When I was a little lad we were packed off to the west of Ireland for the summer months. It was the best education we could have ever had. I loved the vastness of life when I was in west of the Shannon: The fields seemed bigger, the sky larger, the roads quieter and the men impossible to understand.
Imagine this scenario:
You are arguably the best attacking player in the country. You are in the last minute of the biggest game of the year so far. It is a drawn game. You have possession in your half of the field. You look up, pass the ball thirty yards to a team mate and get the jets on…knowing you will create space for a chance to potentially win the game.
Pre Match Build Up
I drove into Parnell Park in my TDi company car, the same as every other Championship game. It was a grey day, an end of August blah. The Malahide road was quiet enough. I sped along, listening to a thumping Techno Mix by Billy Nasty. I felt good, focused and energised.
I passed Clucko (Stephen Cluxton, Dublin Goalkeeper) on the way, walking down to the ‘Nell, as was his tradition. I rolled down the passenger window and hurled some obscenities at him. He didn’t flinch or take any notice, eyes straight ahead, calm and impervious.
I laughed and turned into the car park.
I’m sitting here in my hotel in the Galapagos and listening to The Orb’s “Beyond Ultraworld”, from way back in the freakin early 90’s. They came out just before I started poppin’ the ould pills, them being ecstasy pills…double doves, speckled doves, Christmas crackers and the like.
There was innocence about me back in the nineties- drinks, drugs and the rest besides.
I remember the first days when I first went to a Dublin GAA game. I went with my Dad to see National League games in the late 80’s. My Dad was in a wheelchair and that meant we got to go in front of the old Nally Stand, right onto the pitch side. It was incredible. Even though I was in my teens, I couldn’t believe how far and how hard these Dublin players could kick a ball.
Pat Gilroy stepped down as the Dublin GAA manager last week. I take my sombrero off to him as he brought the glory days back to the city. He went about his business calmly and steadily and he has to be commended for an outstanding few years work.
The last time I spoke to Pat was when he told me I was no longer involved in the senior inter-county set up with Dublin. It was October 2008.
I was working as a sales rep for Guinness out in Meath and Cavan and was just after walking out of a pub in a sleepy town called Oldcastle. The dry winter evenings were setting in. It was close to 4pm and already the sky was darkening. You could smell the turf fires being lit in cozy little homes. It smelt like Christmas was just around the corner.