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The match? It's just an excuse for men to skip work and lie on the sofa

SAY goodbye to Saturday, girls. The match tomorrow has now mushroomed into three Six Nations games as Ireland play France, England play Italy and Wales play Scotland.

Watching Ireland will not be enough for your man. He'll have to watch them all. It's something to do with adding up the points to see who wins.

He'll present this to you as a fact, as if he were togging out himself. If you try to get him to miss one game as his daughter has camogie or his mammy needs to be taken to a month's mind for her sister, he'll look at you as if you've asked him to postpone a heart by-pass.

"It's the match!" he'll say, part-shocked, part-hurt. "How can you be so insensitive? What are you talking about, you don't want to take Mammy to Mass on Saturday at noon? Work, slave! I have sit on the couch."

That's all they do, you know. They go on and on about the game, then the sitting room door closes and they sit on the couch for the afternoon. Or they lie down if there's space.

They let an odd roar out of them – "Come on, Ireland" – then lie down again. They probably sleep some of the time.

Oh look, I'm not being fair. I'm forgetting about the very active men who get up off their bums every time there's a match on and go to the pub, where they spend an exhausting afternoon lifting pints to their lips in front of a big screen.

They can't say to you: "You'll have to take Mammy to Mass because I have to lie on the couch/go to the pub."

So instead, there's a national conspiracy called "the match" – an international conspiracy in the case of the Six Nations.

OBSESSION

This wouldn't be so bad, except that in Ireland we have a full season of Gaelic games ahead of us, not to mention the obsession with English soccer. There's hardly a weekend afternoon in the year when he can't say "the match" and watch you trotting off to do his work.

You're going to tell me there are girls who watch matches, and you're right. Those are some clever girls. Early on in the courtship they realised that if they didn't insist on lying on the couch with the television on every Saturday, they'd be doing his work for him – cleaning his house, minding his kids, elderly mammy, aunties and grannies, trailing around empty supermarkets and, the final indignity, cooking his dinner because he needs building-up after a hard afternoon on the couch or at the pub.

God knows who does the work in these girls' houses while the match is on. Some poor female neighbour probably drops everything and takes in their children out of charity.

But it's too late for we others to pretend. It won't work if you whip your apron off and run into the sitting-room this Saturday screaming: "Don't leave us, Brian!"

No, we need a conspiracy of our own. Something they don't understand and slightly fear – like hats. We need to pretend there's a league for hat trimming, on Saturdays on a little-known channel.

He'll say "Mary has to be brought to camogie" and you'll say: "But the show."

"What show?" he'll ask. You'll look part-shocked, part-hurt as you say: "The hat show. Philip Treacy's in with a shout. We're watching it up at Breda's."

Breda doesn't have a telly, but he doesn't know that. All he knows is you're gone.

You're not saying he can't watch all the matches. But they'll have to be fitted in between Mary's camogie and Mammy's Mass. You'd love to help, but what can you do? It's the hat show.


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