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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 18 February, 2019
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Between hackers and hoggers, life in the AUL

Paul Ring endures the enforced winter break as the weather claims yet more games for Ireland’s Sunday league footballers.

Image: Benno Hansen via Flickr via Creative Commons

IT WON’T COME as a great shock to you that the match was called off again this week.

As the early flecks of snow rested across all those cars, the child inside beamed at the thought of pelting anything that moved with snowballs.

But as the snow quickly turned into an enveloping blanket, smothering car wipers beneath like a well-drilled Mourinho side, I began to fear the worst for Saturday’s clash.

Could we not use an orange ball? Could the pitch not be cleared? Do we have under-soil heating?

Laugh as you may but we do seem to have everything else thanks to the Trojan efforts of a committed few. It has gotten to the stage where I expect the “Please keep off the pitch” sign to be in several languages in the coming years.

We are blessed, I am so often reminded by the grizzled ‘oul warriors that paved the way. I can recall their rocking stories of fist fights, last-minute headers and conquering the divisions. All on a cows’ patch while we grumble if the showers aren’t warm enough.

My earliest sporting memory is going to a game with my old man on some forgotten field in the city. I approached the centre-circle with him and remember him slamming his studs into the ground and the specks of frost that leapt from it.

The grown-ups talked and the match was off. I couldn’t understand it and no amount of orange and taytos helped me to either.

As we grow, we learn. Like no other sport in this country, amateur soccer is in the lap of the weather gods. There is no ambling of a tri-colour here with embankments full on a June evening. The winter scourge lends to a May surge where three games can come in a single week to decide a season.

That is the way it is and it is how it should remain.

I thought of this heading home on Friday night. There was a particularly icy patch at the turn as the GAA pitch loomed into view. It has all the time in the world. Smiling at the snow.

Buttevant GAA achieved something huge this year. Our Junior hurlers captured our first-ever North Cork title. In the midst of the endless bunting and signs I took pride in one. Best wishes from the soccer club.

You may say why shouldn’t there be? But there was a time when the relationship between our national game and the international one was not so harmonious.

We should not take for granted how lads cross the divide. Even if May usually signals the swapping of step-overs for solos.

The snowmen are beginning to slump outside. Soon the thaw will come and hopefully stay and we can return to our simple joy. It is the Christmas break now however. No match until the new year. We lie second, two points off with a game in hand. A trophy within reach.

Sometimes though, when say, you are throwing snowballs you are just grateful that you can play. Be it in December or in May.

Paul Ring blogs at A View. Read his previous installments here.

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