Cat Laughs and Cat Fears as Dublin take their high-spirited show on the road 4 years ago

Cat Laughs and Cat Fears as Dublin take their high-spirited show on the road

They were taking no chances in a muggy Marble City on Saturday evening. One edgy steward in particular seemed to be at DEFCON 2 on the Maor emergency scale.

He wasn't happy with photos being taken near his post, and he was willing to get the thin blue line of the law involved.

"This is a security issue," he explained, obstreperously.  "You could be filming me and sending the footage to someone up the road who will then come down and rob me."

We parted ways before he called for a Garda to protect his image rights, or I had an opportunity to ask this high-vis cyberphobe which was his favourite of the 'Bourne' movies.

Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final, Nowlan Park, Kilkenny 4/6/2016 Dublin vs Laois Dublin fans during the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

The comedians were elsewhere in Kilkenny this weekend, but there was still a chuckle to be had around fortress Nowlan Park.

You had to wonder, as Dublin fans spilled out the doors of each and every hostelry like blue cotton wool, what visiting comics like Reginald D Hunter and Rich Hall made of the scene on John Street Upper and John's Bridge?

Did Hunter manage to work a bit about the Sky Blue invasion of Canal Square into his 'Aluminium Negro' show at the Watergate Theatre?

The American was due on stage about 8pm. By that time the outdoor attraction on O'Loughlin Road was settled. Truth be told it was settled by 7.05pm, when Diarmuid Connolly smashed home Dublin's second goal.


Five minutes gone and all that the travelling hordes had left to do was go through their repertoire of songs, cheer their next 21 scores and serenade second half substitute Eoghan O'Gara on his return from long-term injury.

The Laois fans who turned up had very little to cheer about. Unhappy that Dublin's first Championship trip outside Croke Park for 10 years was not fixed for O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, many decided to stay away.

Those who turned up saw their team concede a goal to Dean Rock within 20 seconds before a long Stephen Cluxton kickout found Connolly, for whom the Laois defence parted like the Red Sea as he waltzed to within shooting distance and cracked the game ending goal to the net.

Five minutes and the 1/100 odds had been justified. John O'Loughlin's 27th minute red card, distributed following a dig at Michael Darragh Macauley's nose, franked Dublin's semi-final against the winners of Meath and Louth.


There were bright points for Laois in a better second half. Stephen Attride's superbly-taken goal, Donal Kingston's occasional moments of unplayable brilliance on the edge of the square and a heroic performance from corner-back Damien O'Connor.

It wasn't enough to compensate for being assigned a neutral venue for the Dubs' first away match since 2006. The GAA citing concerns for season ticket holders and facility-fond Dubs did not ring true.

The need to put bums on seat was also debunked when the terraced Town End filled up first, leaving the all-seated stand at the O'Loughlin Gaels side of the venue all but deserted.

Regardless, the vast majority of the 16,764 in attendance hailed from the capital. A reality that Laois manager Mick Lillis bemoaned after the match, when both sets of supporters had already pointed their convoys for home - be they on the M9 victory road or the N77, route of the vanquished.

Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final, Nowlan Park, Kilkenny 4/6/2016 Dublin vs Laois Dublin warm up in front their fans Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

"It was very heavily weighted towards Dublin, that is not surprising. A lot of Laois people didn't travel. It was more of a protest than anything else and you could understand very much why.

"Not going to go down the same road again but the Leinster Council got it seriously wrong and I just hope they learn from it," added Lillis, who had made his feelings clear on the choice of venue long before Saturday.

Watching the Dublin faithful alight their buses and make for the sunniest beer gardens and river banks it was obvious they would have been just as happy in the Midlands.


What's rare is wonderful and for the Dubs, a trip outside the M50 in summer to see their all-conquering Boys in Blue is a treat. Portlaoise, Kilkenny, Carlow, Longford... they are all just points on a map to conquer.

It was also patently obvious the new jersey has been a money-spinner for O'Neills. Rumours that the manufacture of all other county jerseys has been slowed as they keep up with Dublin demand seemed wholly plausible as you walked the humanity-crammed streets of Kilkenny.

Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final, Nowlan Park, Kilkenny 4/6/2016 Dublin vs Laois Dublin fans arrive Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Everywhere you looked, Dublin fans were recognising friends, singing songs, flirting with hen parties and swigging cans. You'll need to head to Paris on June 18th to experience an Irish sporting atmosphere like it again this summer.

It was hard to avoid the influence of over-exposure to sun and alcohol - the flare up on the bridge between a group of young lads and a Dublin fan who wandered out in front of their car was as loud as it was harmless.

The sound of breaking glass, the traffic jams, the unenviable clean-up operation facing Kilkenny County Council... Just another Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland, the only difference being most of the revellers here were sponsored by an insurance giant.

If the team's safe passage was confirmed early in the day it looked like being an awkward evening for some of their travelling support. With the last train leaving at 9pm, and booked out days in advance, one fan was predicting MacDonagh Junction mayhem after the match.

Irish Rail could have made life easier for everyone involved with a few extra carriages or a later service, especially if, as this one would-be commuter suggested, they were going to need "the army to stop lads" if they are determined to get on that 9pm to Heuston.

At the time of writing it was not clear if this prophecy, delivered while sipping a 4pm can of cider, came to pass. But if Eoin Larkin and the troops at Stephens Barracks had to enforce martial law at the nearby train station we probably would have heard something about it by now.

We wager not.

For all that is said and written, the Dublin fans are a lot like the team they follow. Boasting a fearsome reputation and undeniable swagger, even when they leave you trailing in their wake, it is impossible to deny they are highly entertaining.

Like Reginald D Hunter, Rich Hall or a Nowlan Park steward.