Real Dubs fans love rural Ireland – they just wouldn’t want to live there
It becomes difficult to tell real Dubs and half-Dubs apart. It is only on weekends like this the old loyalties re-emerge
Taoiseach and Mayo native Enda Kenny nails his footballing colours to the mast. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Things are getting pretty bad when even the leader of the Republic feels free to declare that outside of Dublin, “there is not a county in the country which is not willing Mayo to win tomorrow’s All-Ireland football final.”
Chiselled of jaw and upright of carriage, Enda Kenny has always worn his Mayo loyalties proudly even if, like many a Mayo man before him, he has spent much of his life under the bright lights of the capital.
His predecessor, Brian Cowen, could often be found trenchcoated and intently watching the action on wintry days when the budgets were always giveaway and Offaly were playing Division Two in Tullamore.
And before that, during the Roaring Noughties, Mr Bartholomew Ahern was renowned for his devotion to the Dublin football team, rarely missing a game in Parnell Park or on the Jones’s Road and touring the Interior when the Metropolitans lost the occasional championship game in Leinster and were dispatched on football adventures in rural Ireland.
Those of us present in Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada on the afternoon when the Dubs met Leitrim in a riveting qualifier match won’t quickly forget the day that the Leader swept into our midst.
It was 2004 and the Connacht Council men assigned to the car park were at their wits’ end trying to accommodate the non-stop procession of flash motors. Surveying the battery of gleaming cars with a despairing eye, one steward shook his head and said to nobody in particular, “Sure it’s like the showroom in Western Motors.” Nobody listened.
It is impossible to remember now whether Fianna Fáil’s main man arrived by car or by air for the sound of helicopters landing in west of Ireland GAA grounds 10 minutes before throw-in was nothing unusual then.
But he moved easily through the small room, graciously accepted one of those extraordinarily uncomfortable plastic shell seats found only in Irish schools and GAA grounds and popped into the kitchen at half-time to have his mug refilled and to compliment his hosts on the quality of the currant bread.
The Dubs won, just, and the most powerful political figure in Irish life was gone minutes after the final whistle. But the scent of power lingered for hours.
From Jack Lynch to Seán Flanagan to John Donnellan, politics and GAA allegiances are nothing new. So it is only natural Enda Kenny will be shouting for Mayo tomorrow.
Still, his casual assertion that the other 31 counties – and, by inference, the entire world – will be rooting for Mayo is an unintentional slight the Dubs have learned to live with.
Being a Dublin football supporter is a complex thing. A Dublin fan might become a bit paranoid about the notion that the elsewhere often referred to as “rural Ireland” enjoys seeing the Dublin football team getting its comeuppance.
The real Dubs don’t have much time for this city versus country debate because in their minds, there is no debate. Real Dubs feel about Dublin much the way John Updike said New Yorkers feel about New York: that people who don’t live there have to be, in some way, kidding.
The Dubs are generally too polite to point out that much as the country folks bang on about the greatness and beauty of their own counties, a great many get out of there just as soon as they turn legal and race off to live in Dublin, hundreds of thousands of them bunking down in Rathmines and Ranelagh.