Croker corker As part of my ongoing efforts to subtly blend in with the natives, I have identified a few crucial ‘interests’ that I have tried to pass off as long-standing traditions in the Cronin household. First off, I doctored my pink wellies – a gift from the girls when I left the bright (flashing blue) lights of D12 – with some fence paint to authenticate them as rural ‘chic’. This has enabled me to ‘walk the land’ behind my house regularly, chewing on a blade of pampas grass, thus affecting the air of a country gal who Calamity Jane would be proud of. Unfortunately, the similarities with Jane extend further than the sartorial elegance of my garb and bandy-legged gait. I misjudged the extent of my boundary one evening while saluting Gadget Farmer and found myself knee deep in a neighbour’s drain. Two minutes later GF was hovering three feet above me, offering a rope that looked like it had had some strategic use in the birth of a calf earlier that day, but at that particular minute, I wasn’t complaining. Secondly, I have learned the value of never throwing anything out. In my early days at the new homestead, I was immediately singled-out as a city girl due to the overflowing nature of my bin on collection day. One by one my neighbours arrived within minutes of its first sighting at the gate with requests. Old scraps of wood, tiles, bottles and even an old brush handle were out-sourced around the townland, making me realise this recycling lark is not, after all, the invention of the Green Party. Now my bin is as barren as my well-intentioned vegetable plot, I’m happy to say. But the third element of my triumvirate of plans to shake off the ‘blow-in’ tag has surprisingly proved to be the most enjoyable. Growing up in the shadow of Pairc Ui Chaoimh, I associated the imposing structure with being an excellent venue for rock concerts (Michael Jackson, 1988) and festivals (Siamsa, Féile), but paid little attention to its sporting function. But nowadays my Cork flag flies proudly at my front door on match days, and my car is doctored with the blood ‘n’ bandages of the bowld home team. And nowhere does a rural rebel feel more at home than on the terrace of a GAA pitch. Never mind those Liveline callers, or IFA protest marches, if you want to see a perfect microcosm of Irish life, you won’t get a finer example than at a GAA match. I have particularly fond memories of a Cork/Louth qualifier in Portlaoise. Just before kick-off, my ears pricked up to the sound of a ‘Corrie’ ringtone from the row behind. A short exchange followed, with the muffled sounds of an irate woman at one end and the classic drawl of a Louth man at my end, saying things like: ‘Ohhh dee-ar. Dat’s awwwwwphul” and ‘I wel sorth thaaat owt when I git baaaaack.” He clicked his phone closed, leaned into the man beside him and said: ‘I’m in therrible throuble. I bought yar wan shoooes, but they’re tha wrong feckin colour.’ His admission was met with a sympathetic ‘tut tut’ from his friend, which had the air of ‘I know exactly what you mean, mate’ about it. Twenty minutes into the match and a young woman behind me was, em, voicing her appreciation of one of the Louth forwards. ‘Would you give him one?’ her boyfriend roared in her ear. ‘Damn right I would!’ the Louth mouth shot back, just as her boy scored, and my face flushed to match my jersey. At half time, the two lads to my left struck up a conversation about their love lives to pass the time. ‘I heard ya had a new woman,’ said Corkie No 1. ‘I do, boy, I do,” said his buddy. ‘Where’s she from now?’ was the next line of the interrogation. ‘She’s livin’ in Phibsboro at the minute,’ responded No 2. ‘Jaysus boy, dat’s great!” says our man, ‘Perfect for Croker in September!” Ah, the optimism of the southern lads. You just have to love them.