Be still, my about-to-explode-from-my-chest heart

Back in 2006 I was lucky enough to be at Anfield when Liverpool beat Man Utd in the FA Cup, Peter Crouch’s first half header enough for the win. At the final whistle there was much rejoicing and I shook hands with the man beside me, because they just couldn’t have done it without us. “Thank God”, he said, “that really is no good for my heart condition”. No doubt about that, but I thought of him this evening as I followed events from Tullamore on Twitter. Because while it may be stressful watching your team in the flesh, it is a walk along the prom in 25° mid-afternoon Saturday sunshine compared to not being there.

Being there is a lot easier on the heart because you can see everything unfolding in front of you. Even the television can’t capture the nuances of an individual player dying on his feet or an entire team floundering as the game slips away from them. Anyone watching the game against Clare would have been completely flummoxed at how Waterford imploded in the manner they did. You really had to be there to smell the frustration on the wind, to see the hunch on each player’s shoulders as they realised a game they could have won was turning into a rout. You can only get some of that on television, and radio is far worse. At least on television you can see each individual play. On radio even the simplest passage of play is portrayed as if it were the butterfly float and bee sting of Muhammad Ali. It’s unbearable, so I don’t bear it.

I’m sure plenty of people would be aghast at the thought of following it on TwitterThe way I see it, reading text is wonderfully antiseptic. When it looked like the game was running away from us tonight as Offaly eliminated the four-point lead Waterford had built up with the wind in the first half, I was able to tell myself that we just weren’t good enough and start mentally preparing my best magnanimous speech – don’t want to be accused of being infantile now, do I? And it was a fine plan, right up to the point where it looked like we might escape from O’Connor Park with a win. Then followed ten frantic minutes of hammering the refresh button and relying on people who had better things to be doing than telling complete strangers what was going on. It was awful. And this was for a victory!

In a nutshell, I’d like to be there whether we win or lose. The reason for the former is obvious, and the reason for the latter is that I can cope better with the fallout. Maybe the GAA should add a qualifier to their marketing slogan “Nothing beats being there – because not being there could be the death of you”. As a wise man once said, it is much safer to be feared than loved.

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2 thoughts on “Be still, my about-to-explode-from-my-chest heart

  1. Peter

    Being there may not be all it’s cracked up to be either, for example Cyril wristy hurler Farell was there as well as myself and we both saw two totally different games. According to Cyril on the Sunday game it was a great game of hurling, according to myself it was a poor game between two average sides. You could not tell from the radio or the TV or twitter just how average Offaly are and neither does it tell you that the home support gave up on them with about 10 minutes to go when they needed them most. It was actually weird, the home crowd just went quiet when we got our noses in front near the end. Waterford were clearly the better hurlers but as they were playing as individuals rather than a team they made hard work of a game which should have been over at half time. A couple of things TV or twitter probably didn’t tell you…Jake Dillon missed an open goal from the edge of the small square when he kicked wide, a miss Ronnie Rosental would have been proud of. Martin O’Neill followed this with driving a point effort wide from 20 yards after he had come on for Seamus Prender who had probably his most abysmal showing in a waterford jersey ever. Brick came to the rescue when he powered into the game in the last 20 well assisted by Paudie Prendergast when he was moved to wing back.
    the positives: Prendergast at wing back, O Sullivan at corner forward, signs that Maurice is finally starting to mature into a top inter county player.The ball winning ability and aggression of Shane O’Sullivan in the half forward line. The fact that we should have at least 2 more games to continue the development of the new young players.

  2. deiseach Post author

    Thanks for the feedback, Peter. I was making a general comment about the state of mind of a Waterford partisan when they can’t find themselves at the game. I certainly wasn’t lamenting missing out on some red-hot hurling action 🙂 It’s mad how a team can score 21 points and still be looking at the the forwards as the weak half of the team. Had Maurice not gone nap – and in his seventh Championship start, it’s about time that a player of his talent did – then we’d have been completely snookered. I really think Michael Ryan has done a lot right. They’re disciplined, cute in possession, and the implosion in the Clare game looks like the exception rather than the rule in terms of keeping their heads up. But the shooting has been abysmal. Cork were knocking over scores from all manner of places yesterday, we can’t even be sure of the sitters.

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