Tag Archives: Croke Park

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 63. On a Sense of Community.

Dublin supporters on Hill 16 at Croke Park.

Nothing brings a community together better than a sporting occasion. And nothing unites a community more uniquely than a victory. In much the same way a country can celebrate a major win in competition (Ireland beating England in this year’s Cricket World Cup springs to mind), Dublin’s All-Ireland success over their arch-rivals Kerry last Sunday has brought a smile to the brow-beaten face of Dubliners.

Whether your a fan of GAA or not (I’m ambivalent most of the time), it’s hard not to get caught up in the euphoria a victory can bring. Already we’re looking forward to next year.

 

All-Ireland Mayhem: God Help Us All.

For all but a few of you reading this post, the All-Ireland series means very little. But if you’re Irish, like your GAA, and your county winning the Sam Maguire Cup means more to you than life itself, then the All-Ireland is where it’s at this weekend.

It’s the Battle Royale: The Dubs versus the Kingdom; Dublin against Kerry. The Blues are searching for their first title since 1995, while Kerry are the reigning champions. (Stay awake at the back there, I’ll be asking questions later.) If the Capital City triumph this Sunday, then 16 years of hurt will disappear like cider down a football supporter’s gullet. If they lose, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

You're not a Dub if you don't drink cider.

For me – and for the rest of my workmates – it will be a day that will go down in infamy. Throngs of supporters will convene at Croke Park and its surroundings like Muslims at Mecca. They will be excited, nervous, full of hopes and anticipation, and they will have throats drier than a camel’s arse in a sandstorm. Which is where we bartenders come in. For most of the morning, afternoon and evening (all bloody day actually) we will pump out enough booze to fill the Grand Canyon ten times over: these Dubs are a thirsty lot, let me tell you.

We will be busier than St. Peter on Judgement Day. We’ll be working flat out to ensure that no thirst goes unquenched because this is what we bartenders do. We will listen to the crap that drunks come out with when one too many has been consumed; we will mop up vomit that’s had the indecency to spew out at importune times; we will smile when we’re abused – because that’s what we bartenders do. We will take money and give out correct change, as well as making sure there’s plenty of ice and bandages, because accidents may happen.

We will open early and close late. We don’t expect to be thanked for our endeavours because we know the boss will look after us after he’s lodged the day’s takings with Brinks Allied.

The Girls in Blue

We will listen patiently to the hundred-and-first rendition of “Come On Ye Boys In Blue” and not complain when another glass is smashed against the wall. We will not laugh when security escort an unruly supporter off the premises (usually head first) and into a waiting police car. We will hope the judge goes easy on him the next morning. We will say prayers when we go to bed that night.

If we make it to bed, that is.

We look forward to doing an honest day’s trade when Dublin win the All-Ireland (which we hope they do). But we hope the supporters make life easy for us and not start any fights. Because we bartenders don’t like fights. We like the simple life. Here’s your pint, there’s your change, now fuck off and leave us alone.

Dublin for Sam!

Kilkenny vs. Tipperary: The 2011 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final by Numbers

The Liam McCarthy Cup

The Liam McCarthy Cup was once again up for grabs today. For the third time in as many years, the Premier County of Tipperary played the Cats of Kilkenny for the coveted title of All-Ireland Senior Hurling Champions. It was the first time in the history of this competition that the same finalists have met three years in a row. Before a sliotar was pucked, this “best of three match series” was all square at one apiece. Tipp denied Kilkenny an unprecedented five-in-a-row last year with an impressive eight point at Croke Park. But as it turned out, there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded Cat.

The Numbers Game

4 – The points margin between Kilkenny and Tipperary at the end of 70+ pulsating minutes.

3 – The number of goals scored this year. Two by Kilkenny (Michael Fennelly, Richie Hogan), one by Tipperary (Pa Bourke).

81, 314 – The official attendance at Croke Park, some 400 down on last year. It’s not often that tickets are available on the day for a showpiece occasion such as this, but there were plenty floating around in the job today.

13 – The number of minutes it took for Tipperary to score once the game had begun. By that stage Kilkenny already had a five point lead.

0 – Last year’s hat-trick here, Lar Corbett, was virtually anonymous today. But he did supply the pass for Bourke’s goal. He’ll have better games in the future.

8 – The number of points scored by Eoin Kelly of Tipperary, the game’s top scorer.

Henry Sheflin lifts the Liam McCarthy Cup.

1 – The game’s solitary injury concern was the referee, Brian Gavin of Clara, Co. Offaly. The match was held up for five minutes while he received treatment on a bloodied nose, the result of an accidental collision with a wayward hurl. No doubt he’ll wear his war wounds with pride. He had a fine game.

33 – The number of All-Ireland titles Kilkenny now have.

8 – The number of medals Brian Cody (Kilkenny’s manager) and Henry Sheflin now have on their mantlepieces. Cody is the most successful manager in the game.

8 – months until we do it all again. What’s the betting that there’ll be a further installment in the Kilkenny/Tipperary saga? We can only wait and see.

All match photographs are courtesy of The Irish Times. Information is supplied by The Irish Times and the RTE website.

 

 

Super-Duper Bowl

Now I don’t know a quarterback from a quarter-pounder, a runningback from a running joke, or a Cheese Head from a cheese-monger; but I, like tens of millions of people all around the world, invested four hours of my life in the self-proclaimed Sports Event of the Year. It didn’t matter that the first ball was kicked at 11:30pm GMT or that the last action came at just after 3am; I stuck with it because it was my unpatriotic duty.

You see, Ireland has nothing in its sporting calender that quite matches the razzmatazz of Super Bowl. Yes, we have the All-Ireland Hurling and Football Finals every September, at Croke Park, where up to 82,000 people dress up in County colours and hope that their heroes will bring home Sam or Liam. But there’s little to no glitz or glamour to proceedings. Instead of Christina belting out a half-arsed concoction of Star-Spangled Banner, we have Miley from Ballygofuckwit, bottle in hand, mouthing half-learned words of Amhran na bhFiann (The Soldiers’ Song), while wondering if his bet will go down the Liffey, come the full-time whistle.

Fergie and the Goons

Instead of Fergie and the other goons from the Black Eyed Peas, shouting horrendously nonsensical lyrics into a microphone that doesn’t work properly, we have the Artane Boys Band, walking the length and breadth of the pitch, tooting horns and banging drums, while punters harrass the stadium bars and hot-dog stands (yes, we have hot-dogs in Ireland).

Croke Park, Dublin - the home of GAA

Instead of men, built like fridge-freezers and wrapped up in protective spandex and helmets, running into each other with insane abandon, we have 30 slim-built countrymen, most of whom dispense with the obligatory headgear, who chase after a football or sliotar (a small leather ball, hit by a hurl, hand, foot – or another player, whichever is handiest), knocking seven shades of shit out of their opponent…all for the glory of their county.

Instead of commercial breaks we have RTE’s panel of experts, delivering insights into tactics, team psychology and whether or not Miley’s missus is worth a ride behind the bike shed. Instead of constant stop/starts, we have 70 minutes of blood, guts and thunder – with rules that are understandable by marmosets.

So no, Ireland has nothing on Super Bowl. Not really…

See you in September. Up the Dubs!!

On This Day…27 September

Monday, 27 October 2010

Happy Monday, friends, readers and fellow bloggers. Before I head into matters in hand, I wish to congratulate the Dublin Ladies GAA Football team in winning the All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship. The Jackies gave Tyrone a right trouncing in Croke Park. Well done, girls.

So, this week we begin with events on this day in…

1540 – The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) receives its charter from Pope Paul III.

1590 – Keeping with things papal, Pope Urban VII dies 13 days after being chosen as the Pope, making his reign the shortest papacy in history. He plainly didn’t fancy the job.

1777 – Lancaster, Pennsylvania is the capital of the United States, for one day. It plainly didn’t fancy the job, either.

It's self-explanatory, really. (Image: posterx.net)

1821 – Mexico gains its independence from Spain.

1854 – The steamship SS Arctic sinks with 300 people on board. This marks the first great disaster in the Atlantic Ocean.

1905 – The physics journal Annalen der Physik published Albert Einstein’s paper “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?”, introducing the equation E=mc². Decades later, the rock group Big Audio Dynamite attempted to explain it by song. The tune was good; the explanation rubbish. (It’s actually a homage to the films of director Nicolas Roeg.)

1928 – The Republic of China is recognised by the United States.

1964 – The Warren Commission releases its report, concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Oliver Stone begs to differ.

1995 – The Government of the United States unveils the first of its redesigned bank notes with the $100 bill featuring a larger portrait of Benjamin Franklin slightly off-centre.

1998 – Google is founded. YAHOO!!

Birthdays today include:

Bill O’Herlihy, RTE sports presenter, is 72. The boys of Apres Match do a great impression of him.

Meat Loaf is an edible 63.

Brian Mullins, for Dublin GAA football star is 56.

Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, is 52.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Oscar-winning (WTF?) actress, is 38.

Pint-sized rock-chick, Avril Lavigne, is 26.

Rebel Yell: Cork Take Home Sam.

Man of the Match, Daniel Goulding (Cork) has a ball. Image c/o RTE.ie

In a pulsating match, in front of a packed-out Croke Park, Cork became the All-Ireland Senior Football Champions for 2010. They beat a dogged and determined Down team by a single point. The final score was Cork 0-16, Down 0-15.

Cork could and perhaps should have been up a goal in the first minute but Down goalkeeper Brendan McVeigh had to produce a brilliant save to deny Ciaran Sheehan. This lost chance had an unsettling effect on the Cork team and they scored just two points from play in the entire first half.

Down took advantage of a misfiring Cork side and played with purpose and style, with Mark Poland and Martin Clarke providing the clever passes and inside duo John Clarke and Paul McComiskey the finishing power. Down went into the second half leading by 0-8 to 0-5.

Cork’s main man, Graham Canty – their injured captain – was withdrawn from the starting 15 due to a hamstring scare, but came on in the second half and immediately brought the lack-lustre Leesiders to life. Alongside another seasoned campaigner, Nicholas Murphy, Canty guided Cork into their best spell of the game, and with man of the match Daniel Goulding scoring nine points (including four frees and three 45s), Cork took the lead for the second time in the 56th minute – and never let it slip.

Down refused to give up, and late scores from Benny Coulter and Hughes narrowed the gap to a single point, but Cork held on to win the Sam Maguire Cup for the first time since 1990, much to the jubilation of their travelling supporters.

So Cork, very much the nearly men of the last few seasons, made up for last year’s loss to Kerry with a second-half performance that put paid to their critics. The Mourne Men will rue their defeat over the next few days but they can hold their heads up high. They played the best football over the whole season and there can be no doubt that their day will come again.

Cork: A Quirke, E Cadogan, M Shields, R Carey, J Miskella, N O’Leary, P Kissane,A O’Connor, A Walsh, C Sheehan (0-1), P O’Neill, P Kelly, D Goulding (0-9, 4f, 3 ’45), D O’Connor (0-5, 2f), P Kerrigan (0-1).
Subs: N Murphy for A O’Connor, G Canty for Kissane, C O’Neill for P O’Neill, J Hayes for Kerrigan

Down: B McVeigh, D McCartan, D Gordon, D Rafferty, D Rooney, K McKernan (0-1), C Garvey, P Fitzpatrick (0-1), K King, D Hughes (0-3), M Poland (0-1), B Coulter (0-1), P McComiskey (0-3), J Clarke (0-1), M Clarke (0-3, 3f).
Subs: C Maginn for J Clarke, R Murtagh (0-1) for McComiskey, B McArdle for Rafferty, C Laverty for Poland

Additional reporting from RTE.ie

On This Day…19 September

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Today is the biggest day of the Irish sporting calender: All-Ireland Senior Football Final day in Croke Park. The Rebels of Cork take on the Mourne Men of Down in what should be a cracker of a match at GAA headquarters. Grannies will be sold for a ticket!

My head says Cork will win; my heart says Down will shade it. We’ll see who’s right tomorrow. I shall report then.

But for now, on this day in…

1870 – Having invaded the Papal States a week earlier, the Italian Army lays siege to Rome, entering the city the next day, after which the Pope described himself as a Prisoner in the Vatican. He only recently escaped and was last seen in Birmingham.

Image c/o knowledgerush.com

1881 – President James A. Garfield dies of wounds suffered in a July 2 shooting. He hung around for while, didn’t he?

1900 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid commit their first robbery together, while raindrops kept falling on their heads.

1945 – Lord Haw Haw (William Joyce) is sentenced to death in London. I bet he wasn’t laughing then.

1970 – The first Glastonbury Festival is held at Michael Eavis’s farm in Glastonbury, United Kingdom.

1985 – Tipper Gore and other political wives form the Parents Music Resource Center as Frank Zappa and other musicians testify at U.S. Congressional hearings on obscenity in rock music.

Happy birthday to:

Oscar-winner and Irish resident, Jeremy Irons (image: smh.com.au)

1933 – David McCallum, Scottish actor and star of The Man from UNCLE, Sapphire and Steel, and N.C.I.S., 77.

1948 – Jeremy Irons, English actor and Oscar-winner for Reversal of Fortune, 62.

1963 – Jarvis Cocker, English musician and singer with British band Pulp, 47.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Ticket Tout

So I’m standing outside Croke Park with 50 bleedin’ tickets to the Dublin match, That’s 50 bleedin’ tickets at 40 quid a pop. Work that one out with your fucking calculators. I can’t. I never did my Leaving Cert. The only time I can add numbers is when I’m working out the odds on my three horse accumulator. This is before every poxy one of them falls, goes lame, gets brought down, or just plain won’t bloody jump. The pox-bottles! Anyway, because I’m losing my bollix on the horses, I decide it’s high time to think of an easier way to make money. So, with the Dublin match around the corner, I borrow from Peter, Paul, and the rest of the fucking Apostles, and soon I have enough spondoolicks to bulk buy a shit-load of match tickets from ticketmaster.ie.

You see, I know what them Dubs are like. As often as not, they turn up at the pubs around Croker with nary a ticket between them. Stupid muppets. Don’t they know the match is sold out? And that’s where I come in. Once they’ve had a skinful of cider they’d sell their mother for a Hill ticket. (That’s Hill 16, for those of you who don’t know. The real Dubs will only have a ticket for the Hill. No, you eejit. A real Dublin supporter would have bought his poxy ticket three weeks ago.) I’m like the bleedin’ Messiah to these cretins. I have in my possesion 30 Hill tickets, 10 Canal End and 10 Cusack Stand tickets. Come to mama, you pissheads. 70 quid a ticket, no questions asked.

Only…there’s no one biting. Not a sausage. I’m up to me armpits in match tickets. Not just any match tickets — Dublin match tickets. The only show in town. But no one gives a flying fuck, do they? And I’m not the only one suffering. That arsehole selling the flags, scarves and funny hats has enough left over to send off to the Ukraine and clothe the kids. Now that would be a funny sight. A pile of Eastern European sprogs decked out in Dublin colours, begging on the streets for zlotys or whatever the fuck it is they call currency over there. What about me? What am I going to clothe my kids in? If I don’t dump these tickets, my missus will rip off my head and shit down my neck.

Which brings me to another topic altogether. If the oul ball-and-chain fucks me out, I can always get onto the Internet and hook up with a Russian bride. I wonder if they take Dublin tickets as collateral. I might have better luck next week. U2 are in town and tickets are like gold dust. But Bono? No one gives a fuck about him either. Okay, it’s Russia for me. With Love.

There’s my DART. I’m off to the boozer.

(c) James McShane 2009

Republic of Ireland 3, Andorra 1

Image courtesy of RTE

It has been at least twenty years since I’ve been to a soccer game. I’ve attended GAA games in Croke Park, Major League Baseball in Dallas, but not a soccer game. I’ve become lazy in this world of wall-to-wall televised sports. I’ll watch anything with a ball in it, my mother says, even cricket.

I love cricket!

The Aviva Stadium at night. I took this photo.

So it was with a huge degree of excitement and optimism that the Good Lady and I got tickets to see the Republic of Ireland team take on the minnows of Andorra in the first competitive match at the new Aviva Stadium at Lansdowne Road.

And what a marvellous new stadium it is, too. Every seat is afforded a perfect view of the pitch. The open-plan roof provides cover from the elements; but the rain decided to give itself the night off – thank God.

As for the game, it was very enjoyable; fast-paced, with plenty of goal mouth action. Ireland scored three goals, courtesy of Kevins Kilbane and Doyle and skipper Robbie Keane. The downside was the Andorra goal in the dying moments of the first half. But you can’t have everything.

Ray and me.There was the added bonus of a fan photo with the legendary ex-Liverpool, Aston Villa and Republic of Ireland midfielder Ray Houghton. He put the ball in the net against England in Stuttgart in 1988 (our first ever victory over the traditional enemy) and against Italy in USA 1994. Ray happily posed for photos before heading off to his media duties.

Results on the night see Ireland top Group B with Slovakia (who beat Russia, the top seeds in the group, 1-0). Armenia and Macedonia played out a 2-2 draw. Already I’m looking forward to our next home game, against the Russians on 8 October.

Tipperary v Kilkenny: The 2010 All-Ireland Hurling Final By Numbers

81,765 – the attendance at Croke Park for the final. A few seats short of a full house.

8 – points margin by which Tipperary beat Kilkenny. Tipp scored 4 goals and 17 points (29), Kilkenny scored one goal and 18 points (21).

Tipperary Hurling Crest

21 – the number of games Kilkenny played unbeaten in the All-Ireland series.

5 – in-a-row: what Kilkenny were aiming for; an unprecedented number of titles, never before achieved.

9 – the number of years since Tipperary won their last All-Ireland title (2001 against Galway).

Kilkenny Hurling Crest

58 – the number of All-Ireland titles shared by Tipperary (26) and Kilkenny (32).

40 – the amount of money (in euro) my boss had on Lar Corbett to score the first goal at odds of 13/2. Corbett duly obliged.

3 – the number of goals Corbett scored in today’s final.

12 – the number of minutes Henry Sheflin (Kilkenny) lasted on the field before coming off injured.

13 – the number of bar staff working today in Meagher’s for the final. (Yours truly was one of them.)

8 – months before it starts all over again.