Read Michael Lyster’s Column every month in Ireland’s Own
I had an experience recently that I haven’t had for many years, even decades, and that is that I went to a GAA championship match — as a spectator!
As many of you probably know I spent 35 years fronting the Sunday Game and even before that another four years covering championship and league for RTE Radio Sport.
In fact, before that again I also spent six years in the Tuam Herald newspaper covering matches, club and county, so essentially the past near half century for me has involved studios and press boxes and looking out on games and the loyal paying customers from my privileged position. But just a few short weeks ago, I found myself joining the throng and going through the turnstiles at Markievicz Park in Sligo.
Even going through those turnstiles was a novelty.
On the Sunday Game, and given that most programmes are double-headers, the practice is to present from the second match venue of the day. So, for a 4 o’clock game in, say, Thurles, I would be into Semple Stadium for around 11am to get ready for a 1.30pm programme start.
From then on you would be out of the general hustle and bustle and bedded in to the relative calm of the RTE studio (remember Brolly and Spillane generally didn’t go to Semple Stadium!)
However at Markievicz Park it was fellas trying to sell me hats and scarves of either Sligo or Galway, or Liverpool or Barcelona, and then it was off into the action.