The championship is back and so is the RTÉ quiz. What game uses slingshot sticks? Is it (A) skidding? (B) curling? (C) topless darts? (D) Chicken curry? First prize: one night (midweek) B&B (breakfast not included) for one person in Malin Head in November 2022. (Upper bed supplement €15) Texts cost €6. No Russians or Northerners.
Congratulations to Limerick, the 2022 All Ireland Champion in Hurling (not Curling). With the hurling decided, only football remains to be decided.
Helpless throughout the league, Dublin couldn’t do anything right except lose. At half-time in last year’s semi-final against Mayo, they were six points ahead and seemed relentless in their pursuit of the seventh in a row. Then she left her mojo for the first time in almost a decade. It was as if they had driven past a funeral without slowing down and a local priest had cursed them.
Brian Fenton’s Groundhog Day of winning was suddenly over. To his surprise and ours, we discovered that he was human. He could miss shots and fall over and give away possession and do the stupid things the rest of us do. So could James McCarthy, Ciarán Kilkenny and Michael Fitzsimons. This sudden feeling that they weren’t invincible swept through them like smoke.
Suddenly they were in Croke Park, fucking their asses in front of the whole country against a mediocre Mayo team who couldn’t believe what was happening.
James McCarthy was dispossessed and dispossessed again. When it happened the second time, for a crucial Mayo point, he looked down at his empty arms in surprise. The ball was there in a minute. It wasn’t the next. What the hell was going on?
Stripped of their aura of invincibility, they were truly terrible across the league, playing with a half-heartedness we hadn’t seen from a Dublin side before Pat Gilroy began the transition from serial losers to serious footballers. They couldn’t tackle. They couldn’t score. Her defenses vanished.
Armagh beat her up. Kildare was having a hilarious good time. Monaghan took their piss in Clones, scoring 3-13 to bring them down, with Jack McCarron taking the piss overall as he praised the keeper for a hilarious goal. The meaning of that was how much time Jack had. He came out with a big smile on his face and the whole country laughed heartily. The most dominant winners in the history of the game have been whipping boys.
Since the descent, everyone has been thinking the same thing: They can’t be that bad. You will still win Leinster. Con O’Callaghan will be back. They will falter and when it comes to the semifinals, who will want to play them?
Bernard Brogan said, “Don’t write us off, Joe.” (I asked him if they just played that badly.) That’s the mystery at the heart of the football championship. Is it all over for her? Is Dessie overwhelmed? Are your big players suddenly looking around the corner from life?
I had coffee with Michael Darragh Macauley the other day, feels like being on a boat. In a tiny Dublin coffee shop he was standing all the time, rocking and swaying and stretching and even jumping up and down. “Do you miss it?” “No. I’m relieved.” I asked him to explain. He said: “I used to see a scone in a place like this and felt a gun pointed at the back of my head. I wanted to go to a concert and the gun was there again. Or a long weekend. The gun again. It was constant pressure. A constant victim. am i going to eat this can i eat it Can I have the pint? The gun is gone now. I can relax.”
While wagging and bobbing and stroking his forehead countless times, he ate a scone (with jam), talked about the exotic trips he was planning, the music festivals he was looking forward to and the good life after football. This is the rhythm of life.
Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion have just turned the corner. How long can their awesome teammates resist?
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/bernard-brogans-warning-a-coffee-with-michael-darragh-macauley-and-why-dublin-are-a-championship-mystery-41581589.html Bernard Brogan’s warning, a coffee with Michael Darragh Macauley and why Dublin is a Championship secret