Posts Tagged ‘Cavan’

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Pollock – the Antrim Ali

Once in a while there comes along a hero. Muhammed Ali, Brian O’Driscoll, Rylan, Michael Pollock. It’s early days for Pollock. He has a nice soft voice that is a bit Louis Walshish but he can work on that. What he doesn’t need to work on though is his talent. His goal lit up Ireland on a cold Sunday afternoon such was the majestic execution. His celebration will live long in the memory and women swooned as his under-short garments gave him a billowing groin area as he leapt into the Andersonstown air in sheer joy. Yet, there were other heroes too. We’ll come back to Pollock.

Conor Murray deserves a mention. Rumours that his legs had lengthened over the winter by hanging upside-down from a bannister in school was proven in the affirmative as a noticeably taller Murray used his longer limbs to cover more grass than the average man. He scored a rake of points I think and was replaced by Conal Kelly to give the Breffni lads a break. Kelly didn’t disappoint as his baldy complexion created a dazzling experience for the tired and beaten Cavan side under the Casement lights.

Conor Murray, Christmas morning

Conor Murray, Christmas morning

Ryan Murray deserves a mention. The 19-year-old Civil Engineering student at Queen’s University has overcome the expectation of being Conor Murray’s younger brother and established himself as the smallest footballer to score a point for Antrim since Aidan Hamill in 1967. It’s not easy for Ryan. He’s the Phil Neville, the Anton Ferdinand, the Kolo Toure. The brother who has to live up to the lofty expectations of being the brother of a giant.

Ryan's hero

Ryan’s hero

Michael McCann was the McCann we all expect. The All-Antrim hero. The tee-totalling midfielder is the Scholes of Antrim GAA. He never lets you down apart from the random scything tackle. He’s taller than Scholes and doesn’t have red hair.

The game was tit-for-tat early on as Conor Murray notched Antrim’s first point with a 50-yard left footer whilst waving at a “Bukey” in the crowd. Sean McVeigh, from London, Cockneyed over a point from play but was red-carded for his English brogue at full time. One of the turning points was Cavan’s goal from a penalty. Kerr, despite carrying visible winter timber, purposely allowed Cavan to score their goal in an attempt to replicate Ali’s rope-a-dope technique. Cavan’s exuberance at scoring against Kerr was their downfall. They exerted so much energy celebrating that they were left open for the kill. The St Gall’s keeper’s mind-games won the day.

Pollock was the star show. On a day when all six starting forwards scored, he topped the lot. Although he cruelly ribbed a sobbing Niblock before the final whistle for only scoring one point, he deserved his moment. Despite his ill-fitting under-garments and general niceness, he displayed his ruthlessness in scoring the key goal. It will be talked about for years to come and the new Casement bronze statue design may be constructed in his goal-scoring pose.

RATINGS IN THE FORM OF WOLFE TONES SONGS:

C Kerr – YOU’LL NEVER BEAT THE IRISH (7/10)
K O’Boyle – ON THE ONE ROAD (7/10)
P Doherty – THE MEN BEHIND THE WIRE (7/10)
N Delargy – WOMEN OF IRELAND (7/10)
T Scullion – JANEY MAC, I’M NEARLY 40 (7/10)
J Crozier – WE SHALL OVERCOME (8/10)
J Carron – CROPPY BOY (7/10)
S McVeigh NO IRISH NEED APPLY (8/10)
M McCann – GOODBYE MICK (8/10)
C Murray – THE REBEL (8.2/10)
K Niblock – BIG STRONG MAN (7/10)
B Herron – IN BELFAST (7/10)
M Pollock – THE BOLD FENIAN MAN (9.5/10)
M Herron THE GREAT FENIAN RAM (7/10)
R Murray – PADDLE YER OWN CANOE (7.5/10)
Sub: C Kelly – NOT ON LONG ENOUGH TO BE RATED

It’s hard to believe that the time is almost upon us. When I left the balmy shores of Durham I never envisaged the sheer excitement I’d be feeling on a Monday night in mid-May. It’s highly unlikely I’ll experience sleep until the team is announced later in the week. No one can guess what is going on in Bradley’s head apart from the motivational tactics I recently heard of, but more of that later.

I order to settle my nerves and acquaint myself with the whole championship etiquette, I took myself off to Breffni Park yesterday to soak in the occasion. Donegal, the current champions of the Ulster competition, were taking on Cavan. I did a bit of research here and Cavan seem to be a bit like Liverpool. They used to be the kingpins of the country but in recent years have been a bit horrible to say the least. I had a pint in one of the pubs in Cavan town beforehand and asked a couple of the locals why this was. They told me to go home to my own country first of all. After I assured them I was a friend, they asked if I was working for the “brew” because if i was I wouldn’t get out alive. Feeling rather uneasy I finished up my pint in seconds and made my way to the stadium.

The pub in Breffni scared me.

And I wasn’t underwhelmed. I was met with 55-60’000 spectators roaring ferociously at what looked like a warm-up competition between midgets or dwarves from both side. Flares and fireworks were raging through the crowds. I’d never seen the like of this. The Donegal dwarves seemed to win handily enough. I asked a Cavan fan beside me if this was a bad sign. He told me, again, to leave the country before he kicked ‘the hole off me’. It was at this stage that I realised it was their means of small talk. I told him I’d shoot him in the neck if he kept up that talk and he slapped me in the back and said I was a great fellow altogether. I felt I belonged.

Donegal first took to the field, bursting through a paper banner advertising a creamery in Dungloe, like the American footballers. I was amazed at their athleticism as they leapt over the heads of the dwarf team on their way to sit on a bench for a bit of a rest. Cavan, on the other hand, sauntered onto the field looking for loose change on the grass. I did a quick head count just before throw in and reckoned 80’000 filled Breffni. The songs were deafening such as ‘Will Ye Come To The Bower’  and ‘All Kinds of Everything’. It was almost poisonous.

Cavan’s fanatical support.

Donegal won the game 4-19 to 2-22 and deservedly so. McFadden, a brother of the Westlife rebel, scored all of Donegal’s 4-19 in a show of sheer greed and luck. Cavan fought long and hard but were undone by a riot which broke out behind the away goals when someone dropped a fiver, it was reported.

All in all it was a joyous experience and only served to increase my excitement for the fare at Clones next weekend. I’m a lot happier in the knowledge that Antrim will leave no stone unturned. I happened to bump into the Antrim Team Psychologist and he was able to provide me with insider info to pass back to my readership back in Consett. Budley Bradley has ordered him to create a CD of songs to be played on the bus on the way down, one for each player. I didn’t write them all down but these are those I can remember:

1. T. Scullion – Barbie Girl by Aqua

2. Crozier – German National Anthem by the Ex-Nazi Brass Band

3. O’Boyle – How Great Thou Art by Clonard Choir

4. Murray – Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson

5. Loughry – Theme tune from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

6. McBride – Walking In The Air by Aled Jones

7. Neeson – Rocky Album (all of them)

8. Armstrong – Tubthumping by Chumbawamba

9. A Gallagher – Beethoven 9th Symphony (brass)

10. Kerr – Making Your Mind Up – Buck’s Fizz

11. McCann Bros – 500 Miles by The Proclaimers

Talk about a coach that’ll be packed with raw nerve, energy and melodical fanaticism. I’ll be attending Thursday’s training and hope to report from there. Live.

Cavan 0-12 Antrim 4-6

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Big Tom, Patrick Kavanagh, Catriona McKiernan, Patrick McCabe and Sean Quinn. Your boys took one hell of a beating.

This was the day when I knew I’d made the correct decision to abandon my starving and unemployed family in Durham to follow the Saffron Army on their quest to land the title of  Super Champions of Ireland in 2012. When the fixtures were released a few months ago I was excited by this tie. This was Cavan. 10 All-Ireland Finals, even winning one of them in New York. They were the  superpower of world GAA. Little old Antrim with their U21 title from the late 60s should have been on a hiding to nothing. It was Wimbledon v Liverpool ’88 all over again.

When Buster Bradley named his team I was in a state of shock for at least 25 minutes. It appeared that the Crazy Barber had decided to imitate his great hero, Claudio Ranieiri, and tinker with the formation. Gone were a few stalwarts and in came the dregs. Only, by God, they weren’t the dregs.

Playing Aodhan Gallagher in full forward seemed like kamikaze to me. Gallagher is one of those boys who bamboozles the opposition with his searing baldness. I knew straight away who the Milltown chameleon was imitating this week. He arrived on the field with an exaggerated collar in clear Harry Hill manner. He ended the game with a tally of one goal and no points. Since the GAA was formed in 1884, Aodhan Gallagher had never scored a goal. Even in school, my research told me that he was always the last to be picked during break time as scoring goals was something little Kojak didn’t do. His goal was a thing of beauty. He received a long ball on the edge of the square. Not knowing what to do, he soloed the thing towards the sideline and asked Butcher if he should pass or shoot. The Baker told him something I cannot repeat here but, as a result, an enraged Aodhan ran like a horny bull in Lisbon straight towards the Cavan goal, scored, and continued running through the crowd til a steward managed to calm him down by rubbing his head.

Gallagher Does Squats Before Throw In

Jasmine Loughrey was the star of the show. He scored 3-9 from play and 1-2 from placed balls. Some compared his performance to that of George Best against Scotland in Windsor Park but I’ve since seen footage of that game and it’s an inaccurate comparison. This was Maradona v Belgium. Loughrey must be right up there with Bolt, Marty Rogan and Nadal today in the sporting arena of natural greatness. A woman fainted in the Cavan contingent such was the beauty of his 5th goal although it may have been a result of being hit on the head from a Conor Murray 45m free. She was sitting on the half way line. Murray had a fine game otherwise and his impressive torso seemed to annoy Sweeney slightly who was keen to show off his rippling 4-5 pack at every opportunity.

Tomas McCann glided around Cavan like a big geniusy swan. He’s some operator, the sort of fellow you’d like to take home as a present for your wife who’d place him on the edge of the pond with his rod in his hand. Dynamo.

Tomas McCann at home.

Some boy Duffin hit 1-9 but I’m not sure about him. He winked at me afterwards in the toilet. The highlight of the day was Armstrong’s ability to come on after 65 minutes and to leave the field after the final whistle. A massive improvement for the Rossa Rascal. Goalkeeper McSorley will be annoyed about the 12 points. Although no goals passed his way, I couldn’t help but picture the other ‘keeper Chriss Corr stopping a few of the lower angled points with his long arms. Corr once told the Sunday Times that his long arms came from years of hanging from his mother’s bannister, pretending he was a lampshade. McSorley knows what he needs to do.

No more games for a while so time next week to decide on Buster’s Final Five.