Archive for the ‘Tipperary’ Category

That’s like a second family loss in a week. Having finally got over the elimination of my dearly beloved Antrim last week, I’ve now gone and lost her all over again as Tom Hanks said in Cast Away. Tipp were starting to feel like a second home. I’d watched them go toe-to-toe with Antrim twice and now they’ve been put out to graze for the rest of the year by the mighty men from Down. I didn’t shed a tear but it was a sad farewell to that famous war song. Antrim have wafted from my heart.

Yet, I may be in love again. Down. It’s a defeatist name but boy do they play out the oxymoron value here. There’s nothing down about Down. It’s like calling Messi, Lionel Dowie. There’s nothing Iain-ish about the little Argentinean magician. When I experienced that black and red burst on to the field for the first time, their chests puffed like a thousand big puffy things, I knew I’d found the one. I’m sorry, Antrim. You’re cold in the grave and I’m courting the blond buxom bimbo from two doors down. Cold but clinical. I can’t resist. I’m a Durham man and there’s something regal about the men from Down. Something Cromwellian.

Down. Definitely not Dowie.

A look through the team sheet and you could not be anything but impressed. Flash Gordon. Flash effing Gordon. If ever I experienced manlove it was then. He lined out at full back but it was full frontal I was imagining. I make no apology for saying that. I’m sorry but it stirred something in me I never thought I’d possess in the company of men only. That was something else I tell you. Like a re-awakening. He ran the show. A man mountain with lava spewing from his nostrils. Add to that, wait for it, Buck Rogers. BUCK bloody ROGERS! The man lorded it in midfield and won the hearts of a nation. Never did one man do anything so mindnumblingly complete as Buck did last weekend. At one stage he leapt like the proverbial salmon. All scaly and fishy but metres into the air. He was the Maradona against Shilton.

Down midfielder Rogers.

The main man seemed to be Benny Hill, a rotund, comical looking figure but lethal finisher, a bit in the mould of Mick Quinn or Gazza at the end of his career. He scored 1-10 without breaking sweat. I’m sure when he came out for the second half he had mayonnaise down the front of his jersey and seemed to be picking stuff from his teeth with a toothpick. He showed Tipp no respect and why should he. A turkey shoot with big 20 foot turkeys in a small cup. It appeared to me that, such is his genius, the management turn a blind eye to his KFC half-time tradition. They also have a couple of men under 4 foot in attack under the names of Laverty and Poland. They’re like two magically talented oompa Loompas. They’d run under the legs of the Tipp defenders singing little inky ditties.

Poland, Laverty and wee James.

Down won well, the players ole-ing the last few minutes amongst themselves. I’d never seen that before.

It’s early days but I’m off to see them play Mayo, a team that’ll surely put the hunger again in young Hill.


“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Winston a Saff?

When Churchill came out with those words I’m not sure he was thinking about the Butcher Bradley’s Saffrons, but he just as well might have been. The journey has ended. From that first game which ended in a defeat to Fermanagh on a cold bitter night when a pre-diet Jan Molby ran riot, to that crucial final fling in Thurles last weekend, it has been a mighty, mighty ride. How can I forget the highs of turning over Sligo, Tipp and Offaly in succession as Antrim began their league campaign in a blaze of glory. Oh how we dreamed. I pictured Loughrey parading through Portglenone on the back of a transit van in late September and appearing stocious on Newsline. We had the heartbreaking defeat to Monaghan – a game which could easily have been the catapult to another Ulster final. The glorious victory over Galway, heralding Antrim’s biggest scalp in half a century. It had to end sometime and when that final McCann shot tailed off in the final seconds last Saturday, all that was left was emptiness. The dark abyss of club football in Ahoghill.

Ahoghill in late August

We never really got going. Tipperary emerged from their changing rooms to the theme tune of Jaws, signalling a sinister determination to succeed that day. They were men possessed. During the warm-up they displayed a new level of preparation never seen before on grass in Ireland. Their manager set out 15 squares on the field in which two players boxed each other, bare-knuckle, with no discernible Queensbury Rules applied. After three rounds of that, he made his assistant bring out a selection of mini-wire meshes in sandwich shape which all 30 players were made to chew on and swallow. Anyone who didn’t follow this through was made to do a plethora of press-ups with the heftiest women in Tipperary parking their arses on the poor lad’s back. It was mental  really. I caught Baker looking over at these goings-on and uttering to Adams “That’s mad stuff, so it is.”

Tipp ‘Keeper before throw-in

I think the sight of what was going on up the other end of the field un-nerved the more civilised Antrim side and it was reflected in their play. Wides were the story of the day. I’m not going to name players today who maybe didn’t play as well because they don’t deserve it as they all sent Galway home with aplomb last week. But one fellow hit one so badly it just sailed back over his own head much to the annoyance of Baker who was doing the ‘you’re dead’ throat-slitting gesture. It just wasn’t meant to be. Loughrey tried to gee up his troops and sent over two points from inside his own 45 but it was swimming against the tide.

Tomas McCann did knock a couple over but I’m 99% sure he also missed a couple of frees because of the pressure being exerted on him by the foreign women who ran up and down the stands directly in line with any run Tomas made. It was some sight but, as with being a newly-wed, he had to ignore the blatant sexual tension emanating from the Lebanese women stand. Although Antrim went toe-to-toe with the home side in the second half, you just knew it wasn’t to be their day especially when McDonagh’s togs split in the second half and he asked for a replacement pair. Baker forgot to pack a spare and, with the bench failing to part with theirs, he had to wear a camogie skirt for the remaining 15 minutes. It was very off-putting for the Antrim lads waiting on the breaking ball as they had to view Simon sail in their Tipperary air, from below.

McDonagh has taken a liking to it

When the final whistle sounded, the saffron thousands gave a 45-minute standing ovation and chanted all types of songs like ‘I’ll Tell My Ma’ and ‘Mickey Marley’s Roundabout’. It brought a tear to the eye of most.

That leaves me in a bit of a quandary now as my visa doesn’t run out until the day after the All-Ireland Final. I have decided to take it a weekend at a time and follow some game, starting with the Tipp/Down game this weekend. The Saffrons may be gone but they’ll live long in the heart. And next year, who knows? We might be discussing potential All-Stars in Raffo’s. Baker did it his way.


Posted: July 19, 2012 in Tipperary
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Up to mighty Belfast
Came a Saffron one day.
As the streets are paved with gold
Sure, everyone was gay,
Singing songs of Falls Park,
Milltown and Ballyclare,
Till Paddy got excited,
Then he shouted to them there:

It’s a long way to Tipperary,
It’s a long way to go.
It’s a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye, Ballycastle,
Farewell Lurganure!
It’s a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart’s right there.

Paddy wrote a letter
To his Crumlin Molly-O,
Saying, “Should you not receive it,
Write and let me know!”
“If I make mistakes in spelling,
Molly, dear,” said he,
“Remember, it’s the pen that’s bad,
Don’t lay the blame on me!

It’s a long way to Tipperary,
It’s a long way to go.
It’s a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye, Ballycastle
Farewell, Lurganure!
It’s a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart’s right there.

Molly wrote a neat reply
To Irish Paddy-O,
Saying Mike Maloney
Wants to marry me, and so
Leave the Falls and Cargin
Or you’ll be to blame,
For love has fairly drove me silly:
Hoping you’re the same!

It’s a long way to Tipperary,
It’s a long way to go.
It’s a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye, Ballycastle,
Farewell, Lurganure!
It’s a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart’s right there.

C’mon Antrim te feck!