From Nerney to Croke Park
A BIT like Mayo, we took the scenic route.
The journey began as early as Wednesday last. Admittedly, that’s not the type of head start even the hardy old souls who used to cycle to games years ago needed. But we’d a fair few boxes to tick before we got to Drumcondra.
First was Dingle, Co Kerry for a wedding last Thursday. We arrived on Wednesday evening just as radio reports were telling drivers to avoid Dingle town centre as a truck driver had crashed into a shop front.
It did not take us long upon arrival to get eyewitness accounts. The driver’s brakes had failed going down a steep street and he had avoided catastrophe by using a couple of parked cars – with 131 and 141 licence plates – to slow him down. It was, we were told, ‘a miracle’ no one was seriously injured.
We went for a pint in the famous Paddy Bawn Brosnan’s, a pub once owned by the late and legendary Kerry footballer. There the GAA aficionados told us they’d have no problem with Galway, but Mayo would be another matter. Obviously they had not reckoned on Cork almost spoiling that party.
A bit like the truck driver, our day on Thursday went downhill rapidly. A poorly-timed bit of food poisoning put a halt to my gallop mid-flight in the wedding. I can already hear the smart alecs lining up to ask which one of the pints I was drinking did I think was the bad one. Regardless of the cause (still unknown, but fodder and not porter – I swear), the effect made me a fitness doubt for the big weekend.
The weekend, you see, consisted of more than just Croker. Another smart alec had decided to arrange a stag party at the Castlepalooza music festival at Charleville Castle in Tullamore.
So camping in non-stop rain is what awaited us on Friday and Saturday. We were never happier to see Croke Park come Sunday morning.
The only planned respite on the Saturday was a trip into the Copper Pot Still in Tullamore to watch the All-Ireland Qualifiers. But little did we know the direction the night was about to take.
Before we knew it we were herded into a minibus and taken on an impromptu tour of the by-roads of Offaly and Westmeath until we ended up at our destination – Declan Nerney Live, in a country venue (on every level) outside Moate.
We got to hear more music there than at the festival we were supposed to be at. It was an experience and a half for us. And I think that went both ways for the rest of the patrons, most of whom were our parents’ age and older. Most of us arrived in our camping gear which, for the weekend that was in it, included wellies and shorts. Keep her country, indeed!
That night we opted for the warmer and drier confines of our pilot’s car, over the tent, and come Sunday morning it was definitely time to ’stop the world and let me off’. We think we’ll go back to day-tripping for the semi-final.