You can't understand Micheál Martin without understanding Nemo Rangers. The mark of his local club is upon him.
I remember some years ago seeing Nemo play a county championship match against Ilen Rovers in Clonakilty. There were a couple of minutes remaining in the game, which Nemo were winning by a big margin, when a ball was played down the left wing.
A Rovers defender looked favourite to get it but one of the Nemo mentors on the sideline went into a virtual frenzy exhorting one of the team's forwards to chase after it. You'd have sworn the whole outcome depended on this. Your man got to the ball and Nemo ended up adding another point to the tally.
Some would say this was an admirable example of the Cork City club's relentless pursuit of excellence. Others might wonder if they really needed to rub it in quite so hard.
The thing about Nemo is that while they are greatly admired in Cork they are not much loved. Club great Dinny Allen acknowledged that before an All-Ireland final years ago when he told the Evening Echo that Nemo knew other clubs were hoping they'd lose but didn't care.
Micheál Martin (pictured) suffers from the same lovability deficit. He seems an intelligent and capable man. But people, as we've seen at successive elections, don't really warm to him. They find something cold and clinical about the Fianna Fáil leader.
Above all they seem to feel he's a bit smug. That's hardly surprising. Cork is the county which thinks it's better than all the others and Nemo is the club which thinks it's better than all the other clubs in Cork.
So we're talking off the charts levels of smugness. Small wonder that some of it may have rubbed off on a man who is a lifelong member of the club and whose son Micheál Aodh is goalkeeper on the senior team.
There's also the fact that Fianna Fáil are the same kind of traditional all-conquering force in Irish politics as Nemo are in Cork football.
All Sinn Féin's talk about it being entitled to govern because they won the 'popular vote' ignores the fact that if such a precedent actually existed Fianna Fáil would have been in power non-stop between 1932 and 2010.
Being on a team which almost always wins can breed a certain arrogance.
Nemo haven't had things all their own way. They've enjoyed a great rivalry with fellow city club St Finbarr's. The Barrs are Fine Gael to Nemo's Fianna Fáil, traditional opponents who have engaged in many memorable contests with the kingpins and lost most of them. When Nemo meet the Barrs, the talk surrounding the contest can suggest the former feel the latter are their only proper rivals.
Hence Nemo's surprise when they began to be challenged by the previously unheralded West Cork clubs, most notably Castlehaven. These teams upset the cosy city cartel. They were also acutely aware of a certain condescension on the part of the big guns.
There is a story of how, on the day when Nemo met 'Haven for the first time in the championship, a player from the city club declared to his opposite number, "We didn't come down here to lose to a bunch of f***ing farmers."
Michael Martin's attitude to Sinn Féin could be summed up as: 'We didn't come down here to lose to a bunch of f***ing Provos.' But Nemo actually lost the game in question and Fianna Fáil effectively lost the last election.
Sinn Féin may be the Castlehaven of Irish politics. They've made rapid progress from the junior to the senior ranks and combine great populist energy with a certain ruthlessness.
Martin can't hide his conviction that Sinn Féin don't really belong in the political county final. They're not worthy rivals. This kind of disrespect rankles with people. It makes them even more determined to beat you.
Nemo would argue that they're entitled to a certain superior attitude. Haven't they won more county titles than anyone else? The other clubs are just jealous. Micheál Martin seems to feel the same way about politics. His rivals shouldn't feel slighted by his conviction that Fianna Fáil are the best. It's nothing personal, it's just the way things are.
Because at the end of the day, Nemo are the reigning Cork champions and Micheál Martin is set to fulfil the inevitable destiny of all Fianna Fáil leaders by becoming Taoiseach.
Some teams were just born to rule.