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It's wonderful, this time of year!

This morning I made my way from a friends wedding in Stillorgin to Heuston Station in Dublin. We are experiencing some exceptional weather in Ireland for the past few days and this morning is no different. However, as uplifting as this weather is for the soul and general mood, this is not my reason for loving this time of year so much. As the taxi zipped its way through backroads, suburb estates and city streets, the windows of the taxi open fully, allowing the summer sound of lawnmowers invade the interior of the car, matched by the smell of cut grass and the visual of the heatwaves rising off cars and the road in front of us, me and this particular driver were mid argument. Was I unhappy with the service? Was he bringing me on a wild goose chase, after detecting the soft tones of a man from the real republic? Did I believe the "faulty" meter was overcharging me? Nope, none of those things. Fact is, he's a delusional Dub and I am a realist Rebel!

The flags draped across city and country dwelling windows, the friendly pre match banter, the sight of Pat Spillane, Joe Brolly (talking out his backside), Colm O Rourke, Cyril Farrell, Tomas Mulcahy and thankfully Ger Loughnane this year on the Sunday Game excites me in a special way for the same four months every year. The pride I take, in putting on my blood and bandage apparel every year is just a different pride to those wearing Manchester or Liverpool Jerseys. This is my county, this is where I was born, I have the accent as did my forefathers. I know my city like the back of my hand. Every player wearing the Cork Jersey is from Cork. They know the responsibility putting on that jersey holds. It's a colloquial thing, money never comes into it. We cannot be bought out by oil rich families, nor will our sport be more about entertainment value and sponsorship value, than the game itself. The GAA have progressed in the last two decades, no doubt about that, but our game will always be about the game!

I was in the car five minutes and our conversation was after igniting in a way that would have made any outsider think we had known each other for years. As a realist rebel I still believe the only team that the Cork footballers should truly fear this year is, as always, Kerry. I think, as I have always thought, that once Dublin drop the intensity their game falls apart. They remind me of the Kilkenny hurlers, without the obvious widespread natural talent. Kilkenny have enough class in their team, that should they not be giving the opposition butts of hurleys' in faces or throwing their hurley's at opposition forwards through on goal, they normally still can pull through based on their natural ability. Dublin don't have that with the exception of the Brogans and their new arrival and whirlwind player, that ironically goes by the surname Kilkenny. As you can imagine that observation by a rival county did not go down too well. 

Isn't that what our wonderful sports are about though? Where a Cork man like myself can revel in our consistent dual competitiveness, where Kilkenny can use the term Cats in multiple metaphors imprinted on black and amber flags, draped across motorway bridges to annoy the Premier or Rebel Fans on the long trip to Croker. Where every season every county believes it's going to be their year and where the debate about "puke football" and "cynical hurling" lights up online forums and ignites studio debates. Attending GAA matches brings out a type of beast in me, and I would at least hope or assume plenty other young GAA fans. Traditions of eating sandwiches from tin foil wraps is too important a family tradition to even contemplate giving up, simply because I won't look as metropolitan as I normally wish. As I sit here on the train heading back to homeland, I truly cannot wait to get home and watch the start of the 2012 championship, a feeling only bettered by the feeling I will get as I take my first trip to Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Semple Stadium or Fitzgeralds Stadium in just a few weeks. God I love this time of year!

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