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1 October 2010

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Win, lose and the National Draw


WE NEED to begin this column with an apology. Some families were on their way home to Newry, Mayobridge, Warrenpoint, Downpatrick and the like the other Sunday. They were disappointed. Their plucky little team had just been beaten in the All-Ireland Final. But worse was to come.
As they passed Swords, they might have noticed two young women standing by the side of the road jubilantly waving Cork flags and making rude gestures at Northern-reg cars.
One of them was my flatmate, Roisín. On her behalf, to our readers in Down, she deeply and profoundly apologises for any offence taken. It was completely out of character. The incident where she burned a Down flag was the result of an explosive combination of victory induced-hysteria and vodka. A lot of vodka.
The other woman was me – and I don’t apologise. Carneys don’t apologise. We gloat. We’re bad losers and insufferable winners. Pa Carney routinely visits the grave of a man from the next village over to remind him of the day we beat them in a junior county championship final. Sometimes he brings pictures of the match and sticks them on the headstone with blu-tac.
That’s the Carney way.

TWENTY-ONE years since we’d won an All-Ireland boys and girls. Twenty-one years. That’s almost as bad as Waterford (well, not quite - it’s been 61 years for them, which is a lot more, but it’s a handy excuse to remind them). So you savour it. Because, you see, part of the true joy of our national sports is the gloating, the ability to walk into work the next day and over to the desk of the guy from Waterford and to taunt him. To enjoy the pleasure of mocking his county, their infantile athletic prowess, the dubious moral standards of their womenfolk and the frankly questionable personal hygiene habits of their men.
But we can’t rely on Waterford all the time. For one thing, they don’t play football. I mean, they enter a team and all, and I’m sure it’s very nice and many of their players do seem to have the same jersey, but it’s not a real football team. However, sadly, there’s no one from Down in my office, or living locally, so I am using this column to gloat, just a little, about sending your red and black-clad hides back north of the border empty-handed. Proper order.

BUT, as bad as I am at twisting the knife, I have to take my hat off to one far worse than I.
James McCartan was still a crumpled wreck on the pitch when this interesting little message popped up on Facebook: “Sinn Féin National Draw. Hard luck, Down. You mightn’t have won today but you still could be in with a chance to win the National Draw. Tickets can be purchased from your nearest SF activist.”
That’s cold. That’s just downright cold. Sitting huddled around their open fires, the people of Downpatrick are supposed to console themselves by buying National Draw tickets? You can just imagine Caitríona Ruane going over to commiserate with Benny Coulter or Ambrose Rogers and when there’s a lull in the conversation she pulls out a sheaf of National Draw tickets, saying, “While I have you, lads, you wouldn’t take a couple of tickets for the National Draw, would you?”
I don’t see it happening somehow.
Which means it’s up to the rest of us. Now let’s be honest with each other. No one likes asking people they know for money. I hate the National Draw. You hate the National Draw. Everyone hates it. For two months our family and friends duck when they see us (even more than usual in my case).
But it has to be done. You know why? Because IBEC aren’t going to walk into 44 Parnell Square and hand over a wad of cash from the sweatshop-running parasitic vermin that makes up their membership. ICTU aren’t going to divert some of the union contributions they use to fund their sell-outs to us instead of to Labour. Builders and developers aren’t going to stick envelopes of cash in a Sinn Féin councillor’s jacket.
You can’t fight a war without weapons. You can’t fight elections and build a party without money. And bear in mind what our money doesn’t go on. We’re not wasting it on focus groups or polling. We’re not hiring some flashy PR type to chant meaningless buzz words and slogans at us. We’re certainly not throwing it away by paying our employees banker-size salaries or, heaven forbid, a pension.
We’re a movement of people who don’t have much money that’s fighting on behalf of people who have even less. So, stop your whingeing. Get up off the couch and start thinking of people who might buy a couple of tickets. But, ah, maybe leave the ones in Down alone for a bit. Go easy on them.

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