Biting back: Fear factor is gone from GAA in Ulster
There once was a time when southern GAA teams coming north for games would treat the six counties of Northern Ireland as a serious threat to their safety. Perhaps they might even have been right.
Whenever Kerry came to play the likes of Tyrone, Armagh and Derry, they would pull up their wagons in Monaghan town and rest their weary heads on a Saturday night before continuing their journey the following day.
And yet, when they wished to top up their fund for lavish team holidays in the ’70s to the US, South Africa and Australia, they found counties in the north to be the biggest contributors to their coffers, coming out in force to see the likes of Eoin ‘Bomber’ Liston, Mike Sheehy and the Spillane brothers in the flesh.
So how refreshing it is now to see the GAA schedule a couple of qualifiers for this Sunday, the 12th of July.
There was a time that to play Gaelic games on that famous date could cause a sense of unease.
The parades are taking place on the 13th this year, so while for instance the county GAA supporters congregate in Brewster Park, Orangemen will be preparing to march the next day a few miles up the road in Kesh.
Thankfully now, there is more a feeling of live and let live. As Jarlath Burns said on these pages last week, there is nothing to fear and no grounds for mistrust between anyone in this corner of the world. Rightly so.