Posts Tagged ‘ GAA ’

Springsteen Set For Croke Park

Bruce-Springsteen

As an avid Bruce Springsteen fan and as the proud owner of an unused Garth Brooks ticket it’s hard to respond to this news with anything but at least mild trepidation; but all signs indicate that Bruce Springsteen is set to play two nights in Croke Park this coming summer. Continue reading

Why Strength And Conditioning Matters

ABC 11 (4)

Hi my name is Noel Flynn and I am a Strength and Conditioning Coach. What is that you may ask? It sounds like something to do with bodybuilding right? Wrong! So before I explain a bit about what Strength and Conditioning is or S&C like it is becoming known for short, I will give a bit of detail about WHY I got into the field of S&C. I have always been sports mad. I played soccer for Hillcrest, ran with Lucan Harriers, swam in Stewarts and played hurling with Lucan Sarsfields but my main sport to this day is Gaelic Football which I continue to play at Intermediate Level with Lucan Sarsfields. So sport has always been a huge influence in the life of myself and my family. As a kid I was playing or competing in some sport pretty much every single day. Sport was the be all and end all really and I gave huge commitment to it, especially the Gaelic and gradually the other sports fell by the wayside. I really recommend kids trying a number of sports as there is something to be gained from all of them but that topic is for another day. Continue reading

“HATS, FLAGS And HEADBANDS?!”: Croke Park’s Casual Traders

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Derek Byrne: ”I’d be for the Dubs, d’you know what I mean?” (image: Robert Holmes)

 

The cry is as much a part of the GAA match experience as the rusty turnstile, the over-priced match programme and Mayo being spooked near the final hurdle. I decided to approach a “casual trader”, or “hawker”, as they’re universally known, and see what it’s like to be the one calling out that immortal phrase.

At first, Derek Byrne looks perplexed as to why anyone would want to ask him any questions other than, perhaps: “how much is that Monaghan flag?”. Nevertheless, he tolerates my presence with unfailing politeness, as himself and his sales assistant go about packing up. A job, I see, which involves the filing away of county colours with no little amount of military precision.

I begin with a variant of the “do you come here often?” line.

“30 years here”, he tells me.

What got him into it?

“I was unemployed and gave it a go and I’m still at it.”

Derek is from Pearse Street originally but lives in Ballybough and prefers the Dublin hurlers to the footballers. I admire his good taste. I ask him does he mind missing being at the football matches, in this era of Dublin success?

Not really, as it happens.

”I’d be for the Dubs, d’you know what I mean? But, I’d rather the hurling than the football.”

I had looked up the rates for casual trader licenses on the Dublin Council website and tentatively asked Derek if he has one. “Oh yeah, absolutely, I’m working right now. It’s €38 for Croke Park days.”

If you want to make a living as a casual trader it seems you have to put the hours in.

“You have to be pro-active now”, Derek tells me. “Years ago there was a handful of us doing it and now there’s hundreds out”. Derek says he’ll be out two hours before the first match of the day, every time. Seeing the array of goods he has on offer, I’m not surprised.

I ask him if he just does Croke Park and he scoffs and tells me he’ll be anywhere else hosting a big event, all year round. “The o2 (the new 3Arena) is €25 and I’ll be there every time”.

Casual traders selling hats, flags and headbands (with a nod to the enterprising ladies who sold 3 chocolate bars for a pound, out of a pram) have been around since the 1960’s. Before that, I’m told that it was customary for men to pin pennants featuring the stars of the day to the lapels of their suit jackets.

I ask the oldest person I have to hand, (my father, 60), what he remembers them selling: “Rosettes, paper hats and miniature dolls to wear on one’s chest”, he tells me.

“When it rained, the dye in the paper hats ran down your face”, leading, he says, to many a person in the stadium sitting or standing with what looked like a county colours face-painting job gone wrong.

I quickly see how the hats (cotton/cowboy), flags and headbands took over.

Whilst they need not diversify much, competition appears to have made the business even harder.

“You have your good days and your bad days”. Derek says,

Dubs matches, I enquire, must be the best days?

Derek is quick to reply: “No. You’d be surprised. Dubs in an All-Ireland final, maybe. But what you want is a team that doesn’t get to Croke Park often, a team that hasn’t been up here in years. They buy the most souvenirs.”

I chance my arm and ask him who his best ever customers were. For a moment, he stares off into the distance, a grin grows on his face, and, eventually, he replies: “Donegal, 1992”.

Yeah?

“Yeah. I went up on the Saturday, the day before the final and I cleaned up.”

That heart-warming story aside, he has nothing but scorn for the “drunk northerners” who booze all the way down on the coach and then interfere with his stall when they get off the bus.

“Messy f**kers”, he says.

To round off, I ask him will he be at the Limerick-Kilkenny Hurling semi-final the next day.

Almost before I finish the question he replies:

“Oh, rain, hail or snow. Rain, hail or snow.”

I was at that game myself and we had both rain and hail. Sure enough, there he was, plastic covers shielding his wares and extolling the virtues of a Limerick flag to a potential customer as I walked by.

Follow the writer at @RobHolmes1982

GAA: Kerry Are Crowned 2014 All-Ireland Champions

the-sam-maguire-trophy-is-raised-2-390x285All-Ireland Senior Football Final

Kerry 2-9 Donegal 0-12

This was definitely not a classic All-Ireland final as it lacked the usual intensity, but Kerry came out on top in this dour battle with two key goals from Paul Geaney and Kieran Donaghy giving them victory.

The Kingdom started at a blistering pace with Geaney catching a high ball close to goal and finishing his beautiful low shot to the far corner of the Donegal net to give them a crucial early lead. Geaney was the key figure in the first half with two further points which kept them in front. Michael Murphy added some points to help Donegal back into the game and later levelled matters with a point from Karl Lacey. Donegal recovered from that early goal in the first half with some good points.

Kerry’s defence was benefitted by bringing back a sweeper to help protect the area in front of goal near the 21 metre line. This helped prevent any Donegal players tearing down the middle of their defence which had been a weak point for Kerry all year. The down side to this was that Kerry were conceding possession as the Donegal kick-out’s were going short. The second half seemed to be turning in Donegal’s favour with Michael Murphy putting the Ulster Champions ahead with his first point of the second half. Kerry responded with a point from Paul Murphy to level matters.

The game went into a bit of a lull after this as neither side scored for a long period of time and things got very quiet. Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durkin tried to pick out a fellow defender but he realised he had gifted Kieran Donaghy possession right in front of goal enabling Donaghy to bag a crucial goal. Durkin will certainly have nightmares about that for a long time. Donegal tried to recover with points from Paddy McBrearty and Neil McGee, but Kerry seemed to answer everything they had towards the end of the game. Donegal tried frantically towards the end to get an equaliser but their best efforts only managed to come off the outside of the near post as Kerry held out winners by 2-9 to 0-12.

All-Ireland Minor Football Final

Kerry 0-17 Donegal 1-10

Kerry started the better of the two sides in this minor game in Croke Park with Killian Spillane being the prominent forward for the Kerry youngster’s. The first half started brighter for the Kingdom with points from Spillane and Michael Burns giving them a comfortable lead. Stephen McBrearty was doing well as he kept his side in touch with two good first half points to keep Donegal within touching distance of the Kingdom.

The Kingdom stepped up a gear in the start of the second half with a flurry of points, which included a superb score from Liam Carey, giving them real breathing space as they opened a significant lead. Donegal seemed to be dead and buried at this point in the game, but a superb goal from Jamie Brennan from Bundoran brought renewed hope that Donegal might fight back. Donegal did get some points after this goal, but Kerry ensured victory with some late points to run out comfortable winners by 0-17 to 1-10.

All-Ireland Final: Sam Set To Return To The Hills

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All-Ireland Senior Football Final

Kerry v Donegal

Donegal have been a dominant force in Ulster in the last few years are aiming for their second title in three years, while Kerry hope to end a five year spell without claiming Sam Maguire. Kerry with their history of success in the championship means they are a hard side to write off, but Donegal’s impressive display against Dublin and other teams during the championship certainly gives them the favourites tag.

Looking at both teams in depth, we’ll start with the defence of both sides. Donegal’s defence has been fairly rock solid all year as they have limited the score ability of the opposition with their tight knit defence. Kerry on the other hand have been quite poor in defence so far this season conceding some easy goals from players making long direct runs towards goal. Kerry will need to improve immensely and can’t afford to concede these goals in the final. Donegal have been impressive so far and their defence has been quite impressive with the McGee brothers Eamon and Niall from Gweedore being key players in their defence. Continue reading

News In Brief: Point Renamed Again As Crow Reigns Terror On Louth

Caw Caw! (image: imperialmocha.deviantart.com)

Caw Caw! (image: imperialmocha.deviantart.com)

Another week, another cacophony of news -“Caw-caw” being the operative sound. Remember those sinister seagulls a few weeks ago? Ruining the height of summer with their antisocial behaviour? It’s not over yet, the birds are back.

There’s a crazy crow on the loose in Louth. Apparently, unlike the gulls this crow is a lone operator picking on dogs and the vulnerable as well as annoying everyone by pecking at kitchen windows. Perhaps we should give the fowl a minute, he might be trying to tell us something! Continue reading

GAA: Final Four Aim For All Ireland Glory

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All-Ireland Football Semi-Final

Donegal v Dublin

This will be another rip roaring game of football, but tactics and how these sides approach the game will determine the flow as Donegal are designed to pounce on the opposition mistakes. Monaghan did this well for the opening quarter of their encounter with Dublin before fatigue and other factors allowed Dublin to breach the Monaghan defence and it started raining scores for the Dubs in Croke Park. This will certainly not happen this weekend. Donegal will go out to impose themselves physically and mentally in this game as Armagh did to Cavan earlier in the Championship.

The defence for both sides will be a key area Firstly looking at the Dubs, they will use their backline as their platform for their attack as they can’t afford to kick the ball long down field as Donegal will shut down that avenue very quickly, it may take a very long time for Dublin to breach the Donegal rearguard, but they will get chances. Monaghan’s defence held out for 25 Minutes, Donegal could well hold out for about 60 Minutes, but putting a figure on it, is very hard. Donegal will play ultra-defensively but they will need to push up on the Dublin kickouts, a thing that Laois did well against them in the Leinster Championship. They can’t afford to gift Dublin possession; otherwise it will be a matter of how long before Dublin breach through their defence. Stephen Cluxton’s kickouts could be a good indicator of whether Donegal are going to throw caution to the wind or set-up a real tough blanket defence. Donegal need to push up on Dublin, a thing Mayo (the last team to beat the Dubs in Croke Park) have been quite good at recent years. Continue reading