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Sideline Cut: Ciaran Murphy's pitchside perspective

This weekend saw Murph front row centre at a wedding rather than in the best seat in the house at Croker.

Image: INPHO/James Crombie

I’M SURE YOU, like all other balanced members of society, feel that there is still a place in the world for Aertel, now cruelly marginalized by such passing fads as the internet, and smart-phones.

What I would have given for those reassuringly minimalist score updates, refreshed every half-hour or so, on Saturday evening.  If it was a normal weekend I would have been in Mullingar for Newstalk’s coverage of Westmeath and Galway in the Leinster hurling quarter-final, but was instead at a wedding down the country and was trying to get information where I could on Galway’s magisterial march to the semi-final against Dublin.

Only that was not what was unfolding while I was tucking into my spuds – quite the opposite in fact.

For Aertel in the 1990s, read Twitter today.  And while Twitter doubtless has its advantages, trying to figure out what a one-word tweet that reads simply “Jaysus” means, can be difficult.

The message finally got across that Galway were struggling, and struggling badly, but they got the job done in the end.  It’s to Westmeath’s credit of course that they stuck with Galway for so long, but you won’t find many people that are confident now of Galway’s ability to turn over Dublin in the second of the Leinster hurling semi-finals in 2 weeks time.

The potential pit-falls of Twitter were being discussed on this week’s edition of the Sunday Game of course, MJ Tierney having announced his disillusionment with being dropped from the Laois team to the world.  We may recall that the GAA released a series of guidelines on the correct usage of Twitter and Facebook, with the whole sorry farrago reminding me of nothing more than your uncle of advanced years expressing his bewilderment at “the hip-hop music.”

I won’t linger long on this but if the players aren’t being paid to play, then they can say whatever the hell they like on Twitter.  Case closed.  If MJ Tierney, or Dick Clerkin, or anyone else appears in front of the CCCC over something said on Twitter, then I think we can all say goodnight.

‘Thank God for the rain to wash the trash off the sidewalk’

I was never going to make it back to Croke Park in time for Sunday’s mouth-watering double-header, which was a real pity because being in Croker on these big days is massive fun.  Working there last week for the Dublin-Offaly game was such a thrill, and we’ll be back there throughout the summer for plenty of games, including the Leinster finals in hurling and football.

You never like missing an opportunity to be there on a big championship day, and indeed when I first moved up to Dublin I was seldom out of the place.  As I recall, in 2005 I went to the two Leinster finals, every All-Ireland quarter-final in football and hurling, both semi-finals, in both sports, and the two All-Ireland finals as well.

I was living in Drumcondra at the time, and obviously wasn’t exactly over-loaded with work either, but it was great. I went with quite a variety of people too – there was a Protestant girl from Tyrone whose only previous experience of big-time sporting events was in Windsor Park (suffice to say she was a little taken aback), there was an entourage of Murphys for Galway-Cork in the All-Ireland football quarter-final that year (we looked like the Waltons, this vast unending line of Murphs and significant others), and there was also, bizarrely, Paul Schrader, the tortured genius who wrote Taxi Driver, sitting beside me for the Leinster hurling final that year.

Schrader was over in Ireland for the Galway Film Fleadh that year, and my brother was friendly with a few of the organizers.  They asked him if I could source a few tickets, and I was happy to oblige.  He was very shy, very polite and asked a few questions of Ger Gilroy and I, who of course took the next two seats beside him.

If I’m being honest, the abiding memory of that day was actually a point scored by Wexford centre-forward Eoin Quigley, who doubled on a Damien Fitzhenry puck-out about 45 metres from the Kilkenny goal and scored one of the most wondrous points I’d ever seen.  I don’t know if the man who famously slept with a gun under his pillow for years remembers it quite so vividly, but it was certainly one of the stranger days I’ve had in Croker.

Next week – the hilarious tale of how I came to watch a dour nine-all draw in the preliminary round of the Ulster championship with Steve Guttenberg and the entire cast of Three Men and a Little Lady!  No, not really…

  • This week Murph was – sent this link by 3 different people, for no apparent reason.  So I’m obliged to pass it onto you, with no further comment.

Ciaran Murphy is producer of Off The Ball sports show on Newstalk 106 and pitchside reporter for the station’s live GAA coverage this season.

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