‘Following every GAA game, wishing we were there’
‘From Canada to Australia, via Cricklewood, Abu Dhabi and South Korea you’ll find us gathered around screens, connected by distance’
A strange thing has happened in Canada recently. Nature has woken from her painfully long slumber and the slow creak toward spring has begun. Temperatures have reached double digits. The snow has all but disappeared and the view from my window is no longer one of static white. There are people, there is movement and there is colour at last.
After the winter we have had it is easy to forget that seasons change, but they do. As sure spring follows winter, summer will follow spring. Summer, and all the possibilities it holds is looming. As welcome as the change is, you can’t help but think of home, and what the summer holds for our damp little island. My brother tells me that it hasn’t stopped raining in Ireland since November. I’m sure he’s right. He lives there.
But in my mind Ireland is dry, dry and sunny. Evenings are longer, temperatures are rising, the ground is hardening and our summer games are approaching. The soft squashy ground of the league gives way for the required for championship firmness. Caretakers observe and manicure the all important rectangles of turf. White lines painted on lush green grass, straight as a razor.
As the day approaches lifts are organised, buses booked and sandwiches wrapped. Tinfoil trade doubles county wide. Sunday morning and there’s a tingle to the air. Fry’s are scoffed, tea slurped and journeys begin. Two hours till throw-in and the square is packed. Neighbours and friends are embraced. Handshakes and backslaps abound in a sea of chatter, colour and shared optimism. The slight shower won’t influence proceedings too much. The sun bursts through to bi-partisan cheer.
In the ground the atmosphere is brimming. Programmes and gossip are exchanged. Drums are banged and tribal chants abound under ever blazing sun. Then silence. The band begins. Poorly pronounced and less understood words are sung with passion. The cheer rises up and the ball thrown in. This is summer.
This how imagine it at least. Not too unrealistic, perhaps a touch romanticised. But I won’t be there this year to see it. Neither will thousands more.
We’ll follow it alright. We’ll read the articles, and listen to the pundits. On Sunday morning we’ll watch it on a doggy stream, or pay the $20 cover to see it with company. Throw in time is 8am in Vancouver, 11am in Toronto, 11pm in Perth and 1am Monday morning in Melbourne. From the east coast of Canada to the west coast of Australia, via Cricklewood, Abu Dhabi and South Korea you’ll find us, gathered around screens, connected by distance. We’ll follow every game and wish we were there.
We’ll follow it, but it won’t be the same.