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COMMENT: Dublin not finished making history yet

Monday, 23rd September, 2019 7:59am
COMMENT: Dublin not finished making history yet

Field of dreams. An aerial view of Croke Park. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

COMMENT: Dublin not finished making history yet

Field of dreams. An aerial view of Croke Park. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

I WAS fortunate enough to secure two tickets to the All-Ireland Football Final replay at Croke Park earlier this month.

To say that I’m a latecomer to GAA games would be something of an understatement. In fact, the Dublin v Kerry clash was the first time I’ve ever been to a Gaelic football match at Croker. I’ve enjoyed rock concerts at the iconic venue, including U2’s ‘Unforgettable Fire’ tour in 1985, followed a year later by Simple Minds.

I’ve even been to a rugby match there, when the GAA relaxed its rules during the construction of the old Lansdowne Road stadium. I don’t follow rugby and only went out of fear of offending the business contact who had invited me as his guest (he ended up spending the entire game explaining the rules to me!).

But fast forward to 2019 and I’m now a father of two sons who are into soccer and Gaelic football. The past decade or so has been a crash course in learning the offside rule and going on stadium tours of Old Trafford and Camp Nou. The lazy Saturday morning lie-ins of pre-parenthood have been replaced with frantic searches for football gear and standing at the sidelines of windswept pitches.

“Since when were you into football?” is the most common response I get every time I post a photo from an Ireland international game at the Aviva on my Facebook page. They have a point, of course.

“I’m doing it for my kids,” I generally reply, although, truth be told, I secretly enjoy being a born-again soccer fan.

But nothing could have prepared me for the atmosphere of an All-Ireland Football Final. The crowd were boisterous and passionate, with mostly good-natured banter between the Dublin and Kerry fans. Every point was greeted with mass euphoria; every wide with incredulous gasps, cheers and boos, depending on who you were supporting.

And as for that Dublin goal at the opening of the second half, if you had plugged the crowd’s reaction into the national grid, you would have been able to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels for a while. It was pure, unapologetic tribalism; Dublin and Kerry fans alike had so much emotional investment in what was happening on the pitch for those often agonising 76 minutes.

It was incredible to see the Dubs make it five in a row. People tell me that I was extremely blessed to witness such a historic event for my first ever Gaelic football match in Croke Park. From what I saw that day, however, this generation of boys in blue aren’t finished making history just yet.

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