Antrim Footballers’ Day Off. Portrush Here We Come!

Posted: March 26, 2013 in Antrim, Meath
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Frank Dawson didn’t sit at home scratching his arse last Sunday whilst contemplating how to keep his Saffrons in the third division. When the snow began to fall on Friday morning, the far-sighted bainisteoir phoned up Barry’s in Portrush to privately book the amusement park for the whole of Sunday. That’s the kind of man he is. Always thinking. Pushing boundaries. Harassing funfair organisers. Visionary.


As a media man, I managed to wing a spot on the bus. I have this year-long deal with the Antrim County Board which enables me to gain access to the squad 24/7 in return for a top quality documentary at the end of the year which I hope will debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. It was intriguing watching the bus dynamics. You had the boys at the front of the bus who’d probably never been on a bus before. Remote lads like Sean McVeigh, Tony Scullion and Tomas McCann sat on the front seats, wide eyed at the big journey they were about to embark upon. I think I heard Scullion call a family member to simply say he was sitting on the bus in the front seat. God bless him. McCann seemed to get sick half way up the M2 from all the Haribos.

Club Antrim supplied the bus

Club Antrim supplied the bus

The back seat was for the jokers and card players. McClean wedgied Niblock. Pollock drew a rude organ on Doherty whilst the Rasharkin man dozed. Kerr and Finucane did the Times Cryptic Crossword together, in their gloves and tights.

Despite sub-zero conditions and a heavy covering of snow, Barry’s were true to their word and had the fairground in perfect working order, although I detected a slight annoyance from the shivering employees. It was a joy to behold to see the Murray brothers run straight for the children’s ghost train, using up four of their allotted 10 tokens. The screams from the Lamh Dhearg brothers as the train made its way around the course at 1mph will live long in the memory as will the photo taken when they eventually emerged with Ryan being tightly cradled by his big brother. That’s bonding, Hannahstown style.

Conor Murray, post train

Conor Murray, post train

The Herron brothers, determined to live up to their hardman reputations, had two goes on the Turtle Splash. Brendan even had his arms in the air the second time, the mad bastard. Kerr and Finucane spent much of the day wasting their tokens eating candyfloss and chatting about literature. Paddy Cunningham goaded a few of the lads into the dodgem cars but despite being lined up for a few head-on collisions he kept missing the target, something that didn’t go unnoticed with Dawson and his little green book.

The only man to try the death-defying Looping Star was Justin Crozier. Three times. It was abundantly clear that centre half back was laying down a marker for the captaincy.

After the merriment of the funfair and with a contented glow on their faces, the squad were brought to a fish and chip shop in the town which actually turned out to be a bit of a palaver. Conall Kelly asked for a sausage bap and having been told they’d never heard of such an order before in Portrush, Kelly, aided by Niblock, reacted badly in the heat of the moment. Red sauce was flung. Bad words used. Niblock threatened to shove a chicken nugget up the shop-owner’s ‘neb’. Dawson remained calm, wrote something in his green book and ordered four sausages whilst sending Kerr into the bakery for three floury baps. Cool, calm and collected. Leadership.

Kelly loves his baps

Kelly loves his baps

Finally, Frank brought them to the Langholm for a couple of swift ones before setting back to Belfast after a long and fulfilling day. Things got a little bit heated when Finch and O’Boyle argued over who was the best looking in the squad. The Rossa man reckoned Delargy whilst O’Boyle maintained it was a no-brainer – Anto Healy. Again, Dawson sat back and allowed things to escalate until Finch threatened to glass O’Boyle with Delargy pleading that he wasn’t worth it.

Secret camera of Antrim bust-up over looks

Secret camera of Antrim bust-up over looks

The journey home was reflective with all squad members asked to write down one word to describe the day. Apart from Laverty who wrote ‘dung’, the majority ranged from ‘deadly’ (Crozier/McCann/Scullion) to ‘beezer’ (Kerr, Niblock/Healy). Cunningham sang a lovely rendition of Katy Perry’s Firework in Irish and Finch licked his own elbows before they all settled down for a well-earned nap.

Meath might be in for some tanking.


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