Friday, September 5, 2014

Dublin Goes Down to Donegal

Dublin is known as a Gaelic Football (hereafter just called "football") powerhouse. Year in and year out Dublin is always involved as the football tournament winds down. This year was no different as the men's team prepared to square off in the semi final against northwest-corner-of-Ireland Donegal at Croke Park one day after Penn State beat UCF in a thriller.

The day of the Croke Park Classic, Kerry and Mayo played a spectacular semi final replay over in Limerick- much to the dismay of many fans here in Ireland who view Croke Park as sacred GAA ground. To have a Gaelic game, especially a football semi final, pushed out by an invading American sport was unthinkable.

But the GAA didn't foresee the semi going to a replay, and the schedule was what it was. Kerry overtook Mayo in an historic battle, and the winner of Dublin and Donegal would take them on in the final later this fall.

During the week, we kept seeing references to the big game in the local press. Whenever a matchup like this rolls around, the media don't only cover the upcoming sports action. Donegal is a rural county in western Ireland with a small population. Dublin is, well, Dublin. Overtones of the plucky country folks (a bit exaggerated) taking on the wealthy and sophisticated (very much exaggerated) Dublin were everywhere.

National publications like the Irish Times and Irish Independant were a bit more balanced, at least as far as this American could tell, but the Dublin-centered tabloids certainly had a pro-blue bent.

On match day, I was watching the game on RTE online while monitoring the Twitter feed of #dublinvdonegal.

In the second half, Dublin mostly lost the plot, and Donegal started pouring in goals. Twitter became even more "Let's beat those city folk!" than some of the papers had.

Dublin fans were a bit less impressed...

Donegal rode the second half hot streak to a decisive victory at 3-14 (23 total) to 0-17 (17 total). That's a wide margin in this game, especially for a team that was a 6-1 underdog, as many happy Tweeters who had bet on Donegal on the moneyline.

This Sunday, hurling-crazed Kilkenny takes on Tipperary in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final. The hoopla has been big in the national media, but the local Dublin rags have been a bit more quiet on the subject... wonder why?

Kilkenny hurling blasted Dublin in the Leinster (eastern Ireland region) final earlier this season on our first-ever visit to Croke Park. I'm not sure who I want to win, but I'm hoping for a great match with an equally entertaining Twitter feed on Sunday.

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