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Why I stopped being a Dub and became Louth and proud

As one of the thousands who grew up in Dublin but moved to commuterland during the boom, I thought I'd never consider myself anything other than a transplanted Dub.

Now I realise that all has changed. After only 10 years of living a few miles up the road, I can't cheer for Dublin in the big match at Croker this Saturday.

Instead, I'll be roaring for, gulp, Louth!

Can it be? Have I actually evolved from blow-in to culchie? Is such a transformation even possible?

Apparently so, because after a lifetime of waiting for Dublin to relive the glory years of Heffo's Army, I've switched allegiances.

Unheard of, I know.

We can change lots of things about ourselves nowadays. We can go from single to married to divorced. We can go from male to female. But to shrug off the taint of the blow-in? Not in a lifetime. Maybe in five generations.

I was a child in Dublin in the distant days when they still won All- Irelands. St Enda's, the local GAA club, was a hub of activity. We trained there as kids and went to discos there as teenagers.

Back then, rural Ireland was very, very distant. Neighbours across the road had a holiday home in, em, Balbriggan.

The gulf between city and country was vast, the idea of supporting any team but Dublin unthinkable.

Yet here I am, wanting Louth to win. Which means that somehow, despite myself, the weed that blew in has put down roots.

Maybe it's because, all these years later, I have a nine-year-old who plays football at a Louth GAA club (St Feichin's, known as The Feckers). Maybe it's a reaction to the heartbreak of the "Dick Turpin without a mask" showdown with Meath. Maybe it's because Co Louth so rarely has its spot in the sun.

Dublin's always had lots of kids whose parents came from, and therefore cheered for, other counties. My best friend supported Kerry, because that's where her dad was born. My own dad only ever took us to Croker when Fermanagh was playing, so we could watch his home county lose.

Now, in a single generation, the boot's on the other foot. Rural Ireland is full of kids who have one or both parents from Dublin.

Sometimes something makes us look into our hearts and admit that, sigh, the city isn't home anymore.

Funnily enough, I'll probably be watching the big match in Dublin, in my mum's sitting room in the house where I grew up.

On top of a dresser, carefully preserved under glass, there's a photo taken in the 1970s. I'd say my brother was in the third class, and he's smiling hugely because he's standing right beside the Sam Maguire. The trophy had stopped at his school as part of a triumphant journey throughout the county.

It's a long time since any of us, Dublin or Louth supporters, have got that close to Sam. Whatever happens on Saturday, one of us will have crept a little bit closer.

I hope it's Louth, though.


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