Welcome to an article about Colm Cooper's Testimonial, the dinner which has led to the greatest public rupture and fall-out since Game of Thrones' Red Wedding.
The dinner proved to presage the failure of Dr. Crokes' to defend their All-Ireland club title, as they were knocked out of the Munster championship by Cork's Nemo Rangers shortly after Cooper suited up.
In Requiem, the Sunday Independent columnist Eamonn Sweeney penned a kind of tribute to the Gooch's career, bidding farewell to the sweet prince portraying the defeat to Nemo as the moment the light died. But The Dinner could not go unmentioned. To do so, Sweeney also cast Cooper as the latest pure-blooded victim of remorseless capitalism, trying to exculpate him from total blame eloquently if not effectively.
Colm Cooper hasn't seemed like a footballer lately. He has become a living legend, a source of controversy, a fledgling pundit, a chat show guest, a handy target for mean-spirited criticism, an autobiographical subject. You'd have been forgiven for thinking he'd retired altogether.
The guys in the dinner jackets feted him and, in the words of Billy Joel, sat at the bar and put bread in his jar. Though maybe it was the footballer himself who wondered what he was doing there. They told Gooch how great he was and they were right about that.
But all the hoopla, the having to explain himself, the kind of rows he'd have steered away from on the pitch, the serving of those two demanding masters, publicity and posterity, can't have been fun.
They'd have taken it out of anyone, let alone a player whose career had been an object lesson in how to stay away from the off-pitch limelight.
Then, in the dying days of November, he had to leave that world and face up to men who didn't want to praise him or ask his opinion on the state of football or wonder what had been his happiest moment. They just wanted to beat him and his team.
And they did.
This criticism could not escape being carried along in the winds to Kerry, and Marc O'Sé uses his Irish Daily Mail column to do criticise the criticism. O'Sé responds to what he saw as a "poisonous tinge to the critique of Colm Cooper's display in last Sunday's Munster final in one national newspaper".
The piece sought to suggest that Dr Crokes' defeat to Nemo was a reality check for Gooch, who no longer had the stomach for the battle as a result of his being feted at his testimonial.
It was a cheap shot at a player who never stepped back from a battle and who would never be anything less than focused on his job. Sometimes you just do not play well and sometimes you just get beaten by a better team, which Nemo Rangers were last Sunday. All that is fair analysis, but it takes some joining of the dots to link a poor performance on the pitch to a dinner eaten last month, which evidently some who did not even attend have still some trouble digesting.
Are we finished reading about this bloody dinner yet?
O'Sé's full column is in today's paper, in which he also reflects on the legacy of Alan Dillon.
[Sunday Independent; Irish Daily Mail]