Dublin is becoming used to the sight of thousands of Dundalkmen making the trek south to support their heroes. The only difference on Sunday was a change in location from the steps of the Special Criminal Court, where first citizen Slab Murphy is on trial for tax evasion, to the Aviva Stadium for the FAI Cup Final.
With the wind swirling and the rain hitting faces from angles even a fancy Celtic Tiger shower wouldn’t manage, supporters could be heard a-grumbling that while the Special Criminal Court was definitely biased and stacked against Slab from the off, at least it was warm.
Tantamount to the seriousness of the inclement conditions was the sight of thousands of supporters choosing to take refuge inside the stadium. This was in spite of the women’s cup final not having ended and it being impossible that all of them had a girlfriend or relative playing. But take shelter they did.
However it was a short lived and illusory boost to the women’s game as (the real) Cork City decided to warm up on the pitch during the penalty shoot-out which one of the teams undoubtedly won because all the women then left the pitch.
Those who had long before given up trying to figure out what it was they had been watching hit the bars under the stands. Those who stayed out of curiosity concluded that what they were watching must have been some sort of new gender equality thing for groundswomen or something else entirely. They then cursed having not prepared to meet the challenge of watching 90 minutes of League of Ireland football with just the right amount of alcohol to blot out the standard of ball but remember the highlights, or as it turned out, highlight.
Both sets of fans laughed heartily at the ridiculousness of their rivals’ accents and had there been any non-partisan spectators they too would have sucked in the aural tapestry like a blind man using his extra senses to appreciate classical music. By the end of the 120 minutes, the majority of the supporters would wish they had been afflicted by temporary blindness. The few die hard Scumdulkian Ultras® who’d mixed paint stripper with their Harp sat in the disabled seats, blind drunk and listening on portable radios smuggled in.
Every single politician within a voting distance of Dundalk made their presence felt by shaking hands and small talking weeks off their lives while getting their younger, more tech savvy relatives slash employees to instantly social media about it. The real serious players had already taken out ads in the Dundalk Democrat congratulating the team on their success – a ruse used to great effect in Bettystown/Laytown after a local lass won the Rose of Tralee.
The game itself was an affliction on the sport the continentals call the beautiful game. Total football got sick and might not recover. With no discernible tactics, the teams ran about in a random haze, like a man kicking a ball into a shoal of drunk fish stranded in a swimming pool.
Grown men cursed the thin end of the climate change wedge for being too cold to let them sleep through the sporting abomination. The game kicked and rushed its way into extra time but by then 25,103 souls had lost something bigger than themselves.
Dundalk did it. Someone in a funny accent said they’d won the double. All they need now is for Slab to get off on the tax evasion and that’s the treble.