Politicians eye rivals nervously and wait for opponents to drop the ball
The past month's sports fixtures have been dominated by county football finals.
These are often grim, low-scoring affairs played out between old neighbours and adversaries, who know each other only too well and thus compete against one another to the last ounce.
The games frequently turn on an error made by one or other side which allows the victor in for a goal, or, in very exceptional circumstances, a second.
These grim football struggles mirror the state of our current politics. All the parties and Independents are busy making below-the-parapet preparations.
One veteran TD confided to this writer this week that he will mobilise some 320 people in his effort to win re-election next spring.
Some of these will tirelessly pound the canvass beat, others' only role will be to squire him to about a score of homes in his or her locality and make vital introductions.
"Without those local introductions, I'd be at nothing calling to some houses," the veteran politician admitted.
The more visible realm of our politics right now is something of a stalemate, as each politician waits hopefully for opponents to drop the ball and make that vital error.
But the shrewder ones among them well know that their fate may ultimately be decided by voters who take in their politics in a series of distant glances. All the competitors will give a deal of care and attention to plans aimed at grabbing the support of those less-engaged voters.
The current crop of controversies dominating our political agenda do not enthuse those barely engaged voters.
There is the 10-day-old row over odd statements by the Taoiseach that the Army was on standby in 2011 to defend bank ATMs; a bitter Fine Gael and Labour row over rent curbs; and an impending parliamentary Bank Inquiry report.
All of these can damage the Coalition at a tricky time. But for now the vital disengaged voters are at best bemused by occasional glances at these rows.
And our politicians will continue their shuffle slowly towards polling day, all the time wary of making mistakes which could cost them vital votes.