Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Get That Man a Dub-ble

Alcoholic narcolepsy, that's my diagnosis.

Classic case, judging by the symptoms of Dublin's football team on Sunday. You know the type: the fellow slumped unconscious at the bar, the drool on his chin dangling perilously over the dregs in his glass, who suddenly, as if someone had inserted a coin into a slot in his back, wakes up and begins a tour de force of bar-room bonhomie.

Barmaids are reluctantly waltzed around the premises, outrageous stories involving stowing away in a merchant ship bound for the Barbary Coast are breathlessly told, a stirring rebel ballad is crooned, then........slump, back to boozy slumber. And the barkeep doesn't mind so much because, "sure he's nowhere else to go".

Yes alcoholic narcolepsy, clearly. The ball is thrown in at Croke Park and Dublin are all tall tales and ripping yarns, devastating wit and blustery banter. Five points up and the craic is ninety. Shane Ryan punches the air as if to give us a blast of Sean South from Garryowen, then.....slump...zzzzzzzzz...

Meanwhile, with Dublin dreaming of the time they and Brendan Behan robbed barrels of porter from Guinness's yard, Meath quietly went about the business of cleaning up the mess - righting upturned barstools, placating the irate barmaid ("I'm telling ya, I've had enough of him"), wiping down the counter. Then the Dubs are up again, full of the joys, lucid and engaging; the goal comes, a few more points...slump....snorrrrrre...
And so on and so forth.

It often happens in Gaelic football that - even in the most well-matched contests - matches are broken into chapters of domination, rather than having a simple, metronomic or 'end-to-end' flow. It is difficult to pin-point why this happens. Is it because, having gotten a score, the attacking side have an advantage with the ensuing kickout, due to their ball-winners being able to 'run onto' the arriving clearance, whereas the defending team must change direction in order to launch a retaliatory attack?

Or is it purely a psychological domino effect? Does the effect of getting a score release endorphins in the attacking side that inspire them to outperform their opponents over the next several sequences of play, until the momentum eventually dwindles and the initiative swings the other way?

Perhaps it is just the nature of the sport: that a game which demands such wholehearted collective commitment requires a breather every now and then.

Whatever causes it, there is no team that exemplify this phenomenon quite like Dublin. When they're good, they're very, very good, and when they're bad, they're horrid. The psychological explanation is quite persuasive in the case of the Dubs in Croke Park, given that, when they are on top, the force of positivity from the majority of the massive crowd is like a massive shot of adrenalin.

Conversely, when that force is inverted, and the team are struggling, it must seem an oppressive burden.

We could go on about the lack of leadership, the problems at full-back and with free-taking, the flaws that remain stubbornly with this Dublin team like ill-advised tattoos, and mean that they seem destined for another year of frustration. That still doesn't explain the explosions of virtuosity they can produce, then follow up with the flattest bum notes.

Alcoholic narcolepsy, it has to be.

"Did I ever tell you about the time I won the All-Ireland.....a nayshun onnnnnce again!.....Hic!....zzzzzzzzzzzzz"

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

jaysus tom,

I thought I'd had a right few myself when I got to the middle there. The writing went wee there.

In keeping with tradition, a draw!

5:54 p.m.  
Blogger Tommy77 said...

Sorry, fixed that now. Bloody Blogger, it really would drive a man to drink (legend has it that's what drove Ollie Reed to the soup).

They sit over there on their bean-bags in San Francisco or wherever, thinking they're great, meanwhile over in grey ould Ireland the likes of me are dealing with their crappy blog software.

F#ckin hippies.

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