Author Topic: Last Saturday's Sideline Cut - Keith Duggan (Irish Times)  (Read 2950 times)

An Lark

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Last Saturday's Sideline Cut - Keith Duggan (Irish Times)
« on: September 12, 2007, 01:10:43 PM »
Good article here by Duggan. It's disturbing and not too surprising and says a lot about this country. I wasn't sure whether to put this is the Hurling or Non-GAA section but as the backdrop is the Hurling All-Ireland final I settled on putting it here. [Apologies if it's been posted already].

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Dark undercurrents mar brightest days
by Keith Duggan (Irish Times)

Sideline Cut: In a taxi on the way from the All-Ireland hurling final in Croke Park on Sunday evening, the driver remarked that there had been a fairly boozy atmosphere around the streets. He had already picked up one or two fares leaving the match who were well tipsy and halfway belligerent - not necessarily towards him, just towards the world in general. The disappointment of the match and the general fatigue of the day had begun to kick in. He was an ex-hurler himself, had played for Waterford back with Tom Cheasty, but he was much more interested in talking about the latest match.

Kilkenny had left him purring in appreciation. As pleasant as people come and happily exiled in Dublin for over 30 years, he was disappointed his native county had not made it through to the first Sunday, the decorative national day. But he was sanguine about it too. Kilkenny, he reckoned, were just too good for the rest.

There is always a restless feeling about All-Ireland final evenings in Dublin city. Even as Henry Shefflin raised the cup, there was the sense of autumn sweeping across the low, terraced roofs and the ghettoised Georgian streets where O'Casey roamed.

The fans dispersed quickly. Because Kilkenny is so close to Dublin, the majority of the winning crowd were keen to depart, the better to get a good seat in the hurling bars of the Marble City or Ballyhale or Gowran and to celebrate and analyse a 30th All-Ireland in their own laconic way.

All day the streets had been dense with the green shirts of Limerick, and as evening fell, that was the prevailing colour in the pubs, and it was as though the mass disappointment, all those deflated hopes and all of the energy and anticipation of the previous fortnight, were drifting around the city. Dublin felt gloomy.

In Heuston Station, the platforms were busy and the train announcements were coming thick and fast over the loudspeaker when one Limerick fan decided to spark a smoke as he leaned against the railings. Idly, we in line watched to see how long he would get away with it, and within a minute an Irish Rail employee approached and advised him of the current rules and regulations regarding smoking in public places. He was tall and well-groomed and clearly foreign.

The hurling fan left his pint of stout balancing on the railing and offered his best chest-out, tough-guy stance to the Irish Rail guy, who probably stood one full foot over him. The Limerick fan gave the guest of the nation a good tongue-lashing, which concluded: "Do you understand my f*****g language?"

Clearly, he did. The security guard just walked away, and feeling vindicated, the hurling fan took a long, deep drag. Mutely, we watched on in our dozens, proud to be Irish. After a short time, a lady from Irish Rail appeared flanked by security guards and instructed the fan to leave the premises.

She might have been his sister or his aunt. He understood the accent and the message and although his decision might have been influenced by the presence of the other security guards, he consented and wandered out to the street, grumbling.

Later, on the train west, two Kilkenny lads sat in the aisle across. They were celebrating the championship with a bottle of vodka, two-litre Coke bottles and paper cups, and they were in the mood for conversation.

Bringing your own seemed like a sensible precaution given the precariousness of the bar service on Irish trains - and Iarnród Éireann don't even charge corkage. The lads tippled away merrily and were inquisitive and opinionated in a good-humoured way. But their mood darkened around Athlone.

One of the men was heavily insistent that his life story required telling in the form of a serialised and heavily promoted book that would be a guaranteed bestseller. He dropped a series of heavy hints about having been witness to some fairly hardcore acts of violence down the years. Later on, he declared himself a leading member of the KK Klan, either a real or imagined kind of nativist sect in his home city. He announced himself a racist. At this point, his buddy clarified that they were both racists.

To put it bluntly, he said they both hated "n***ers". Hated the way they drove around "in 10-year-old BMWs". Hated the way that on the streets of Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, it wasn't the "n***ers" lying on the streets at night but the Irish. Hated the way the Government weren't looking after our own first. Hated the way their opinion would never make the newspapers because it was "the f***ing truth".

"Sorry to be going on," they said. It's just that this was important. It made them angry. "Put that in yer f*****g paper."

The sermon rang throughout the carriage.

There was always the option of seeking out another seat - west of the Shannon, carriages were half empty and most passengers were sleeping. But why go to the trouble of seeking other seating because a few lads were sauced up? In the end, though, alternative seating had to be found when the KK Klan leader, possibly disillusioned by his failure to secure a biographer, all of a sudden did his best Travis Bickle (of Taxi Driver fame) impersonation and decided he wanted to enhance his repertoire of violence. There was nothing in it: as the Dead Kennedys once sang, he was Too drunk to f***.

But as the train rumbled on and a harassed ticket conductor tried to reason with the fans the thought occurred: how discontented would they have been had their county lost? And through the haze of vodka and the clichéd diatribe, you could hear echoes of a generation of Irishmen who believe themselves disenfranchised and, in a strange way, champions of the Irish forgotten. After the moving and traditional scenes we'd witnessed in Croke Park, it made for a discordant show of the kind of pride-in-place the GAA advertisements milk like the last cow.

Of course, you can meet drunk men with grievances and latent anger all over the world, born belligerents compelled, as the late Tupac put it, to "keep on thuggin' from the cradle to the grave".

Nonetheless, we are never slow to harp on about how the All-Ireland hurling final is a marvellous celebration of our culture, a glorious tableau of who we are and where we came from. Proud boasts that the hurling final is Ireland's day of days. It is all that. But maybe there is a smug, unspoken note of exclusivity about that notion as well.

For last Sunday also provided troubling indications that behind the facade of heroes on the fabled turf in Croke Park broadcast around the world, this country has a mean-spirited and angry edge, a small man's paradise suspicious of change and irritated by the mere thought of different skin.

The GAA are doing a lot of good work to make sure kids who arrive on these shores will have sport if not much else. But there is a long way to go. If the big dream of All-Ireland finals featuring players with forebears from the far continents ever comes to pass, not all of our proud and splendid Gaels will be cheering.

© 2007 The Irish Times

Declan

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Re: Last Saturday's Sideline Cut - Keith Duggan (Irish Times)
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2007, 02:26:23 PM »
Quote
this country has a mean-spirited and angry edge, a small man's paradise suspicious of change and irritated by the mere thought of different skin.

God article and how true the above sentence is . Land of a thousand welcomes me arse

tayto

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Re: Last Saturday's Sideline Cut - Keith Duggan (Irish Times)
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2007, 10:51:48 AM »
I doubt anywhere in the world is any different in fairness.

Gnevin

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Re: Last Saturday's Sideline Cut - Keith Duggan (Irish Times)
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2007, 12:57:01 PM »
Thanks for pointing out what everyone all ready knew , their are racists in Ireland , their are Drunks in Ireland ,their are pricks in ireland
Anyway, long story short... is a phrase whose origins are complicated and rambling.

the ship

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Re: Last Saturday's Sideline Cut - Keith Duggan (Irish Times)
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2007, 04:32:34 PM »
Thanks for pointing out what everyone all ready knew , their are racists in Ireland , their are Drunks in Ireland ,their are pricks in ireland

wearing kilkenny jerseys

Punxsutawney Fergal

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Re: Last Saturday's Sideline Cut - Keith Duggan (Irish Times)
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2007, 05:20:08 PM »
To be honest, I think you will find pretty much every county has their share of racists! It seems to be the Irish thing of forgetting that we spent years invading other countries looking for jobs, now that the shoe is on the other foot we can't stop moaning about it.

tayto

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Re: Last Saturday's Sideline Cut - Keith Duggan (Irish Times)
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2007, 10:55:16 AM »
I think it takes any country a while to get used to immigration, especially when it used to be the other way around. Sadly there's idiots out there that'll begrudge anything and immigrants are an easy target.

Gnevin

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Re: Last Saturday's Sideline Cut - Keith Duggan (Irish Times)
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2007, 11:41:02 AM »
I think it takes any country a while to get used to immigration, especially when it used to be the other way around. Sadly there's idiots out there that'll begrudge anything and immigrants are an easy target.
Sure it was single mothers before and before that the travelers  ::) ::)
Anyway, long story short... is a phrase whose origins are complicated and rambling.

tayto

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Re: Last Saturday's Sideline Cut - Keith Duggan (Irish Times)
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2007, 01:38:33 PM »
exactly.