Blues on the Hill as rebels yell in victory

Bitter defeat as Cork robs Dubs of shot at All Ireland senior hurling title

Dublin fans at Croke Park before yesterday’s All Ireland semi-final  against Cork. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Dublin fans at Croke Park before yesterday’s All Ireland semi-final against Cork. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill


It was blue on the Hill yesterday: the supporters, the air, the mood.

Former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly may have believed soccer “much, much more important” than life and death but he wasn’t a Dublin hurling supporter.

He hadn’t waited 75 years for an All Ireland senior title and it hadn’t been 52 years since his team was last a contender for one. He hadn’t waited 85 years to have a crack at those upstarts from Cork in a semi-final.

Rebels, how are ya! Yes, on the Hill yesterday supporters from Cork were being advised to stick their rebel county up their verse, or a word which rhymed with that. But the sizeable number of Cork fans on the Hill yesterday weren’t at all perturbed.

Among the red and white flags, one featuring Che Guevara proclaimed: “Hasta La Victoria Siempre” (Until Everlasting Victory).

One man’s T-shirt boasted he was “100% Irish. 110% Corkonian”.

To which the retort was chants of “Come on ye boys in blue”, with regular punches to the innocent air.

Yet Bill Shankly himself might have understood the Dublin man of a certain age who kissed his twentysomething son on the cheek as the boys in blue went to war on the pitch below.

The first half was an anxious tit-for-tat until, almost on the dot of four o’clock, Davis Treacy kicked the sliotar into the back of the net in front of the Hill which erupted into a rhapsody of blue, flailing arms, manly hugs and wild delight. Yes, it was looking good from the Hill at half time even if Cork were leading by a point and the sides had been level 10 times already.

Stench of defeat

But all changed, changed utterly about 15 minutes into the second half, when Ryan O’Dwyer was sent off after getting a second yellow card. The father who had kissed his son was then on the verge of spontaneous combustion as all around him other blues were losing their heads and a torrent of claims about the referee’s disabilities and alleged sexual practices poured in a tide of viscous vitriol towards the pitch.

The stench of defeat was in the air and then it was noticed that John 3:7 too was among the Cork supporters on the Hill, holding his ‘Ye must be born again’ sign. And so it must be for the Dubs.

“See ye next year,” said a Corkman.

“Stay on to clap them for what they done for us this year,” said a young Dub as the game came to an end. And they did. “Nothing to do, nothing to say. Blue, blue!”