Monday, July 16, 2007

Boulder and Wiser?

Dublin's struggle to win the All-Ireland is your classic Sisysphean task. Sisyphus, for those who chose woodwork over classics, was a king in ancient Greece who was condemned to roll a boulder up a hill for eternity in punishment for thinking himself cleverer than Zeus. Every time he would get the rock up to the brow of this mythical mount, it would roll infuriatingly back down again.

Sisyphus sounds a bit like the stereotypical Hill 16-dwelling, dodgy-plasma-screen-TV-selling, baseball-cap-tilted-upwards, cocky-son-of-a-bitch Dub alright.
A crafty sort, apparently he was subjected to the perpetual, soon to be eponymous task for conning no less personages than Hades and Thanatos (Lord of the Underworld and God of Death respectively) into chaining themselves up, thereby, er, stopping death, or something (look, this is all vouched for by that most respected repository of classical learning, Wikipedia).

When he got his comeuppance for that and was sent to underworld for his troubles, he even managed to cod the Queen of the Underworld, Persephone, into letting him go back above, after she bought the line that he'd been sent their by mistake. Scamp!

Anyhow, the boulder was soon dug out for Sisyphus, and he was set to work for eternity for his troubles.

I rather think that the gods of Gaelic football (I'm picturing a ginormous Kerryman with a beard as the Zeus-like figure, perhaps an older version of Bomber Liston?) have made a similar judgement on the Dubs as their Greek equivalents made on Sispyphus. Just as his hubris in attempting to outsmart the gods got him in trouble, so the Dubs have been punished for excessive strutting, whooping and taunting in Croke Park on Championship Sundays.

Every year, Dublin push that boulder up the foothills of the Leinster minnows, past the steeper incline of feisty Meath, over the jagged obstruction of Laois, up to within sight of the summit, until suddenly they lose their grip at the sheer cliff-face of another province and then....wheeeee! And so on and so forth.

The torture of Sisyphus's plight is not in the mere fact that the bloody boulder keeps falling down the hill, but rather that he is condemned to repeat the infernal job. Quite frankly, any remotely sane-minded person would have thrown his hat at the thing. Similarly, Dublin come back every year, convinced that this time the blasted rock will stay up, despite repeated evidence of the futility of it all.

However, back at Gaelic football Mount Olympus - which looks like the snug of a pub in, say, Caherciveen, where Bomber Liston-in-robes holds forth with minor deities; a winged-footed Paidí O Sé, Mick O'Dwyer with a trident, etc. - the gods are restless. Some laugh at the poor wretch, pushing the confounded boulder again, the hope of success still not extinguished.

But the Zeus-like figure is concerned. He remembered 1995, when the cruelty of Dublin's perpetual struggle was at its zenith, after repeated scuppering by the slippery peaks of the north, but how they had kept at it again and again until eventually they succeeded.

"Yerra, 'tis likely 'twill happen sooner or later," boomed the Zeus-like figure, smashing his huge fist down on the table, sending pints of divine stout everywhere, "for 'tis quare strong they're looking this year."

The minor deities furrowed their brows at the big man's words, him not being given to unnecessary displays of emotion.

Meanwhile, down below, the boulder inched up another few feet.

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