Christ, you should have seen us – the two of us ‘squez’ into a ‘rickshaw’, careering along, weaving in and out of traffic, passing cars, busses, pedestrians and non-too pleased taxi drivers, leaving all in our wake. And all around us throngs of people, hundreds, if not thousands, ambling nonchalantly along towards their myriad destinations. Where are we? Shanghai? Hong Kong? Bangkok? Bangkok my butt! We are in the heartland of Dublin. The heartland of hurling - a sliotar’s throw from Croke Park where thirty minutes ago 80,016 people avidly watched a sliotar being ‘batted’ about by fifteen stalwarts from Kilkenny and Tipp. And we all know how that ended. Which I won’t get into. Yet.
What I will get into is how we, Jimmy and myself, got into a ‘rickshaw’, a two-wheeled, hooded vehicle that was pedal-powered as opposed to the traditional, hand-drawn one. Anyway, between Jimmy’s bad knee and my bad hip we needed a taxi. And needless to say as 82,016 people emptied out of Croke Park, taxis were in scant supply. And as we legged it along, it was definitely a case of the lame leading the lame, or rather the lame (me) leading the lamer (Jim, who was that bit more ‘bacach’ than me) We almost shared a taxi with country & western singer Jimmy Buckley who was more than willing to share but the taxi driver didn’t like the look of us, I guess, and we were left to our limping once again.
And then, out of sheer frustration, and exhaustion, we flagged down a youngster (Indian, I’d guess) pedalling along on his ‘rickshaw’. Actually it was Jimmy who flagged him down and suggested we hop in, the thinking being that ‘half a loaf is better than no bread’ or a ‘rickshaw is better than no taxi’. And in we hopped. Hopped! In we laboriously clambered. And away we went. Like the hammers of hell. This youngster (and God be good to his youth and strength) fairly motored past cars, busses, taxis and pedestrians. And when he could pass no more he veered off the street on to the canal bank which was fairly choc-a-bloc with pedestrians and careered in and out of those, frightening the bejaysus out of Jimmy and myself who now looked like two cats who hadn’t got the cream but who were fit to scream as we felt sure we’d keel over into the canal. We didn’t. By the grace of God or maybe Vishnu.
Our next form of transport was a step up from a rickshaw and we were home in jig time. I was in no mood, however, for a jig or ‘jigs & reels’ in any shape, make or form. In short – I wasn’t in the mood for going out to ‘drown my sorrows’ or indulge in passionate post-mortems or analyses. All Ireland Hurling Final 2016 was done and dusted for me. Park it. Move on. Don’t understand how anyone could torture themselves again (as in watching the Sunday Game) but then it’s ‘horses for courses’, even if it’s hurling. Instead I watched some Scandinavian movie on the telly – dark and brooding for sure but at least there was no blue & gold in sight. And I have to say that I was somewhat taken aback by the ebullient, jubilant rejoicing of the Tipp supporters. But then, it has been six years and, in fairness, we have been spoiled. I have often come out of Croke Park feeling a lot more dejected and depressed and in need of immediate therapy (i.e. a few scoops of Smithwicks) than I did this year. And although the presence of Liam MacCarthy next door will shorten the winter for the Tipp faithful we, in Kilkenny, have wonderful and marvellous memories to shorten many a winter to come. Kilkenny hurlers, Brian Cody & Co., mile, mile buíochas.
P.S. Jimmy and myself didn’t leave Croke Park empty handed. Jimmy, God bless him, had the prescience to place a few bob on Kevin Kelly (at 10 to 1) to score the first goal. Jaysus, if we had won the match we’d have taken the ‘rickshaw’ home!