The 15 stages of coming up to Croker for a GAA match
Brought to you by Crunchie.
Championship season is here and with it comes the tea and tinfoil brigades' invasion of Dublin.
For many years I fell firmly into that bracket myself, following Westmeath to the north inner city for an annual loss against the Dubs or Meath. Usually Meath.
But this article isn't about just one county.
It's about all of us from outside the capital. For every summer for as long as we can remember, we pack the car to bursting point and travel up to pin our hopes and happiness on a bunch of amateurs.
Getting the jersey ready the night before
Because not being able to find your county jersey when a car full of people are telling you to 'hurry the f*ck on' is one of the most stressful situations ever.
The pre-journey fry-up
You heard people say that an army marches on its stomach. Did you know that's also true of the army's supporters.
The mammy making the sandwiches and tea the morning of the game
For the last time, coleslaw doesn't keep well in the heat.
Taking notes of everyone's prediction on the way
Uncle Paddy reckons we're going to get hammered. What does he know...
The struggle of finding a parking spot within 15 miles of the actual stadium
"Sure we'll park in Rathmines, it's not that long of a walk."
Thirty-five minutes later, "Dad, my legs feel like they're going to fall off."
Pre-match pints in the Big Tree or Quinn's
As far as rituals go, this isn't a bad one.
Getting into the ground for the minor game
Trying to pick out the lad who'll become 'too interested in pints and women' before he's 20 is always a fun challenge.
Inevitably running into your neighbour
Over 80,000 people fit into Croke Park, yet somehow you are sitting beside the Ned Flanders of your area.
Digging into the hang sandwiches and tea at half-time... then suddenly realising you forgot the milk/ sugar
Not to worry. Just dip your Twix in it.
The 10 minute wait on the steps to get out of the ground
The most frustrating part of the day.
Going to the pre-arranged spot to meet the one family member/ friend who had a ticket in a different part of the stadium
You were Canal End, they were the Cusack Stand. Now neither of you can find each other.
The massive fear of your car being clamped on the walk back after the game
Nobody mentioned it, but everyone was worried.
Picking your own man of the match then listening to Sunday Sport on the way home
You always knew more than the pundits. Well, you thought you did.
The ridiculous traffic on the way home
The traffic after Westmeath won the Leinster in 2004 was so bad that it took four hours to get to Kinnegad.
Granted, that might have had something to do with the fact we drove through all of Meath twice while beeping our horns and singing 'We are the Champions.'
Finally, watching a tape recording of the match when you got back to the local in your home
Win, or lose, there was a post-mortem to be had.