So it’s Thursday and the time is ticking remorselessly on towards the county’s All-Ireland SFC semi-final meeting with Tipperary on Sunday at Croke Park (throw-in 3.30pm). It’ll be our sixth semi-final appearance in a row while Tipp will be experiencing the rarified atmosphere of being in the last four for the first time in the modern era. It was all rather different when they last passed this way, back in 1935.
Tickets are, from what I can gather, selling well and it looks like the attendance at HQ for it will be in excess of 50,000. If that’s how it does pan out on the day, then it could even result in a bigger crowd next Sunday than the 54,277 who gathered for last weekend’s hurling semi-final between the Premier County and Galway.
This coming Sunday, though, it’s likely to be our support that’ll account for the bulk of those passing through the HQ turnstiles. Attendance levels at our matches have risen steadily round by round this summer and the word is that a big Green and Red showing will once again be on display at Croke Park this weekend.
I won’t be there among them for this one. For the second time this year (I didn’t get to Ruislip either) I’ll be missing a championship match involving us. This time it’s long-established holiday plans – for the only two-week window all summer that the whole lot of us were available to go – that have resulted in my absence on the day.
But, then again, missing All-Ireland semi-finals we’re in isn’t exactly a new experience for me. I wasn’t at the 1981, 1988, 1989, 1992 or 1993 ones, though for all of those aside from the first one I was living abroad. Sunday’s will, though, be the first I won’t have been able to get to since returning to live in Ireland twenty years ago.
I don’t, of course, have to go back that far to recall what it feels like – emotionally, as Miriam would say – to follow the action from afar on a big match day for the county. Last year we were also away on holidays when our quarter-final against Donegal was on so I remember clearly the pre-match build-up while away knowing I wouldn’t be there to see the game in the flesh. I’m back in the same territory once again, though not in the same location, twelve months on.
It’s true that nowadays it’s difficult to miss something you’re interested in even if you’re on the other side of the planet. The wonders of modern technology – iffy WiFi notwithstanding – mean that no person truly can claim to be an island, unless, I guess, they decide to leave their smartphone at home.
So although I’m away, I’m not, not really, even if the weather here is of the perfect summer variety every single day (which it is). I’ll see the game on Sunday and like last year I’ll be able to bash out a report on it afterwards. Business as usual, then, after a fashion, even if I’m reluctant enough to spend too much time on the laptop on a daily basis while over here.
Which, by the way, makes me all the more grateful to Darragh Berry for pitching in as he has done with a few well-judged pieces for the site. In my absence the last while, these guest posts have helped to keep the pot bubbling away happily. Darragh is, so he tells me, cooking up another morsel at the minute, which will be posted at some point ahead of Sunday.
And, of course, the rest of you are more than capable of keeping the lively debate continuing apace as our next do-or-die championship test approaches. Sure the place as good as runs itself nowadays, regardless of how near to or far from the action I happen to be. Long may that continue to be the case.