As well as all those other traditional delights on Paddy’s Day, like getting your nuts half frozen off you at the Parade and engaging in that quaint ‘drowning the shamrock’ ritual, it’s also the day on which the All-Ireland club final take place at Croke Park. This year, our local club here in dis part of de Northside – St Vincent’s of Marino – are in the final seeking a second national title to add to the one that they claimed in 1976. The years since have been comparatively lean for a club that used to dominate the club scene in these parts. But now they’re back and, having at last, for the first time since 1984, regained the Dublin title in the back-end of 2007, they now find themselves heading to Croker for a tilt at a second national crown. Their opponents on Monday are seven-times champions Nemo Rangers from Cork but having deposed reigning All-Ireland kingpins Crossmaglen at the penultimate stage, hopes are high that they can go all the way.
There’s a bit of Mayo interest in the day too, what with the involvement of Kilmaine duo Pat Kelly and Brian Maloney in the side. Kelly kept them in it in the Leinster championship with a late, late equaliser against Meath champions Seneschalstown, while Maloney did his bit for a place in club folklore in that All-Ireland semi against Crossmaglen, when he crashed home an early goal to set the Vins on their way. The Mayo Advertiser has a piece about Brian and his involvement with the club, which is worth a look.
I think Monday could be a bit of crack, especially if the local lads win. Before the game, they’ll be doing some family-friendly stuff – such a face-painting and the like – up at the clubhouse and then the plan is for a mass blue and white migration down the road to HQ. (It’s not far – that church you can see on the horizon if you gaze northwards from the upper decks in Croker is St Vincent de Paul on Griffith Avenue: the club pitch is only a stone’s throw from there). My Vineens have expressed a keen interest in the pre-match carry-on but the walk from there to Croker might be a stretch for those small legs so I can imagine having to become a beast of burden at some point along the route. Still, it’ll be worth it if they win.