Curve Ball: How to end Dublin/Mayo Cold War
AS a life-long pacifist devoted to harmonious relations between all the myriad strands of humanity - black and white, straight and gay, Catholic and Protestant, even Monaghan and Tyrone - this column has found the past week thoroughly depressing.
We used to think Dublin and Mayo folk shared a spirit of fraternity. Knocked a bit of craic out of each other, even when their respective football teams were knocking lumps from their on-field anatomies.
Oh, for such innocent times. It even calls to mind 2006 when, as Dublin raced over the semi-final horizon, one of their devoted fans turned in the Hogan Stand to dispense a sympathetic hug to his tearful Mayo spouse.
"And for the next 20 minutes, all I saw was her backside jumping up to greet another Mayo score, and another ... "
Our couple survived that roller coaster semi-final, their bond stronger than ever. One hopes they came through last Sunday's torrid affair still intact, because the on-field digging and sledging has given way to a fresh bout of rancour off it.
Each county seems intent on labelling the other as villain of the piece. The CHC's Wednesday night decision to suspend Diarmuid Connolly has thrown petrol on the fire, as outraged Dubs rail against the inconsistency that could allow this committee clear Mayo's Kevin Keane and yet refuse to release the 'Marino One'.
This is West Side Story with a modern GAA twist; but is there a Romeo and Juliet out there who can reunite our outraged parties? Or at least restore diplomatic relations before World War III erupts at 5pm tomorrow?
There is a smidgen of hope, but it will require a genuine compromise on both sides. Curve Ball Arbitrators Anonymous have been in touch to suggest the following blueprint ...
(1) Mayo must immediately give up all the jobs it has hoarded, back to the denizens of Dublin. During the construction boom, every second builder in the capital was from somewhere between Bangor-Erris and Kiltimagh. Now that people are looking to build again, 'Mayo Mick' must make the ultimate sacrifice - in his wallet.
(2) In return, Dublin taxi drivers must undergo a vow of silence for every fare involving a green-and-red customer.
No longer will they be subjected to the following: "Where are youse from, bud? ... Mayo! Go way! What part? I betcha it's Sligo, I was there once."
(3) Once our independent inspectors have confirmed the verbal decommissioning of all taxi drivers, Mayo will agree to take back Enda Kenny and Michael Ring.
(4) In return, no Dublin-born manager will ever again ask Mayo players to push vehicles around a car-park.
(5) As a symbol of this new detente between East and West, Lee Keegan will join St Vincent's and Diarmuid Connolly will enlist with Westport during the next transfer window.
(6) And pigs will fly over the Jones's Road.