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Ciarán Murphy: No hiding possible from Kilmacud/Glen controversy

How it will end nobody quite knows but the fallout from the recent All-Ireland final is definitely exercising the mind of the public

You may well ask the lengths to which I went this week to try and avoid writing about the never-ending saga of the All-Ireland club final. This is one question I can answer quite easily – 270 kilometres.

I drove 270km to Galway and Mayo last Saturday night to avoid the Crokes/Glen discourse.

And – fearing that may not have been enough – I drove for 45 minutes through Dublin traffic to get to a Sigerson Cup quarter-final on Tuesday evening between DCU and MTU Cork in Glasnevin. And yet . . . here we are.

First things first. I am generally forgiving about people getting out and about on the first weekend of the national leagues. There’s been a fair old gap between your county’s last game in the championship and their first real game of the new year. It’s easy for people to lose the run of themselves and decide that’s how they want to spend the last weekend of January.


I mean, it’s not something I’d make a habit of doing, but that’s fine.

Galway and Mayo on the other hand – well, that brooks no argument. It’s my sole day of devotion in the religious calendar.

This is the beaten All-Ireland finalists in each of the last three years, currently the most vibrant and topsy-turvy of the ancient GAA rivalries, up first in the opening weekend’s most attractive fixture. And yet my travelling companion and I feel duty-bound to grasp the nettle early doors.

We seem to have the Crokes/Glen issue pretty much solved between ourselves by the time we reach the Enfield toll-booth. We drop into my parents for dinner in Milltown, located in Galway but hard up against the Mayo border.

We relitigate some of the main points for my parents when they ask our opinion of the club farrago, but feel 10 more minutes on this topic is surely enough.

Duly fed, we get back into the car, and point it for Castlebar. We arrive early and decide to head into the Castlebar Mitchels clubhouse, located right beside the stadium. As we walk up, the floodlights illuminating the massive main stand, we decide this might actually be our favourite place to watch a Gaelic football match.

We step inside, and immediately I meet a fellow Milltown-man who’s flown in from London for the game. This should shock me, but he goes to more Galway games than I do. This is it – this is the stuff I drove across the country for. We order ourselves a drink, and a busload of our contemporaries from around Tuam land in.

One after another they come over. Well lads, what do you make of the Crokes thing, it’s a mess, isn’t it? What are ye hearing in Dublin? Barely have we clambered out of one conversation about it before we’re thrown into another one. What is going on here? We can literally see the stadium out the barroom window! This is Galway/Mayo! Am I losing my mind?

The teams play out a thrilling draw – a game played not at full speed but at full intensity. All parties leave reasonably happy. I get up the following morning, and get about my day. I watch Paddy McBrearty kick the most Paddy McBreartyish of points to beat the All-Ireland champions in the perma-wet of Ballybofey.

I go to work on Monday morning, my mind percolating with ideas for this column. We’ve moved office recently, and so my local coffee-shop decides today is the day to move our relationship onto the next level. The barista asks me what I work as. This man (and yes he has a man-bun, and yes he is wearing a leather apron, but neither of these things are important) immediately pipes up – “Wow, you must be busy at the moment, with the Six Nations starting and . . . this replay thing? What’s going on there?”

I race out of there at high speed. I feel like I’m trapped in one of those dreams where trouble is moving at excruciatingly slow speed towards you but you find yourself incapable of moving out of its way.

Tuesday evening. The deadline for this column starts to loom. I will go to see my old college team DCU play MTU Cork in the Sigerson Cup quarter-final in Glasnevin.

Cork IT (as it was then) knocked the DCU team I played for out at the same stage in 2004, maybe I can take the reader on a trip down memory lane, throw in a humble brag or two – that could work. I get there, watch an extremely high-quality game, have conversations with three different people . . . and guess what the topic is.

On Wednesday morning I talk to a journalist, not too far away from me on these pages, who tells me that he took a phone call from his sister earlier in the week which began with her saying: “I won’t keep you long, I know you must be busy with this replay thing”.

This same sister is so apathetic towards sport that she once invited him to a party in her house . . . while he was at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

I would love to write a column about why this is exercising the public to this extent, but I genuinely have no idea. I’m just giving the people what they want. So… how do you think it’ll end up? Because at this stage, your guess is as good as mine.