It was hard not to feel for the young couple and their three kids in St Anne’s Park yesterday morning.
All dressed up and nowhere to go. The kids were decked out in green, topped off with their St Patrick’s Day hats.
Decent looking ones too, not the kind that would disintegrate in the first shower of rain. The plan would have been to go to the parade. Instead their folks had dragged them along to the local park, making the best of a bad lot.
"Ok, first round the goalposts and back!"
The starting point was a park bench where the goodies were being minded by the mother. The eldest girl took off - not with any great enthusiasm, but enough to make sure she got back in time to get first pick. The younger siblings moaned and groaned and struggled to raise a jog. It was a hard sell.
Days like this are supposed to be gimmes. Depending on your interest or allegiances, St Patrick's Day in Dublin down through the years was either the GAA club finals in Croker or the schools final in Lansdowne Road.
Wildly different affairs, the first – now shifted in the calendar, independently of the virus – is a celebration of the parish; the second is all about the school. For each organisation, these are the primary player pathways.
The GAA version is the perfect storybook presentation: it’s a gathering of adults who came together as kids in their parish club, stuck together, and here they are on finals day in Croke Park, the GAA's field of dreams.
The provincial schools cups have their own story, of which Leinster, for obvious reasons, is always the biggest: it is the culmination of a six-year effort from lads who convened for their secondary school education and bonded over the school's passion for rugby – specifically, the chances of getting to Paddy's Day.
Never mind that rugby's version is an age-grade competition and the GAA's is not, the fundamental difference is all about the destination.
If you were playing for any of Corofin, Kilcoo, Ballyhale or Borris-Ileigh in the football and hurling finals two months ago, you have arrived already.
You may not be fully formed as an athlete, you might be 19 playing alongside a 29-year-old, and you may have missed the boat sailing towards a county career, but being there already puts you in a ticked box going back to the day your folks brought you through the gates of the club as a toddler. Result.
The schools' rugby template is different. For many institutions, it’s all about getting to Paddy’s Day, not what might or might not happen in the sporting life beyond it.
One of the key drivers in the success of the Leinster professional set-up has been managing to share some of the headspace of teenagers in top rugby schools.
The idea of rugby life after school can be a hard sell to those hamsters on the wheel, especially given the interference from those coaches in white coats.
Recently a friend's son came home from the hot-house rugby school he attends – happily - and told his old man he'd rather be playing for the Bs than the As. Most of his pals were on the lower rung.
The As were a very serious operation. The moment that swung his vote had come at training that day when, in the highly choreographed playing style which the school adopts, he arrived fractionally late to an appointed spot on the field.
By way of explaining the gravity of this kid's cock-up the coach told him: "That could cost us a schools' cup!" The lad in question is 14.
Not that the GAA is without its fanatics.
Even still there seems to be an obsession with training as close to dawn as possible, as deep into winter as possible, as often as possible, for as many teams as possible.
When the sports world started shutting itself down last week it was hard to think of an organisation anywhere in western Europe in more pain than the GAA.
At least they had their club finals squared away. To all four parishes it had been a massive feature in their lives.
Talk to anyone whose club has travelled that route and they'll tell you it's life-changing stuff.
Which is why the pressure has been intense on the GAA to carve out safe space in its calendar for this hoe-down. If the club, and how it caters for boys, girls, women and men, is at the epicentre of the organisation, then build a wall around it. As yet, it is incomplete.
The weakness for Irish rugby as a community game is that our schools pageant is on a different building site altogether.
Its best bits are often epic – the clash between Newbridge and St Michael's in this season's Leinster schools senior semi-final was in that category – but when it's done, it's done.
Like the GAA club finals, those involved will see it was a huge event in their lives. There will be reunions and revisits and mental reruns but for many there may be not so much as any rugby thereafter.
This imbalance is one the IRFU have never addressed. Success above the line for our national and provincial sides militates, ironically, against looking under that bonnet to fix a recurring fault.
We hope that somehow the schools finals for 2020 will see the light of day before everything goes dark.
Equally we hope those involved see it as a staging post, and not the end. There is life beyond the parade.