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Ciarán Murphy: GAA decide that the show must go on – despite the fog

The conditions in Newry for the game were bizarre but at least both Glen and Kilmacud’s managers accepted it made no material difference to the outcome

Horror movies are nasty, manipulative little things. They are in many ways the most visceral artistic experience one can have – they don’t have to be clever to be effective (the best ones manage to be both), but even the bad ones can produce the desired reaction in its audience.

Like that one particular alcoholic beverage you can never look at again after you’ve had a bad experience with it, there may well be one horror movie that scarred you more than any other, one that sticks with you for sometimes intensely personal reasons.

For me, it was John Carpenter’s 1980 movie The Fog. The movie itself is neither particularly scary, nor particularly good, but the main reason it gives me chills to this day is that I watched it when I was no more than 10 or 11, which is never advisable.

The main antagonists are a band of ghostly pirates, who terrorise a northern Californian village under cover of the eponymous weather event and who announce their deadly arrival with an ominous slow knock on the door of their victims.


It was reasonably ominous-sounding on screen, but when my older brother recreated that knock for real on my bedroom door an hour after we’d all gone to bed, it hit home with rather greater shock value. It scared the crap out of me.

And so I tried to retain my composure as my beloved Micheál Ó Domhnaill was slowly enveloped by fog as the TG4 broadcast of Sunday’s two All-Ireland club football semi-finals progressed. It’s just a movie, I told myself . . . Micheál will be fine.

Lord knows, TG4 don’t mind putting that man out in weather conditions Tom Crean would baulk at – sometimes twice weekly – but they’re not going to allow the man to get offed by a gang of long-dead buccaneers, surely? Not after he’s survived all those games in Ballybofey . . .

In any case, the first of the All-Ireland club semi-finals was Castlehaven against St Brigid’s, and that looked ridiculous enough, given it was played in Thurles on a pitch where one half was in the sunshine and so had thawed out quite beautifully, and the other half was in shadow, and thus coated in white frost.

The first few minutes of that game were played almost exclusively in that half of the field bathed in sunshine, which led me to believe that there was a chance both teams would just try and play the majority of the game on grass, instead of taking their chances on the ice rink.

(This sounds ridiculous, but I’ve seen the reverse happen – when Croatia played England in sweltering conditions in Wembley in the group stages of Euro 2020, Croatia’s ageing midfield schemer, Luka Modric, decided he’d just play the entire game in the shade, regardless of what it did to his team’s shape. The heat of the London sun was strictly for mad dogs, Croatian footballers under 30, and Englishmen, apparently.)

Thurles was bizarre enough, but when we returned to Newry at full-time in that game, the fog appeared to have crept even farther downward. And, within minutes of the start of Glen against Kilmacud Crokes in the second semi-final, it became clear this was going to be a televisual event like few others.

Corner forwards are often taken off first, made to pay the price for a lacklustre team start. They can often feel hard-done by in such situations, but for a corner forward to be whipped off in this game would have required someone, somewhere to have at least seen what they had done wrong.

Crokes did indeed start slowly, but the right corner forward for Crokes could have got away with some John Carpenter-inspired GBH in the first half for all that the watching television audience would have known about it.

If anything, the fog got worse after half-time. TG4 reverted to their high-behind camera angle for the goal that Crokes were attacking in the second half and that proved to be an inspired decision. There was still the nagging suspicion that it looked worse on TV than it actually was in reality, and I was happy enough to proceed on that basis – it might not have been great as a paying spectator, but if the players can see what’s happening, then that’s all that matters.

That was until Shane Walsh’s late speculative effort from 35 yards out that was missed by Emmett Bradley on the edge of the square and then flew straight past the Glen goalkeeper. Now this is the sort of mistake that can happen regardless of weather conditions, but it still gave me pause. Maybe the players were struggling just as much as we were?

In the end, both managers were bemused at the conditions but happy to admit that it made no material difference to the outcome. Glen had been the better team and, despite a late wobble, were full value for their win.

If this had been Scotstown/Naas, there might have been more of a desire to call this off, particularly as visibility appeared to worsen around 40 minutes in.

But I think Glen and Kilmacud Crokes both had more than enough replay-related controversy for one decade. No one would benefit from a hasty remake or sequel, with the same tired old storyline . . . after all, that’s how Hollywood operates, not the GAA.