The Corkman who loves Kilkenny and looks up to Women’s Sport


What time should we hit the road on Sunday? The bloody road works in Naas still aren’t finished.

Before we get to that, I’ve a bit of news.

Oh. Is it the prostate again?

The prostate is fine. It’s this: I love Kilkenny.

Jesus, keep your voice down. What are you on about?

I’m reading a brilliant book at the moment called Amateur. It’s by Thomas Page McBee and he’s a transgender man who took part in a boxing match in Madison Square Garden in 2015. In the very first chapter of the book, he describes the fight and his opponent. He writes: ‘The truth was, I loved him even as I danced around him with my hands in the air.’ The purity of revelation in that statement floored me.

Right. Is he from Kilkenny? This McBee fella?

He’s from America, but that’s not the point. The point is that he looked at the man who was about to give him a hiding in front of fifteen hundred drunk boxing fans in the most famous venue in the world, and all he could feel was love.

And you love Kilkenny the same way?

Yes, but it’s not just me. You do, too. We all do.

Leave me out of it.

Listen. What McBee is saying is this. He used to be a woman, right? All his life he wanted to be a man, he wanted to feel like a man, he wanted to look like a man and now here he was standing alone in front of a man and he realised for the first time that they were both the same. And if you love yourself (and he did, in that moment, under those lights and the hot gaze of the fight fans; in that testosterone laden body wearing only those boxing trunks and shoes; behind those scars on his chest; with his teeth gritted against the rubber of the gum shield) – if you love yourself, you also love those that are the same as you. And Kilkenny are the same as us, so we love them. Deep down, we have to. Otherwise there’s no point.

But what about 2006? And 2003? ’92? ’83? ’82? That 2009 league match in Nolan Park? The list is long. Lory Meagher? ‘Kilkenny by a point’? Brian Cody? Fan Larkin? Shefflin? Reid?

I love Lory Meagher, I love Brian Cody, I love Fan Larkin and Henry Shefflin and T.J. Reid.

Jackie Tyrrell?

I love Jackie Tyrrell. What a man, a lovely dresser, too. I love Ballyhale and Glenmore and Tullaroan and Piltown and ‘The Rose of Mooncoin’ and Francis McManus and KCLR and St. Kieran’s College. I love the black and amber, full stop.

Ah, now. Does the same applies to other teams?

It does. I love Limerick like the swallow loves the shortening of the days. I love Tipperary like the dew loves the dawn. I love Waterford like the river loves the sea. I love Clare like the leaf loves the sunshine. I love Westmeath like the mountain loves the valley.

And Kerry?

I love Kerry like John Montague loved Seamus Heaney. I love Meath like Seamus Heaney loved John Montague. I love Dublin like Hilary Mantell loves Thomas Cromwell. I love Tyrone like Olivia Laing loves the river Ouse. I love Mayo like Nabokov loved playing in goal. I love Liverpool like Sartre loved de Beauvoir. I love Rangers like David Attenborough loves the moth. I love England like Boris Johnson loves the sound of his own voice.

Are you finished? Can I go to the bar?

Nearly. One chapter of Amateur is called called ‘Am I Sexist?’ This from somebody who used to be a woman, mind. And he answers that question by saying: ‘The question wasn’t if I was sexist, but how.’ This got me thinking, so here’s the rest of it. I love Billy Jean King like the 60s loved Woodstock. I love Rena Buckley like the USA Women’s Soccer Team loves winning. I love the USA Women’s Soccer Team like the radio loves the sound of Míchéal Ó Muircheartaigh’s voice. I love Anne Dalton like a baby loves her mother singing. I love Coco Gauff like the tennis ball loves the centre of the racket. I don’t look down on women’s sport, I look up to it, to the will that girls and women summon from their souls to overcome patriarchal barriers, day in day out, year in year out – barriers undreamed of by their fathers and brothers.

Right, so.

Alright. Enough said.


Yes, thanks.

Do you think our back line will hold out against Reid and Co?

I don’t see why not. We have to beat the bastards, there’s no two ways around it.

What time should we hit the road on Sunday?

Half-eight? The throw in is at two, no point in rushing.

Grand, so.


Picture: Copyright Laszlo Geczo/INPHO