Sunday, June 19, 2005

Summer Sunday - it can only mean GAA

IT'S a summer Sunday in Dublin and that can only mean the usual build-up of GAA traffic on my road, mighty craic altogether.

For those visitors who don’t know what the GAA is it is an amateur sporting organisation founded to preserve Irish sports, such as hurling and football (not soccer). The games date back hundreds and hundreds of years, while hurling predates Christianity in Ireland.


Everyone should see a hurling match at least once in their lives, even the last five minutes alone which can be the most exciting, fast and furious when absolutely anything can happen.


But anyway back to why I am writing this piece. I live on one of the many routes to Croke Park where all the big matches and finals, etc are played and each Sunday for a couple of hours, the roads around my area are packed with slow moving vehicles. The current traffic jam started around about two and a half hours ago with no signs of stopping in the near future. Well not until the main matches start in Croker anyway.

But people don’t mind, it’s a lovely day, the traffic is moving (albeit slowly), the car stereos are on, elbows are out the window with the odd spot of friendly interaction with other supporters in other cars, as well as banter with supporters of the other team.



All the occupants in the cars, vans and minibuses are wearing their county colours, so far today I have seen Laois, Dublin and Kildare shirts, flags and those silly plaited wool thingies, haven’t a clue what you’d call them.


There is always a steady hum of conversations, shouting and laughing drifting up to my window, the occasional pop song and an hour ago the beeping of car horns, which can only mean one thing, one of the teams playing today is driving in their bus down the road.

The night before a match, the team will stay in a hotel close to Croker and then they will be bused in under Garda escort sometime before the match. And you can feel the excitement in the air as people realise the bus is coming up beside them, hence the shouting and horn blowing.

The players are all heroes and stars in their home county, as well they should be. Playing hurling or football for your county is an honour and is treated as such by most. Many will hold down full time jobs and will train so many times a week, probably for a club as well as their county team.

While the traffic makes it way down, those who have decided to park up all make the final leg of their journey with a half hour-ish walk to Croke Park. You’ll see families, fathers holding the hands of their youngsters, young lovers (both clad in their county colours), gangs of lads, gangs of girls, gangs, everyone loves to see their county play. You’ll also see families sitting on foldaway chairs eating a picnic out of the boot of their car before setting off to the park.


Then the road goes quiet again, the traffic returns to normal and cars are parked everywhere. Sometimes the clampers have a field day and other times they obviously decide to leave it alone for now anyway.



I wouldn't park there like that if I were you...

Later this afternoon, the calm will be broken by the deluges of people walking back to their cars. This starts with a few stragglers of people from the losing team who have had enough of seeing their team fare badly or those who want to hit the road before the traffic gets bad.

The stragglers become a steady stream of people walking back up the road, some cheering and laughing, others depressed and not to mention the knackered children being dragged with the lucky younger ones riding their shoulders of one of the adults.

Many people also stay to have a few drinks in one of the many pubs in the wider area surrounding Croker. By 8pm tonight they will be in some state…

To find out more about the GAA and the sports mentioned, go to

1 comment:

JL Pagano said...

Brilliant post and cool blog!

Just one thing though ... after all that build up, all that hype and ALL THAT MONEY, if the teams finish level on points after 70 minutes, even though there are several exciting ways of settling the contest on the day, the GAA determine that it was all for nought and everyone has to shell out more money next week and go through it all again.

That, IMHO, is a disgrace.