Monday 20 November 2017

Cats wary as five-itis rears its ugly head

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

It seems the TV aerial above the pub turned and twisted like a weather vane during the course of the Kerry-Down game. Some say it was the wind, but I blame a conclave of hundreds of IBS starlings.

These dirty birds have ruined many a clothesline and inflict even more interference on the TV signal than the time the postman delivered a package from Anne Summers to a woman who lived up the road.

The reception stayed snowy for the Sunday semi-final, by then I was back behind the bar.

There are times when winding up the customers keep us sane. I ordered my 81-year-old mother to "G'up on that roof and fix that TV aerial. Twirl it about and when it's back in kilt, I'll shout up at you."

This American lady laid into me. "You made your mom climb up on the roof. How dare you?" "Ah but," I said bravely in my own defence: "It's only the bare 11 stories."

My mother came in from the kitchen. Unexpectedly. "How did you get down so fast?" asked our cousin John Looney. "Did you abseil?"

The American declared she was going to complain about me. Hopefully she went to the 4Cs. There were no charges this week either. The 4Cs have a worse detection rate than the three monkeys.

I wouldn't send the mother up on the roof. That mighty woman has done far too much for me. Likewise, the Kerry team. For sure Down deserved their win, but there will be no criticism of our lads -- they are still the platinum generation.

We'll never know, but the Mourne men might well have won even if Tomas O Se and Paul Galvin were available. They wanted this one so badly, right from the off. And they kicked great scores.


Benny Coulter's best was a classic. He stopped the traffic with one wave of his hand and kicked a point going round the chicane at the bottom of Hill 16 with his thigh skirting the grass like a motorbike rider.

So, what we will we do, now there's no football? There's always the hurling.

Cork are 5/1 against to stop Kilkenny's five-in-a-row. The Rebels will feel they have nothing to lose. Hurling is their glory game and there is no way Cork will lie down.

Kilkenny are little more than a couple of hours play away from the five-in-a-row, but Brian Cody has banned the No 5. The whole county is in on it.

Kilkenny kids count one, two, three, four, half -- 10. The card games have been put on hold. Twenty five is no more. High fives have been replaced with congrats and handshakes. The signs on shop doors read 'back in six minutes'. Bennetsbridge is a 300-second drive from the city and fivers have gone the way of the farthing.

The Kilkenny hurlers play openly in Nowlan Park and there are no minders who will tell well-wishers the players are not signing the backs of kids' jerseys today.

The Cats are easy-going and approachable and have to face out into the world every day to earn a living. It's not just about playing the game. In a way, that's the easy part. The build-up has being going on since the last puck in the four-in-a-row.

I was back home in 1982, the summer Kerry contracted a dose of five-itis.

There was a row between Tralee and Killarney as to which town would be first to host the homecoming. Victory songs were composed and put away like apple pies in the freezer for the big day.

Our good friend Din Stack, full- forward to the stars, cousin to the Brogans and a former Mayor of our town, bought 5,000 green and gold beach balls with Kerry five-in-a-row stamped all over.

He sold the balls to an entrepreneur from Tullamore and made money in spite of the fact there are no beaches in Offaly -- even when the tide goes out.

Kilkenny seem to have avoided these excesses. Brian Cody is a much respected teacher, but all he can say is settle down lads and hope for the best.

From now on, he will find it impossible to douse the fires of expectation. The game will reflect the high stakes. There's a recent needle prodding both sides. It's to do with a book, a movie, a gay goalie and a Trade Union dispute.

The first few minutes will fly; a dam burst of dreams, intensity, honour, history, glory, bitterness, revenge, ash-clash, new leaders, old warriors fading, but fighting the dying light and every puck earned like a medal of honour. The opening exchanges of a big hurling game make for the most dramatic first scene in theatre world.

Kilkenny are the best we have ever seen and should triumph, but I have this feeling Cork's pride will ensure a contest that will mask the ending up until the last act.

This Cork team have done so much for the game and our enjoyment of it over a decade or more. It would not be fair to criticise them here either, but have they the legs for 70 something minutes? They definitely have the heart for it.

So, much to look forward to then. We had better put a scarecrow up on the roof. Herself is unavailable for aerial sentry duty. She has to mow the Mountain Meadow all on her own. The Irish Draught has a dose of hay fever.

Irish Independent

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