Sunday, September 9, 2012


'Sit yourself down there and watch real men play sport,' I muttered to Gustav, a rare cultural superiority causing me, at an atomic level, to pulse. Slightly.
   'Fastest game in the known universe,' I said as we sat down. Cheap beer. Orange colored can. Sounds foreign.
   'What are those in hands?' he asked. I went on to explain what they were, what the players could do with them and told Gus that in a few hours time, one set of them would be the Hurling champions of the world.
   'But it is only in Ireland you play?' he said.
   'Well yes. Professionally anyways,' I said. 'But - without pay.'
   'I not understand this country sometimes,' he said as a posse of people invaded the hallowed turf of Croke Park. Hallowed everywhere, it would seem!
   You and me both, Gus!
What was this? The posse stretched themselves out into flags of welcome. A cry to the Irish masses who find themselves abroad. From RTÉ.
   Come back we call. Next year. For a time. Too dwell. Too spend.
   The Gathering.
   By all means come. We are a land of a thousand welcomes. Run ragged through the ages, the melancholy hides in the rain for those that remained. Too squabble. Too drink. Too play...

'Why he hit his friend with stick?' Gustav asked.
   'It's a Hurley,' I said.
   'Yeah. Hurley.'
   'He's G-ing him up,' I said. 'Getting ready for battle.'
   'I think I like this sport,' Gus said leaning forward. Lips drying up.
   'What's it name again?'
   The roar went out from within the cauldron and could be heard in every door throughout the land such was its might.
   OK, that's drivel. But it did go up and it does carry. Impressive also.
   I wish I'd surround sound.

Just an hour an a half later and both of us were exhausted. Gus' hair whipped east and west. I didn't bother pulling at mine. He's opted for the Tribesmen - because he 'don't like cats.'
   For a time it looked like he'd picked a winner. Galway, the men from the West - the provincial champions of Leinster - looked like they were picking up again from that Leinster final day when they whipped the cream from the Kilkenny whisker in a ten-point mauling. It's not often it happens, but it did force the Black Cats to think that perhaps, this year, they might not have things all their own way.
   But the Cats are a strange bunch. Instead of bickering and analysing everything, they closed their training camps to the public and held their enquiries behind closed door, before demonstrating the look of the Kilkenny of old in an successful, but unexpected, detour through the playoffs.
   It's rumoured throughout the island that Cats are born with a Hurl in hand. They have won five of the previous six All-Ireland finals. 33 in all. Star man of an age, Henry Shefflin, stood on the threshold of becoming the first Irishman to hold nine All-Ireland winning medals won from the field of play.
   But at half-time it looked like Galway were on to something as they left the pitch with a healthy five-point lead. It looked like the Tribesmen could bring the Liam McCarthy cup back across the Shannon for the first time in 24 years. 
   In the end, Shefflin came within seconds of his place in history, before Galway's Joe Canning slotted over a free, having just missed one from a similar range the minute before. A sighing Shefflin at the final whistle was left reflecting on a thunderous personal performance - but one that could have been that little more, perhaps enough to have seen his kittens over the line.
   Trading scores with Joe Canning for much of the match, both players ended up scoring twelves points each. Canning, in his first final, scored 1-9. Shefflin's scored an even dozen points.The same number of Leinster titles he holds as it happens.
   Shefflin looked to set his own personal bar early on with a goal attempt from a close-range free - only to see it saved. When faced (twice) with similar situations in the second half, he opted for points.  But when Kilkenny were awarded a late penalty, Shefflin once again assumed the leadership role - and opted for a point instead of going for goal, despite having hit the net on four occasions in previous All-Ireland finals.

'So what happen now?' Gus said at the end.
   Converted or what?!
   He was none too happy when I told him there was to be no extra-time. Cashing-in and all that.
   'I think this game is well for 3-D,' he said. 'It be awesomeness. That how you say?'
   Sure is, Gus - and what an idea! We should grab ourselves some suits and BS our way into RTé. An unemployed writer and a foreigner. In to save the day at the cash-strapped cash cow. Selling Hurling to the world - through green tinted glasses. Few pints of the black stuff and away with ye. Might be interesting on whiskey too. Get the NFL involved. Keep all our athletes in good jobs.  Ones that pay a little.
   'So, did you play this game?' Gus asked, as I flicked the TV off.
   'Nope,' I conceded. 'Far too windy.'
   Have a think about that my foreign buddy. I heard him mutter 'ah, the weather' as I went to relive myself. That supermarket stuff doesn't half run through ye.

He left a few hour ago.  Human contact done for another week. Opens a writing window.
   'I walk Linda from work home,' he said.
   Clouds closing in. Hope he doesn't get wet.
   Yesterday was a Vitamin-D stockin'-up day. Make hay while the sun shines - or something like that. Glad the weeks done with. A chance to put behind one of those cage rattlers that pass through us all from time to time. Just to let us now how fragile most things are. To remind us to take it all in whist we can.
   I don't like weeks like that. Weeks that make you think. Weeks that don't make sense. That kinda pull people about a little. Giving folk a little shake.

Too remind of whatever, wanted or 'wise.


The ramblings here are three-years old this week, so great to see the blog shortlisted in the categories of Personal, Pop Culture and Humor  blogs this week in the Blog Awards Ireland.

Booker's World will be free to download tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday at this link.


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