To Win Just Once – The Game Is On

So, anyway, I wrote this book. I got down off the ditch and into the game. Great view from the ditch, you can hold forth in high judgement and you can hide there, in the crowd. Not easy being inside the white lines, against tough opposition, making a show of yourself with everybody looking at you. Nowhere to hide. But I did it, anyway. Continue reading “To Win Just Once – The Game Is On”

Admiration, Wonder, Joy.

Admiration, Wonder, Joy.

Sport is about emotion. I’ve said this before. Other things too, but mostly emotion. And sometimes the emotions aren’t good but we seek them out anyway. We make ourselves vulnerable to them, we put ourselves out there. We let ourselves be open and exposed. Not a common stance for men. We stick our unprotected heads above the parapet in the full knowledge we could get our blocks knocked off. Continue reading “Admiration, Wonder, Joy.”

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?”