“And one fine day the goddess of the wind kisses the foot of man, that mistreated, scorned foot, and from that kiss the soccer idol is born. He is born in a straw crib in a tin-roofed shack and he enters the world clinging to a ball.”
– Eduardo Galeano
As the evening turned dark in Cork, the floodlights filled the sky with their glow again, under shadow, a man-made sun. As I walked down the road, to my left there was the beginning of a removal in the funeral home near Turner’s Cross. Bodies stood silent and patient in the cold air to pay their respects.
Rounding the corner, I picked up my programme, I joined the long, snaking queue that had somehow built up for tickets. After a wait, through the turnstiles, I went up the yellow steps, sitting just across the way from Tommy Dunne’s vociferous Rebel Army in the Shed End. The game kicked off and the northern visitors, a hardy few, received a hostile welcome. The noise was intense; the banners unfurled, the drum thumping. The Stone Island jackets were on, the top buttons of the Fred Perry’s closed. The first competitive game for Cork City’s men in 2013. They meant business, deadly business.
Gearóid Morrissey scored in the 16th minute. When that first goal went in, young teenage boys celebrated exuberantly, hugging girls. When the girls moved round to the other side of the tunnel, a few of the boys followed to join them – mixing one emotion for another, it seems. Elsewhere familiar faces cajoled and cursed by turn.
Ian Turner played out of his skin, scoring twice. Cliftonville began to see red, as well as wear it, and a penalty was awarded. 2-0, placing it high and to the left much to the joy of the Shed End. Cliftonville fans ignited a flare filling the ground with a red mist to match that of goalkeeper Ryan Brown, who was left on more than one occasion all alone by his defense. Daryl Kavanagh joined Morrissey and Turner in the revelry, scoring one from a header. The swirling came around this, a white ball. Peep peep. 4-0. That was that then: the football, returned.