Home thoughts from abroad on the All-Ireland championships
‘A lone Donegal fan was in an empty carriage and had his head in his hands. He cut a forlorn figure. Who says nobody cares about the provincial championship?’
The ‘Boss’ Bruce Springsteen paid tribute in Limerick to the deeds of the Treaty County’s hurlers. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
It probably doesn’t happen this way but it would be great to think that when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band arrive in Nowlan Park, they will use the actual team dressing-room before they go on stage. That they are ushered from the limousine through the dark corridor and escorted into a ‘green room’ consisting of a plain wooden bench and pegs on the wall, perhaps a forgotten Puma boot lying in the corner, a physiotherapists’ bench held together with masking tape and bearing a huge box of Fifes bananas and in the corner, a table laden with cups and saucers, a tray of ham and salad sandwiches, a tray of buns and a big plate of barm brac – already buttered........
– Eugene ‘Nudie’ Hughes, former Monaghan player turned radio man, is one of the great GAA names. It holds the power to instantly transport one back to the mid-late 1980s when Cry Before Dawn were the next big thing, when Larry Goodman was always in the news and the Monaghan football team were big-boned, teak-tough, unaccountably cheerful and travelling at a rate of knots – much like they are now.
– Michael Lyster has become RTÉ’s Dean Martin in terms of dapperness and one-liners. It’s little wonder that he won the coveted ‘Barnaderg’s Most Suave Man’ title for the 27th year running back in June.
– Brian Cody is a Neil Young man but you can bet there is a Darkness On the Edge of Town LP somewhere in the dusty collection of his youth. Although every Kilkenny hurling fan knows it won’t happen, the deeply concealed romantic aspect of their personality will dream of a walk-on from Mr Cody, possibly to the first bars of Glory Days.
– When Bob Dylan was booked to play Nowlan Park years ago, the idea of major counter-cultural late 20th century guitar balladeers playing GAA stadiums was still novel if not downright strange. One long -serving Kilkenny County Board man confessed himself baffled by the excitement and genuinely wondered if this Bob lad was any relation to the (late lamented) Pa Dillon, Cats full back in the 1960s.
– Monaghan settled the merits of the provincial football championship for once and for all. There’s no other way. What is the point of eliminating a tradition that includes four chances of winning a valuable piece of silverware as well as the main piece of September silverware?
– When Monaghan won the Ulster championship in 1985, just over 17,000 people showed up in Croke Park to see them play Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final. They can bank on a bigger crowd to see them this time around.