Going incognito in the Kingdom

This’ll give you a laugh: Mrs WJ and I are off down to Kerry this afternoon, where tomorrow we’re attending the wedding of a good friend. The groom is a Mayoman and we’ve experienced more than our fair share of ups and downs following the county team together over the years, so much so that we now have the same kind of ground-down teeth.

When I got the wedding invite last month – having just got back to the country with less than 24 hours to spare ahead of the Connacht final – I have to admit that my first reaction was one of horror. A weekend in August? The same weekend as the All-Ireland quarter-finals? How come the Bible (aka the GAA’s Master Fixture list) hadn’t been consulted?

However, Galway and Tyrone have since come to the rescue, freeing up the weekend for non-footballing activities (and, with the chisellers packed off to their auntie’s for the weekend, a few Pimm’s might be in order, I reckon). In one sense, it’s just as well we’re not playing again this weekend because throw-in at the cathedral down south is at 2pm tomorrow with Galway taking on Kerry two hours later in that other cathedral up here. Being marooned down there – with all those Kerrymen who couldn’t be arsed turning up for a quarter-final – while we were playing in Croker would have made it a difficult afternoon but our championship exit last Saturday has dealt effectively with all potential scheduling problems.

That only leaves the table talk about football with the Kerrymen to skirt around. The thought of several hours of all that soft, self-deprecating, sing-song blather that they think the rest of us can’t see through – you know the stuff about them only being focused on the match that lies ahead and why it’s far too early to talk about the three-in-a-row and so forth – is enough to make me want to drink myself into a state of insensibility (which I suppose I’ll be doing in any case seeing as it’s a wedding). Oh Christ, I’ll probably have to sympathise with them as well about the Paul Gal-a-vin (as he appears to be known down dere) affair. And, of course, I’ll have to remember not to mention Seamus Darby …

No, it won’t work – I need an alternative approach, one that gets me off the hook completely. Two possible alternatives spring to mind. One involves a regurgitation of that book that reckons all sport is a load of shite but it’s a book that (a) I haven’t bought yet and (b) even if I had, I wouldn’t have time at this stage to read it before alighting in the Kingdom a few hours hence (not least because I’m that one doing the driving). That just leaves the hurling option, which goes something like this: “Football, did you say? No, no, we don’t play that stuff in our part of the county. No, no, I’m from staunch hurling territory, wouldn’t recognise one of those big balls if it jumped up and hit me in the face. Yeah that’s right, and of course we beat your lads in the Christy Ring this year … “

P.S. Good luck to the minors who take on Monaghan in the All-Ireland quarter-finals in Longford tomorrow afternoon (throw-in is at 2pm in Pearse Park). Back after the weekend to discuss this and all the other non-Mayo action.

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