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”

A United Fan Watches Liverpool in the Champions League Final

A United Fan Watches Liverpool in the Champions League Final

Sitting in the sunshine, in the back garden, on a Saturday afternoon. Listening to Leinster, on the radio, win another European championship. And, as a Munster man, wondering what emotions I feel about that.

Looking forward too, to watching Liverpool in a Champions’ League Final against Real Madrid, this evening. Well, not looking forward, in case they win the bloody thing. Me, being a proud Manchester United supporter since the heady days of one skinny Irishman, George Best, back in the 1960s – himself later to play for Cork Celtic, not so skinny. Continue reading “A United Fan Watches Liverpool in the Champions League Final”

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”

Sport and Fiction 3: Not Art by Péter Esterházy

Sport and Fiction 3: Not Art by Péter Esterházy

Not Art, like all good sports fiction, isn’t about sport and in many ways it isn’t even a novel. It’s a piece of autofiction by a man writing about his mother. A mother who is besotted by football and by one practitioner in particular, the great Ferenc Puskás of Hungary.

Esterházy is an interesting character, coming from an aristocratic family, and considered a major European novelist. His brother was a professional footballer and Péter himself played a bit. Continue reading “Sport and Fiction 3: Not Art by Péter Esterházy”

Sport and Fiction 2: The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder

Sport and Fiction 2: The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder

This is one of the most interesting sports fiction books I’ve read. Like the best books in the genre, it isn’t about the sport in question at all – well it’s about a few elements of it: ritual, memory/nostalgia, and repetition. These are key elements of all sport and some of the reasons why we watch and participate in sport. They shouldn’t be underestimated. Continue reading “Sport and Fiction 2: The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder”