Belfast Telegraph

Pól Ó Muirí: How a long traffic jam can take the edge off a win

Summer time and the living is not easy due to the rising cost of petrol and food stuffs. Still, summer does bring its joys, none more so than Gaelic football and the Ulster Senior Football Championship.

Yes, here come the summer soldiers from their spring slumber heading off to support their county.

Sure what else would you do on a long Sunday afternoon if you weren't driving a couple of hours to the match, worrying about parking and trudging your way through the crowds of blocked youngsters with their bottles of WKD? It's all part of the fun.

However, it is at times like this that you realise that for all the bluff and bluster about the Republic's wonder economy, there is still plenty not done and more to do.

Take, for example, those rumours about the Republic's first-class road system and its abundant motorways.

I was in Cavan town last week for the Armagh-Cavan game in the Ulster Senior Football Championship — a game which Armagh (Come on, Armagh!) won handily enough thanks to some first-class Celtic Tiger-like performances from many of the men in Orange; and none more so than team captain, Paul McGrane.

That sinking feeling that Armagh supporters have had over the last couple of years was banished as the team ran out handy winners.

Leaving the ground with a win is always better than leaving it losing. The good humour tends to take the edge off the inevitable little delay that one suffers when more than 20,000 people try to get off the same place in one go. But Cavan — the town rather than the football team — certainly tested my patience.

After sitting in traffic for an hour and a half just trying to leave, I had well and truly debated all the nuances of the game with my lucky fellow travellers. (Did I say travellers? I meant traffic prisoners.)

An hour and a half just to get out, followed by two hours in the car after that again. Ah, old Ireland is alive and well.

It was like of those of epic journeys my family undertook going on holidays to Wicklow. Those were the days when you travelled through Dundalk (slowly); Drogheda (slowly) and Dublin (ever slower again). It usually only took one day. Usually.

It is comforting to know that something of the era before motorways can still be appreciated by younger fans.

To add insult to injury, a journalist was on the radio commentating on the " flaky" nature of many GAA fans who did not get behind their county's campaigns until they started winning. He must have been referring to southern softies.

There are no flaky fans in Ulster; the Ulster fan is made of sterner stuff; they do not fear dear tickets, winding B roads, urinating al fresco or piles from wooden benches.

No, the Ulster fan is the modern-day equivalent of C£ Chulainn at the ford, fighting back the tide of modern roads and easy access. Next stop Clones. No bother getting out of there then.

Belfast Telegraph

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