Plenty to give out about for the Dubs
THE GAA uninitiated usually aren't too hard to spot around Croke Park on big match days.
And they stick out even more when Dublin take over at headquarters.
Amongst the sea of sky blue and the sprinkling of Westmeath maroon milling around Clonliffe Road before yesterday's Leinster football championship semi-final, stood two distinctly German-looking tourists wearing backpacks and macs.
Overdressed and overprepared, the pair, Jasmin Schafer and Florian Gremler, said they wanted to take in a game of the good old Gah while on a two-week holiday to Ireland.
"We don't know anything about Gaelic football, but we wanted to see it while we were over here," said Florian.
"We got tickets from the Dublin tourism office and of course we are up for Dublin.
"We just hope we don't see any hooliganism," he added, looking warily at the hordes of pot-bellied Dubs at the corner of St Joseph's Avenue making their way onto Hill 16.
But he needn't have worried because we don't do hooliganism at Croke Park. Instead, there was the usual collection of that uniquely Dub species: the generally good-natured but often abusive and ill tempered fan.
And the delayed start -- throw-in was 15 minutes late -- stuttering win and middling performance from the boys in blue gave the supporters plenty to give out about yesterday.
The referee, the opposition (one player was rather uncharitably described as having "a head like a used plaster"), their own team, the 'Maor Uisce' from Westmeath and the ref again all came in for stick from the masses of blue on the Hill.
Some even managed to have a pop at the 'hats, flags and headbands' contingent of street sellers flogging their wares around Ballybough.
One man, obviously concerned that inflation was having an effect on the price of flags as well as everything else, was outraged when told a big banner would set him back €10.
"Wha? 10 bleedin' euro?" he harrumphed. "Jaysus, I might as well go and support Meath. That might be bloody cheaper," he added.
But at least they went home happy. The Westmeath contingent, on the other hand, were left rueing plenty of missed chances.
"I thought we were going to win until the last 15 minutes, then we were robbed," said lake county supporter Declan Sharry. Others were prepared for defeat as they took their seats before the match.
"Westmeath will have it all to do," said Ray Martin from Delvin. "I'd say Dublin will win. Westmeath have too little and the Dubs will have too much for them."
The Dublin team and supporters now have a Leinster final to look forward to, although a performance that was described as both "sub par" and "a load of pox" will have to be improved upon if the Dubs are to retain their provincial crown.