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Tensions were said to be high in the McCann abode tonight after Michael McCann returned home after a trip to Armagh with a neck bite.

Neighbours confirmed they heard shouts of ‘dirty hoor’ and ‘Cross player my arse’ from a female voice.

A cousin informed us that McCann is currently sleeping upside-down in his garage and keeps going on about having a ‘deadly thirst’ on him and asking for Ribena or red wine.

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Kerry – Páidí Ó Sé

Posted: December 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Dedicated to

Páidí Ó Sé

 

 

A giant.

Paidi-O-Se-1985-225x225

With the Saffron Army embarking on an intensive training weekend on Bundoran beach doing things like horsey-backs and running up steps a la Rocky in preparation for the visit of Galway next week, something I’ll come back to, I took myself off to the GAA’s Mecca called Croke Park in order to mingle with the Galway people. It’s a quick journey from Belfast to Dublin, halted only by a pay station. I had never encountered one of these on a road before and asked the young lady what the money was for. She told me to ‘put one Euro eighty cents into the bucket and buzz off ye bollocks.’ None the wiser, I arrived in Dublin and managed to park outside a hotel called the Skylon.

Murray and Neeson mid-training.

Luckily there were a few Galway supporters enjoying a pre-match drink in the hotel so I availed of the opportunity to mix with them and gather their thoughts on next-week’s collision in Casement Park. The first couple were a bit suspicious of me I thought. Maybe it was my English accent and the microphone but I was told to ‘fuck away off’ and that I was a ‘typical useless undercover gobshite’. I decided to abandon my microphone and ordered a pint of Guinness, standing at the bar out of harm’s way. As luck had it, an elderly Galway gentleman was doing the same so I took a more informal, casual approach. As it turned out I had to explain to him three times about the game in Casement next week. When it dawned on him it was football and not hurling he snorted and I was swiftly told to ‘fuck away off’ again. This was proving to be a tricky assignment.

The hurling men didn’t like football, or me.

I made my way to the pitch and was overawed by the stadium. It’s a fine building. The game itself was called hurling. It’s a bit like hockey only you can lift the ball with your stick and wallop it up to 100mph in the direction of the opposition’s goals. Galway were playing Kilkenny – the so-called Brazil of hurling, nicknamed the cats. Well, they turned out to be more like pussys as Galway pounded them in the first half, scoring 6 goals in the first 10 mins before easing off. The singing and rejoicing in the stands was something I’d never witnessed before. The Galwegians taunted the Kilkenny followers with a spirited rendition of “What’s New Pussycat?” throughout half time. The Cats’ following retorted with a chanted “To Hell or To Connacht!” which I didn’t understand and, after my earlier attempts to mingle, didn’t ask for help. The second half was a pit of a procession with Galway allowing the Cats to weigh in with a few goals to take the bad look off the thing.

Galway might re-release their version

Although it was a fruitless journey in terms of what I wanted to achieve – mingling with the Galway community – I did enjoy the spectacle of hurling and will have a word with the hockey authorities at home as to how to jazz their game up a bit. Even shoulder charging in polo is something I’d pay to see.

Back to Antrim and I managed to catch the least session on Bundoran beach, hiding between two dunes. The Butcher never ceases to amaze me. He has taken the psychological aspect of game warfare to a new level. In the aftermath of the news that Donegal use codewords on the pitch, The Glenullin Genius has gone a step further – he had all the lads sitting behind desks on the beach learning Latin. When Kerr is kicking left he has to shout ‘reliquit’. ‘Dexter’ is right. ‘Meduis’ is middle. If he’s hitting it short, he bellows ‘brevis’. For Tomas McCann, if he’s not going to pass and wants the glory shot, he has to shout the word for shoot – ‘contendo’. Aodhan Gallagher, if he wants everyone to clear away so he can leap like a salmon and claim the ball, shouts ‘mea’ for mine. If Magill wants to be subbed, he harks ‘substituto’. If McBride wants on he quietly whispers ‘bulla’ for boss. The reason he needs to whisper it is because it also means ‘stud’ which would give the wrong impression to the latin experts in the ground. Sweeney asked if they could dress in Latin costume too. He was thrown into the sea.

How Sweeney wanted the Saffrons to tog out

It’s a match-winner I think.

The draw for the next round of the Antrim odyssey that has the world on tender-hooks saw them paired with Galway at home. The draw was made on an Irish TV station by the name of TV3. I had the misfortune of tuning into it early and was put through 30 mins of sheer misery and doldrumity. I remember watching an episode of Fr Ted and they based a show around a rather unexcitable character called Fr Stone. The presenter here was his long lost twin brother. I nearly lost the will to see who’d draw who live and hoped others would update us all on Twitter but I managed to stick at it.

TV3 build up to the draw

Suddenly Liam O’Neill and his magic balls appeared on the screen and sure enough Antrim were drawn out first to the tumultuous roars of approval of the studio guests and everyone at home. Galway followed and I booed so hard I almost threw up. I then set about finding out a little bit about Galway. It’s a county on the west coast of Ireland, mostly known for its rain, sleet, rocks and lightning. People go there for stag weekends and it seems to be a place of general debauchery and rascality on a grande scale. No one wrote it but it came across to me as a giant drunken brothel of a place. There’ll be no place for that in Casement Park.

How I picture Galway

I then spent the next few hours stalking members of the Antrim squad who were just walking around the roads. I knew I wouldn’t get my hands on the big stars as they were away getting massaged or winding down in their luxurious apartments. I did manage to nab a couple of the squad players.

I asked each one – “What did you think of the draw?” Their responses were as follows:

PATRICK GALLAGHER: “Great. Why are all the barbers closed on a Monday? You wouldn’t have 50p on you?”

SEAN FINCH: “Galway is it. Sure they have to travel the whole way here through rocky roads. Wee buns, Jemmy. Have you a light?”

DEAGHLAN O HAGAN: “He better fcukin pick me. I’ve an aunt there.”

CONAL KELLY: “Happy enough. Just glad it’s not away to Kildare. Can’t be bothered with more plane journeys. Here, I can get you a great deal on adult DVDs. ”

BRIAN NEESON: “I’ll say it one more time mister. Stop following me or it’s Wham Bam time. Why do you keep writing all this shit.”

MICHAEL ARMSTRONG: “Galway? Wow! Can’t believe that off-licence doesn’t open til 12. Gandhi’s flip-flop here.”

PATRICK MCBRIDE: “I should be getting a massage too you know. Corrrrr, check out the pins on that cat over there. What, she’s 55? Still, has a pulse. Where’s my skateboard?”

KEVIN BRADY: “I’m 51 you know.”

So, there you have it – Antrim Gaels are chomping at the bit for the visit of Galway. The westerners may sleep well. I see they’ve already produced a single for the occasion. Rubbish in my opinion.

;tazq

This will be made into a film in years to come. Two words. Tomas McCann. I can see someone like Danny DeVito playing him. Or maybe Dr Evil. Somebody like that. Here is how the story goes. Yesterday, McCann got hitched. That’s right ladies, the man every woman imagines when they read 50 Shades of Grey finally allowed one special lady to spend the rest of her life in a semi-erotic bliss by agreeing to be her groom. Thousands lined the roads leading to the rocket church in Dunmurry for the ceremony. Young buxom women openly cried in a show of emotion not seen since Sean McGreevy took off his top during the Antrim/Down game of 2000. One girl from Glengormley set herself on fire in protest at the wedding. She was doused by a few WKDs nearby. The rest of the Antrim team attended the wedding with all but one drinking shandies. Gallagher stuck to his Islay Whiskey knowing full well that he plays better that way. There was a slightly awkward moment when Baker attempted to dress up as one of the bridesmaids in order to spy on the lads and got away with it until the vows when the priest asked if anyone had any objections. Baker said “No, so we don’t” in a broad mid-Derry accent and scratched his knackers. He was ejected.

Baker.

The plane journey next morning was an eventful journey. Tomas’s wife refused to leave his side, such was the night they’d finally experienced and it was only when Tomas promised her ‘more of the same’ did she relent and allow the main man to join the rest of his teammates on the Easyjet flight with no luggage. Young Kirr the keeper arrived in his pyjamas and holding a Grover teddy but no one seemed to bat an eyelid at that. It turns out he’s not a morning person as opposed to young McBride who was freestyling to a Justin Bieber record being played over the sound system.

Kerr arrived on time

Arriving in London was straight forward apart from young Conor Murray trying to negotiate with duty-free, speaking Spanish and attempting to off-load Euros to purchase a bar of Toblerone. He was saved by Sweeney who explained to security staff that the Lamh Dhearg man had only ventured as far as the Devinish before this weekend. After a few mishaps the team finally made it onto the field at 12.45, 15 minutes before throw-in. Locals were a bit bemused by the Keeper Care’s approach. As with Murray, he hadn’t been out of Ireland before and appeared on the pitch with an oxygen mask for the supposed altitude deficit, factor 40 sun lotion and a translator not unlike Trapattoni’s attractive female sidekick.

The game was rather exciting. Antrim forged ahead when the grandfather of the team, Aodhan Gallagher, scored a screamer from 45m out. This man was here to entertain and he didn’t disappoint. The over 45s in the female section of the crowd swooned, believing that Grant Mitchell was making a new movie. Tomas McCann, despite his night of virginal passion, still had enough energy to score 0-5 in the first half included one effort he headed over, backwards.

Tomas, tired after wedding night.

Cerr, on the other hand, had a torrid first half. He was half-eaten by mosquitoes and agreed to buy a timeshare by someone on the sideline. Two goals flashed past him, the first time that’d happened since he was in p2 when CJ McGourty nutmegged him twice in one move at breaktime. After that it was plain sailing for the Galls shot-stopper as Baker assured him at half time that he could eat more paella and frites after the game. He made a blinding save from some cockney who clearly exclaimed ‘cor blimey!’ in amazement. Antrim won the encounter after a boy called Niblock, who also does news reports for the BBC, scored a wondrous goal from his own half – a real 60m daisy-cutter. This man could be big. There were other good performances too from Mick McCann and Magill. Both lads managed to blag their way into staying over that night as they wanted to take in a ‘show’ involving cross-dressing.

So, onwards to the next round and we find out where the Saffron juggernaut will venture next. Bouncer Bradley has few concerns and hopefully Tomas will have the whole honeymoon craic out of his system. What a win. What a weekend.

Scorers – London: C McCallion, E O’Neill 1-1 each, S McVeigh, M Gottsche (0-1f) 0-2 each, S Kelly (0-1f), M Mullins, J Scanlon 0-1 each
Antrim: T McCann 0-5 (0-4f), K Niblock, A Gallagher 1-0 each, J Loughrey, C Murray 0-2 each, M Sweeney, C Kelly 0-1 each

LONDON: E Byrne; J Scanlon, S McVeigh, D McGreevy; A Gaughan, S Mulligan, S Hannon; L Mulvey, M Gottsche; S Kelly, K O’Leary, M Mullins; C McCallion, E O’Neill, G Crowley.

Subs used: P McGoldrick for Kelly (41 mins), B Osbourne for McGreevy (46), P Finn for Crowley (53), M Carroll for Mullins (64), N Egan for O’Neill (67).

ANTRIM: C Kerr; A Healy, R Johnson, K O’Boyle; T Scullion, J Crozier, J Loughrey; M McCann, A Gallagher; C Murray, M Sweeney, C Kelly; T McCann, M Magill, M Johnston.

Subs used: D O’Hagan for Healy (61 mins), M Armstrong for Murray (69).

Well, the time is almost upon us. My Saffron Heroes are about to board the flight to London and enthrall the English nation with their thrill and spills with a size 5. I’ve been in close contact with many friends and family from home and they reckon this is bigger than the time Halley’s Comet visited our galaxy and threatens to completely overshadow the Jubilee celebrations in the capital.

Antrim – Bigger than Halley

Barman Bradley has finally made contact with me and we’ve drawn up a plan for their few hours on English soil, much of which I cannot relate here due to the increased security of such a visit. All I can release is the information I received from a certain PC Winston in Tottenham who said there were a pile of women in tanning salons in preparation for the ‘fit’ ‘talent’ about to set foot on their land. Unfortunately they won’t be able to press flesh with the likes of the McCanns and Neeson but, as it was with The Beatles, they’ll be glad just to share oxygen with the Antrim Adonises.

The sort of women awaiting Antrim GAA

Last week I made my way to Armagh and took in the Down/Monaghan game. It was a mind-blowing affair with big kicks and high catches. The Monaghan men were big strong glipes and seemed to be more used to running and rolling around on grass. There was a boy called Dick Clerkin and he spent much of the game chewing on the stuff. I could have sworn he’d developed udders by the finish of it. Down were your team of Ronaldos and Darren Fletchers with their silky skills and majestic flicks. The latter won out after the ref had “rode the hole clane off them” as my GAA pal informed me in the toilets in Portadown a few hours later.

Clerkin

Down possessed two of the smallest men I’ve ever set eyes on by the name of Poland and Laverty. Laverty was an unusual looking man with enormous eyebows on such a diminutive figure, reminding me terribly of one of the oompa loompa’s from the factory, without the colouring. He was the star though and was a Mourne Zola. It was a tremendous comeback as Monaghan shot into a 12 point lead after 10 minutes with the balding Finlay notching 0-9 from sideline kicks. Down clawed their way back into the game by ignoring the referee’s whistle and apart from one crazy moment when the ref tricked a Down player into pretending he was going to book him (which was a hilarious practical joke IMO) as Monaghan played a sneaky quick free, they were good value for their 2-19 in the last 15 minutes.

Laverty and Poland warm up

But all of this is a backdrop to the London trip this weekend. There are rumours that Bradley has asked Kerr, Magill and Cunningham to kiss the English ground as they step off the plane in the current spirit of Anglo-Irish relations but it was pulled as he was afraid Kerr would perhaps take a liking to the tarmac.

 

Before I turn to the debacle of Sunday’s match, word has seeped through that the Saffron Army and the Saffron Barmy Army are on their way to London at the end of the month to take on London GAA in the All-Ireland qualifiers. This is a dream come through for me as I spent my teenage years on the streets of London having run away from home in Consett after my Junior results saw me score a B in History. My father had made big sacrifices having left the circus to help me study for the 3rd year exams. His disappointment at not receiving 9 As was unthinkable so I ran off. Anyway, I have it on good authority that the Butching Bradley has already drawn up an itinery for that weekend to make sure they maintain the bonding theme of 2012 which he believes will last a generation. Leaked to me was the following document:

Fri 7pm. Arrive in London.

Fri 8pm. Arrive at bedsits.

Fri 9pm. Visit Comedy Club (or, if booked out, watch The Graham Norton Show on the TV)

Sat 8am. Breakfast.

Sat 9am Still breakfast for Gallagher and Magill.

Sat 10am. Visit Downing street. Petition for better toilets at Casement to be handed directly to the PM or Queen.

Sat 11am. Free time at Pizza Hut.

Sat 1pm. Game

Sat 6pm. Tour of gay district for 7 members. Rest will visit Planet Hollywood.

Sat 8pm. Home.

Antrim lads prepare for London

It’s a well thought out menu and should cater for all tastes. I’m thoroughly looking forward to all of it, as a lurker. The London team will be no walkover. These men have left Ireland and want to leave a mark so their memory is rekindled at home. Put it like this. No goalkeeper from a visiting team has ever returned.

Onto last Sunday and it was a waste of petrol money and time. Donegal were on average 3 stone heavier and 2 foot taller. It was a mismatch of Spain/Ireland proportions and at one time in the second half the crowd were pleading for mercy like in the Gladiator film, with thumbs down. I’ve never seen such humiliation on a football field since the time Ronnie Rosenthal hit the crossbar for Liverpool whilst clean through. I don’t even wish to talk about the game that much. One side were monstrously driven, like a pile of he-mans. The other were lily-livered ballet dancers on the wrong page, like Penfold to maintain that type of theme. It was a murder scene. I never want to witness that again.

Conleth Gilligan on the left.

McFadden scored something like 4 goals and McBrearty who’s only 14 but 17 stone of muscle nabbed 0-12 from his weaker foot. Paddy Bradley tried his best to stir his troops but he’s so old now that he kept going back to the dugouts after a run to get a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit. His brother Eoin looked confused. Permanently.

Next weekend it’s Antrim’s final boot camp for London and the FHM photoshoot. I’m also off to see Down/Monaghan.