Friday 18 January 2019

Eoghan Corry: Fair play to GAA and Jedward for helping us forget our woes

PARTY: The punters went home happy, their heads filled with memories

THE GAA does good parties. On Saturday night 35,028 people and two Grimes twins, who might otherwise have been starring for Lucan Sarsfields Under-21s, joined in one.

There are three more nights like this to come for the families enticed to the north inner city by ticket packages of incredible value with €30 buying a full day out for a family of four.

On Saturday night two All Ireland champions came to start the party, their first time ever on a competitive double bill (they have previously played at park openings like Pearse Park in Galway in 2003), but that wasn't really the point.

The point was proven that people in 2011 will come to a good show.

Sport does that.

It is still the place to come together to watch an event, congregate, applaud, share, and go home with that warm feeling of having participated in a social occasion.

Reality television doesn't come close to this.

This is real-time drama writ large, no script, no choreography, no amateur theatrics, no director's cuts.

Goals and points and tackles and blocks, four nights of it for a tenner if you are an accompanied child.


The idea isn't new. Circuses, even more than bread, won elections in the old days. The oldest surviving building in Rome is a stadium.

The Dub footballers, like U2, are in the stadium concert business. The hurlers were the warm-up act.

The crowd was ramped up for the big heroic welcome for the star attraction.

A few timely goals provided the grace notes.

Crowds in Croker have been bigger, even for league matches. They have scarcely been noisier.

Tickets, which cannot be had for a championship encounter with Armagh or Tyrone, are available for the springtime party.

The punters went home happy, small children being carried sleeping in their dad's arms, their heads and memories filled with the glamour of those blue shirted heroes leaping for balls under the dazzling floodlights.

Recession? It didn't get in.

The GAA has seen many recessions.

It was born in one and sustained rural Ireland through more than half a dozen of them.

It understands that sport heals when people are hurting. It can provide an escape from the collapsing world around. In the midst of the grey days, on Saturday night the stadium was sparkling with blue.

Sports bodies were slow to see that they are in the entertainment rather as well the recreational business, that their opposition was not each other, it was the cinema and the superpub and the remote-control device.

Coaxing people away from the couch in February is not as easy as it used to be in grandfather's time.

The product, grandfather would concur, didn't need fixing. It just needed packaging.


The new facilities at Leopardstown, Croker and the Aviva are not enough on their own to bring people back to the ritual of sports watching.

This was a new venture for an association but expect more of it. GAA President Christy Cooney is among those who want to extend the initiative to other counties.

Next up for the Dubs is Kerry in Croke Park next Saturday.

Long may the party continue.

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