All-Ireland final week, just the ticket – Jarlath
AAH, the week of an All-Ireland. An experience that can be exhilarating, terrifying and frustrating at one and the same time.
The eyes of the whole country are on your county. Your little spot in Ireland is the GAA HQ. The players are stars. Your kids are mad with excitement. The schools are decked out in the colours with big child like drawings and paintings of their own past pupils stuck in the windows.
You know that this experience is inspiring a whole new generation of kids to take up the Gaelic and emulate their heroes.
Clubs are bunting-ed up and people have lost the run of themselves. Someone has painted their sheep in the colours and lots of cars, (MOT rejects the most of them) have been repainted in gaudy county colours that wouldn’t look out of place in a circus.
The whole county is going mad. Pubs are now being repainted and word is that houses are now getting done up too. Bunting and flags are everywhere.
Now some lads have taken hundreds of fertiliser bags and headed up a mountain to spell out the words ‘BRING SAM HOME’ or something else equally profound depending on the amount of 20;10;10 you have put on the ground that year. It can be seen for miles.
The local press are getting every single angle with full colour spreads, that would do justice to the famous Whistles supplement in the Fr Ted episode. Pure class.
The All-Ireland final is a cruel master. It cares not for sentiment, or emotion, or the years it’s been since your county last won this most coveted title. It is oblivious to the hard training or sacrifices or sad stories that might have accompanied the barren spell.
It doesn’t intervene or lend a helping hand, but just lets nature take its course and the better team win. And sometimes it doesn’t even do that. Mixed with the emotion of preparation and anticipation is the fear of failure, a contrast so stark as to be black and white.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday September 20. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here