Before the match on Sunday, I was quite sanguine about the prospect of it being played at the widely-reviled Páirc Uí Caucescu. We hadn’t played there since 2006, a run of 26 Championship matches, and a change of scene would be quite pleasant. Thurles was becoming a little too familiar – 12 of those 26 matches – and besides, thanks to the Youghal bypass and the Jack Lynch tunnel things were now a vast improvement on the days when we’d have to crawl through the town/city centre and crawl back out again. Things would be okay.
The notion of repressed memories is a controversial one, but if its advocates need evidence in its favour then they could do worse than interview me, because things must have been far worse back in the 1990’s yet I’ve somehow forgotten the trauma.
- Traffic jams in Killeagh, Castlemartyr and Midleton, accompanied by much tut-tutting from the retired peeler in my company.
- The rancid, overcrowded toilets.
- The gaps between the seats. The computer firm Digital did an exercise called ‘densification‘ where they measured how much they could trim off each cubicle in their offices to create space for one more. Someone clearly conducted that exercise for the rows in PUC – then put in twice as many seats.
- Speaking of trimming, the seats themselves. It had to be pointed out to me that the lip at the back of the seats had to be trimmed. There can’t have been an ungrazed knee in the place before this exercise.
- And we lost. Badly.
In short, those bitching about Cork before the match have been proven right. In terms of access (something you can’t blame the Cork County Board for) and the quality of the venue (something you can blame them for) Semple Stadium dumps all over Páirc Uí Chaoimh with everything that was on the ground in the toilets in PUC. The irony is that it is now official GAA policy that Thurles is “recognised as our second stadium and as a hurling stadium“. Under-21 finals will be played there in the future even if Tipperary are competing. The day when the same can be said of Munster finals has surely moved a step closer.