“What time is the Dublin match on at?” The woman behind me in the queue to pay at the petrol station across from Meagher’s pub in Fairview early yesterday afternoon appeared to be in earnest but she was obviously a bit flustered when I told her that the Dubs hadn’t any team in action in the camogie finals being played at HQ. Then the lights came on: it was the footballers she was thinking of and we had a bit of a laugh about how much more crowded the locality would be around that time seven days hence.
It’ll be fairly full-on around these parts next Sunday, for sure, but with less than a week to go until the ball is thrown in at Croke Park, it’s easy to forget that, for the first time in sixteen years, Dublin are back in the decider. There are a few flags hanging out of windows (one of them is from ours – the small lad is well up for it), there’s a bit of bunting here and there but there’s no sign as yet of any sheep getting painted. There’s sure to be a bit more razzmatazz over the coming days but, to be honest, I can’t see the hype machine getting out of second gear this side of Sunday.
Most of the Dublin lads that I’ve spoken with aren’t expressing too much confidence about their team’s chances on Sunday. Like the rest of us, they’ve seen how Kerry operate and the way they peak at this time every year. They know that their own team has improved year-on-year under Pat Gilroy but that, man-for-man, Kerry look to have the edge on them. This isn’t Kerry-style cute hoorism or newly-minted Metropolitan self-deprecation: it’s just a case of telling it like it is.
And there’s no talk either amongst the Dublin fraternity of the fabled Kerry-Dublin ‘rivalry’. “We’ve only ever beaten them in 1934, 1976 and 1977” snorted an acquaintance down at the club on Saturday. “What sort of rivalry is that?” That’s about the size of it, for sure, though I can’t see those chilling statistics saving us from plenty of ould guff about it in the media over the coming days.
All the talk around here for now is, as you can imagine, about tickets. Although they’re not overly optimistic about their chances of landing what would be their 23rd All-Ireland senior title next weekend, it seems that everyone up here would like to be there to see the spectacle for themselves. Just in case, like.
We’ll be watching the action from the comfort of the couch ourselves on Sunday though I’d say we’ll be taking a run out down towards Ballybough beforehand to catch a bit of the atmosphere. If that lady I met yesterday is down getting petrol again next Sunday she won’t be in any doubt then that the Dubs are playing that day. She might still need reminding, though, that the throw-in for senior final is scheduled for 3.30pm.