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Never-ending county season encroaches on club carnival

By Declan Bogue

There are certain questions that the general public - poor souls - like to ask GAA journalists at this time of the year. 'Is that you finished for the year?' is a particular favourite, as if we all repair to our continental homes and await news of a Dr McKenna Cup launch, or, in the case of the truly poverty-stricken, the O'Fiaich Cup.

No. No, we are not finished for the year. In fact, things get harder and busier. The media launches slow down and less things fall into your lap. Before you know it, you are copying and pasting your annual email to county secretaries, begging them for a copy of their annual report so you can comb through it for whatever hook or whiff of controversy.

Entirely undignified but, hey, there are consolations.

For me, autumn is the highlight of the year. Two solid months of schlepping down to Croke Park can make a man pine for something a bit more earthy. Less corporate. You are thrust straight into it, going skin to skin with the grassroots spectacles of county finals where every week is the culmination of some fairytale or other.

Before you know it, it's into the hardy perennial of the Ulster club Championships, queuing up for tea at the stalls beside a jolly woman from Coalisland talking of getting home, fire on and a cup of tea while they flick between Strictly Come Dancing and X-Factor.

But hark! What is that from over yonder?

It's only the All-Ireland Championships, being an obnoxious friend of a friend that you would dearly love to kick out of this house party.

Didn't Dublin just win the All-Ireland?

Choosing the middle of October as an appropriate time to make the pairings for the 2017 provincial and All-Ireland Championships is another wet fish slapped across the face of the club carnival. At least wait until the provincial championships are over. Where's your manners?

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