Saturday 21 April 2018

Don't be fooled by the 'cute hoors' or the blanket defence

Kristan Lyane (9), Ardfert, Co Kerry, hedges his bets on the winner of tomorrow's final
Kristan Lyane (9), Ardfert, Co Kerry, hedges his bets on the winner of tomorrow's final

Michael Verney

Gaelic Football's show-piece event is on your doorstep and the players gracing Croke Park aren't the only ones who must prepare diligently.

Seeing Kerry and Dublin back in the final may draw groans from many neutrals but at the same time their rivalry will ensure that sparks fly tomorrow.

Between them, they have almost as many All-Ireland football championships as every other county combined.

Kerry are defending the trophy which Dublin last won in 2013.

But don't worry too much about history. Once the teams take to the field, this will be all about the 70-minute battle royale.

Armchair pundits across the country will shout and yell instructions, blame the referee, question the substitutions and ultimately decide for themselves whether the best team actually won.

Here's a few simple things that you need to know if you want to fit in:

Trying to make sense of the colour?

The champions, Kerry, wear the iconic green and gold, while challengers Dublin don sky blue. Their iconic rivalry transcends time.

Name-dropping legends like Pat Spillane, Jack O'Shea, Brian Mullins and Jimmy Keaveney, while yearning for the "good auld days", will wow your company.

What are the names I need to roar ad nauseam?

If you're shouting for the Boys in Blue, follow one simple rule and always add an "o" to the end of one's name i.e. "Berno", "Dermo" or "Clucko".

If you're from Kerry and unfamiliar with their marquee names, are you sure you're from Kerry? "Gooch", "Star" and "Murph" are your go-to yelps to drown the "Gwan de Dubs" townie war cry.

Just how many cards are there?

Black, yellow and red are the three colours issued by the man in the middle.

Yellow and red are given for serious fouls (note: mass brawls in Gaelic are know as melees or shemozzles), while black cards are dished out for unmanly-like cynicism. Down with that sort of thing.

I thought curling was the only sweeping sport?

No, you do not need a blanket to defend you from the winter chill.

Blanket defences and sweepers are a GAA craze to reduce the concession of scores.

"Sure they can't break down the blanket" while repetitively preaching the significance of "turnovers" will leave heads spinning.

I thought goalkeepers just stopped goals?

Reference to Stephen Cluxton's revolutionary kick-outs will drop jaws: "Sure Cluxton would put it in your mouth."

His ability to score All-Ireland-winning frees, as in 2011 and 2013 (write those years on your hand), is unparalleled and when others take the ball, commence the "leave it to Clucko" chant.

It's high-octane stuff. They must be well paid like those soft fellas that play soccer?

These guys will send pulses racing with their incredible athleticism, but they must all go to jobs in the morning.

A "pay for play" debate never loses its relevance if you dig yourself a hole.

The Dubs have a huge population, they must surely be the favourites?

Dublin are slight favourites but most pundits think it's too close to call. They needed a replay to see off Mayo in the semi-final. Those tough games will either stand to them or else be blamed for sapping their energies.

What exactly is a cute Kerry hoor?

If Kerry prevail, many will tip their hat to the masters of the hoodwink.

They regularly lure 31 counties into believing they are finished and toasts will be raised in their honour come Sunday evening.

Ultimately, a draw might not be the worse bet in the world.

Irish Independent

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