We gather in the usual way, a bit earlier because of the 2pm throw in. A driver, three passengers, all living in Cork city. We’ve done this many times before. Pickups, then heading for the Jack Lynch tunnel. The novelty of the Cusack Park venue rendering us a little more giddy than usual, perhaps. Good to be together, too, on a summer Sunday morning, with a purpose, a shared endeavour. We know this, we don’t take it for granted.

A Happy Sad Game in Old Alfama

I’m missing the Cork Waterford game down the Páirc. We’re abroad on holiday, in old Alfama, Lisboa. Bad planning I know – my social secretary has been sacked. Being away from games brings on that familiar vaguely guilty feeling one gets when missing an important appointment or not going to the doctor when you’ve found a lump somewhere it shouldn’t be. As if my presence among 26,500 people in PUC matters an iota to anyone (let alone Cork hurling) but myself. As if I’m letting my own down, as I have often done before. Strange and silly feelings, but there they are. I know, I know.

The Hawthorn and The Swift: You Have to Smile

It’s a summer Sunday morning and you’re on the road in South-East Limerick. From your passenger seat you watch the blossoming hawthorn ribbon the countryside. There’s a cycling charity event on the road and the going is slow, so you have time to enjoy the undulating view. Hawthorn enfolding fields all shapes and sizes – good land, middling land, fallow and scrub. Draping the livestock in the promise of a summer of plenty, a promise older even than the old promise of hurling’s plenty.

All The Old Feelings

I’m sitting in a Costa in Douglas on Sunday morning waiting for Cummins Sports to open and it hits me. The match approaches with all its baggage: anxiety, stress, the need to win, to be validated again by sport. All the old feelings. I can hardly drink my Cortado, my knee starts hopping. Fuck’s sake, calm down, it’s only the bloody first-round. The sunshine is harsh and bitter when I step outside, I forgot my sunglasses.

Cork v. Tipperary Part 1 – We keep the faith.

I wrote the piece below in early February, on the day of the first match of the year. This morning, three months later, we make our way to Thurles to do battle with our great old enemy in their lair. We’re not confident, how hard is that for a Cork person to say, but we’re not. This Tipp forward line is something else, and those Mahers… Anyhow, now it’s May, not February. It’s warm, not cold. The sod is firm, not soft. And there’s a lot more at stake. It’s championship. There will be blood.