One day in Croker (Part 6)

Her heart sank when she saw that they had already left. For a brief moment she wondered what she should do. The crowd on the pitch showed no signs of dissipating. She reckoned that they wouldn’t have gone far ahead and her sister knew where the car was parked. So, she walked out the back of the stand and started walking down the long set of concrete ramps.

Every Westmeath supporter she passed shouted “Up Westmeath” at her. The Kerry supporters were much quieter.

Just as she made the final corner, she could see them in the distance. It didn’t take her long to catch up.

“Hey guys! Hope you are not too disappointed.”

Jimmy stopped and looked round but Stephen immediately replied, “Sure, we’ll be back next year.”

“Do you want me to push Jimmy?”

“Oh good to see you again. That would be great. I’m really struggling in this heat.”

With that, she took over.

“Your getting old, dear uncle.”

“Not at all, nephew. Your just getting heavier.”

They all laughed.

“Good, to see you again Aoife, Thought you had forgotten us.”

“Oh I wouldn’t forget you Stephen.”

With that he reached his right arm back and she shook his hand. It was softer than she had expected.

One day in Croker (Pt. 5)

The match restarted just as Aoife sat down.

“Find them okay?” her sister asked speaking loudly into her ear.

She nodded in the affirmative.

Kerry scored a goal two minutes later. Her heart sank. Then they scored two more points and she started looking at the sky. Anywhere, but the pitch.

For many minutes nothing happened. Kerry began to kill the game, hand-passing the ball back and forth trying to coax the Westmeath players from their defensive positions. The game was drifting away.

Then Westmeath won possession in midfield and quickly attacked. It was Dolan who won possession, who hand passed to Sheerin. Then a long kick pass to Ahern who swiveled and rifled it into the net. Aoife jumped for joy.

It was all Westmeath now, dominating every aspect of play.

The crowd roared on each point. They drew level and then pulled ahead.

Then the final whistle blew. Westmeath were the new All-Ireland Football Champions.

Tears of joy rolled down Aoife as she hugged all those around her. The crowd emptied onto the field forming a huge mass of people with chants of “Westmeath, Westmeath”.

The minutes flew by as the victory speech in the opposite stand began.

Tá an-áthas orm an corn seo a ghlacadh..”

Then Aoife thought of Stephen. She looked around but couldn’t see her sister.

She found herself walking up the stand to go look for him.

One day in Croker (Pt. 4)

Aoife walked up the steps of the stand. The crowd was more subdued now that play was stopped. She reached the top and looked to her right. She could see Stephen and his uncle in the distance. For a brief moment she paused, not quite sure of herself before pressing onwards.

“Hi Stephen, what did you think of that?”

“Oh, hello, good to see you again. Not too impressed. You must be happy though.”

Then James spoke.

“I thought yous were not going to show up at all there for a while.”

“Yeah, I was a bit worried there for a while. But, we got going. Fingers crossed, we’ll get there in the end.”

They all began to laugh in friendly banter.

“Our forwards are looking better, the more it went on. I don’t know though, Kerry are good. Look I better head back. But I’ll be up after the match to help ye get back to car, alright?”

“Okay, we’ll see you then,” James replied with a smile.

“Yeah, see you after the Kerry victory speech,” Stephen said with a wide grin.

“Ya, git” Aoife replied gently prodding his shoulder.

With that, she turned and made her way back to her seat for the second half. There was a loud roar as the players re-entered the pitch.

One day in Croker (Pt. 3)

The match was about to begin and with it, the hopes and dreams of every Westmeath man and woman. Here, in the majestic and forbidding Croke Park, which was festooned in maroon, green, and gold. Impatient gasps and shouting broke out. Then, with a blow of the referee’s whistle, there was a roar of eighty thousand souls.

“Calm down Aoife, there is seventy minutes to go,” Yvonne laughed.

It was answered with a nervous smile.

Kerry took an early lead and were four points up after the quarter hour mark.

There was a deathly silence from the Westmeath supporters.

Then Aoife began to chant.

Westmeath, Westmeath, Westmeath..

Others joined in and then it sounded like the entire stadium.

Then Westmeath scored a brace of points and drew level.

The game then went back and forth with long stretches of hand passes.

Shouts of –

“Kick the feckin’ thing” went up.

Each team scored two further point before the whistle was blown for half time.

“I might pop up and see if James and Stephen are okay.”

“Yeah, right Aoife. I saw the way you looked at him.”

“What?”

“You fancy him. Go on, off you go.”

Aoife looked dismissively at her sister.

“I’ll be back in a few mins.”

Review of Wednesday (TV series Netflix)

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. What is that Mark fellow, who let’s face it could be described at best as being middle-aged doing watching a fantasy coming-of-age story about a teenage girl. Is he off his rocker again? Maybe, I even deserve your ridicule.

But, trust me when I tell you that I have no regrets whatsoever. Okay, you have to understand its fantasy and just run with it. The star of the show is Wednesday Addams, played by the wonderful Jenna Ortega. Remember the name. As anybody who has watched any Addams family will know, Wednesday is full of woe.

But this series develops her character significantly. And she has been sent to a school full of werewolves and other monsters. Yes, she is full of woe but deep down she does care deeply about those around her. This comes as a surprise to her, but you and the other characters can sense it. Not that she’ll ever be lovey dovely. Her disdain for her parents is very amusing. Her psychic abilities and curiosity drive her to find out who has been behind recent murders near the school. All very bloody, I like it.

The story builds through each episode. And, of course there is romance, this being a show about teenagers after all. Not too much thank God. That sort of thing is so last century.

There are lots of other memorable characters also such as Enid Sinclair, her colourful roommate, who is still to undergo her first wolf out. Talk about teenage angst.

Thankfully, virtue signalling and wokeness are absent. Yes, it could be seen as feminist, but it doesn’t have any man hate in it.

I was delighted to hear there is going to be a second series. Five stars out of five. Now, you know what to watch this weekend.

One Day in Croker Pt. 2 (Romance)

Stephen was somewhat more coy and he said with a wide grin –

“God, I didn’t think I’d be getting help from a Westmeath woman on today of all days!”

“You better pray that Westmeath win so,” Aoife replied.

Yvonne then interjected –

“You’d want to watch her or she’ll tip ya out of that chair. Say one bad thing about Westmeath.”

The small group burst out into laughter.

Soon, they had reached an exit point onto a standard footpath, but descended onto the road when they saw the large crowds all decked out in the maroon of Westmeath, and the green and gold of Kerry walking along it in the direction of Croke Park.

Aoife could hear that Yvonne and James had started chatting away behind them.

“What stand are you in Stephen?”

“The Hogan Stand. I think they have a special wheelchair area.”

“So, are we. We’re in the Lower Stand”

“Looking forward to it? I guess with Kerry winning everything, you’ve been here loadsa times!”

“This is actually my first time here. ‘Twas a long drive, wouldn’t do it often.”

He strained to look backwards. Aoife felt her heart flutter as she looked into his warm, blue eyes. She reckoned that he was in his mid thirties, just like herself.

“Yeah, I’d say it was. What part of Kerry are you from?”

“Tralee.”

“Oh, lovely. Heard so much about Kerry, have always wanted to visit it.”

They were now in the shadow of the stadium.

The place was jammed full of people all excitedly talking to one another.

“I can take it from here Aoife, thanks so much. I think we have to get a lift up to where we’re going,” James said with a wide smile.

Stephen interjected –

“We can’t wish you luck though.”

“We understand.”

With that, they parted ways.

One day in Croker (Romance – Pt 1)

It was the best of times. Of that, she had no doubt. Westmeath had finally reached an All-Ireland final. Only Kerry stood in the way. It wasn’t that Westmeath had experienced a famine, there was never food there in the first place. No glory, no swagger save a lone Leinster title. Now, Aoife would finally see that all change. She just knew it.

“Don’t get your hopes up too much girls, this is Westmeath after all.”

That was her father just over an hour ago, thinking he was being funny. Unfortunately, he was from Offaly and loved to get the digs in when he could.

Now, she could see the stadium in the distance. The drama, the passion. Adrenaline was pumping through her body. She was with her sister Yvonne. Not the biggest of GAA fans, but more of a recent convert, and Westmeath would need every bit of help it could get.

It was a warm day, not a cloud in the sky and they had just parked up on a field at Clonliffe College. They were now walking on the pathway out of the grounds.

“Come on Yvonne, not much further.”

“Relax Aoife, it doesn’t start for an hour.”

Then Aoife noticed that there was an eldely man pushing a guy in a wheelchair a few meters in front of them. But they are struggling over the gravel surface.

“Sorry, need a hand? Can I be of assistance?”

The old man looked at her forlornly. The guy looked somewhat embarrassed. They were both wearing Kerry colors.

“It’s just so hard to push.”

“Here, let me have a go,”

It was tough but she knew she could do it.

“My name is Aoife by the way.”

The older man spoke first.

“I’m James and this is my nephew Stephen.

The Horror (Comedy)

This may be a time of war, starvation, homelessness and despair but its rare for me to be truly horrified. But, this was a truly terrible confession by Mr R (to keep anonymity). It took some minutes for me to stop shaking with the dread. Well Mr R was out on the town having some beers. All good so far. It has to be done after all. I’d like to imagine he was chatting up everything with a skirt.

And as is customary he decided to have some vodka when he got home. As God would have intended. Well, after pouring himself a triple or so, he had a sip and let the taste hit his tongue.

But he decided that he had his fill and threw it down the sink.

“How could you?” I said

“It’s just so wrong?”

“Think of all the alcos dying for a drop, how do you live with yourself?”

The horror.

All those years of patience, seeking perfection ruined.

Perhaps, it started its life as a potato out in a field full of hope that someday in the future, it could be distilled into the most perfect vodka before being drank by a good man. Hopes now cruelly dashed.

I think of that partially empty bottle of vodka, all alone in a fridge somewhere wondering what is the meaning of it all.

It’ll take time folks but I’ll be okay. Each hour I’m thinking about that beautiful full glass of vodka, a little bit less. I’m strong, I can do it.

Review of “Children of Time” by Adrian Tchalkovsky (Sci-fi novel)

Well readers, I really should have been studying for upcoming interviews but I can always waste tomorrow doing that instead. This novel, the winner of the 2016 Arthur C Clarke was well worth it and a real gem. It’s hard to know exactly to start. It’s a long read at over six hundred pages.

It covers many different themes, some of which are God, alienness and what exactly that means, and the difficulties and duration of space travel for a level of technology that humans might approximate in the next century.

In the far future Dr. Avrana Kern is the head of a science team that has terraformed an uninhabitable torus shaped planet to make it suitable for life. A genetically designed virus to speed the evolution of monkeys is then released. But that is where things start to go wrong. There is a revolution, then a war of annihilation that breaks out throughout the empire. This affects the science vessel too and the monkeys who are the intended target of the virus burn up in the planet’s atmosphere.

Instead, it acts on different species but has the largest impact on spiders/

We are then introduced to an Ark Ship called The Gilgamesh that is the last remnants of humanity and looking for somewhere to settle down. Earth has been poisoned by the Old Empire.

What follows is a fascinating journey through space and time. What most impresses me about the novel, is how the spiders follow their own different way of technological improvement and the pure genius of the author to imagine it all. It really feels like you are being given an insight into something somewhat familiar, yet so alien.

Needless to say, this masterpiece gets five stars out of five. The movie rights have been sold but I think it would be impossible to truly bring it to the big screen. Like all the spider communications would have to be subtitled and would people want to look up close at spiders for so long.. It definitely wouldn’t be as good as the book.