Posts Tagged ‘corned beef’


First off, a referee’s job is a thankless task. They say a ref had a good game when he’s not seen at all. What a terrible way to be praised. I’m not here to berate an official. So I’ll leave it at that. But, it was no surprise to hear that the Pope in Rome resigned today. I also left Markievicz Park thinking there was no God.

I travelled down behind the team bus on Saturday evening and the excitement was palpable. Tens of people lined the streets of Belfast, the M1, Enniskillen and Leitrim as we made our way to Sligo town for a night of acclimatising to the new conditions. I must say, this new Dawson regime leaves nothing to chance. One of the pitfalls of playing in foreign places is the food. There was fear of a Delhi-belly condition gripping the Saffrons if they got tore into the local delicacies but that worry was quashed when I saw Dawson and his team handing all players a food-bag to do them over the weekend. It was interesting to see the bags categorised as ‘city lads’ and ‘country buckos’. The city lads had pastie baps, sausage baps, Red Bull, Snickers, fish suppers and spicy McCoys. The country lads had corned beef, liver, beetroot, tea, beef McCoys, wheaten bread and Volvic water. Everyone seemed pleased. There was a slight alarm when Magill and Tomas McCann snuck out at around 10pm. Fearing the worst, Dawson sent out a flare only for the lads to return within the hour with armfuls of spices to bring home for their family. Lovely boys. Dawson, as ruthless as ever, confiscated the spices.


The game was a tale of two halves. Antrim started slowly in general despite early points from the Murray brothers. Conor, the older of the two, seems to have become a focal point in the side, a bit like Trigger out of Only Fools and Horses. After that, the Yeatsmen took over. Whether it was the altitude we don’t know but something went wrong. The referee greeted Sligo’s goal with a moonwalk back to the centre field. I’m sure there was something stuck to his feet though and it wasn’t a celebration dedicated to the King of Pop. 16 points down at half time or so.


Whatever Dawson said at half time, Antrim came out like men possessed in the second half, aided by the mercurial Paddy Handy Cunningham who was making his 133rd appearance from Antrim, having made his debut at the age of 13. Cunningham led Sligo a merry dance and his three points saw Antrim rage back within two points of their rivals. It was then that the ref decided to put an end to this impudence from the Saffrons and sent off Kevin Niblock, the influential but well-read Galls man. No one was really sure what happened but word was filtering through that he criticized WB Yeats’ mythological poetry to the Sligo captain which is an automatic red card.


Antrim refused to lie down and looked to have pulled the masterstroke when the Jonah Lomu-esque Magill entered the fray. His thunderous footsteps shook the decrepit stand. Time stood still though when the referee marched straight over and red-carded him with a cheeky wink.  I suspect he was still cursing away to himself regarding the spices incident from the previous night and the ref interpreted that as a verbal assault on the Sligo air. Who knows? Down to 13 men, they didn’t stand a chance. The fight was lost and the Saffrons were sent home with no points but having won the hearts of many westerners. A moral victory.

The journey home was a tough one for the players although a bittersweet one for Tomas and Magill as Dawson returned their spices with a warning about future purchases away from home.

MATCH RATINGS: (in the form of songs from the 80s)

J Finnucane; – TAKE ON ME  – 7/10

K O’Boyle – IT TAKES TWO – 7/10

P Doherty – JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH – 7.2/10

N Delargy – 99 RED BALLOONS – 7/10

T Scullion – WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE –  7.1/10

J Crozier (0-1) – EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE – 7.7/10

J Laverty –  LIVIN ON A PRAYER – 7/10

M McCann (0-1), OH MICKEY, YOU’RE SO FINE – 8/10

J Carron; JUMP – 7/10

C Murray (0-3), BEAT IT – 8.1/10

K Niblock (0-1), WITH OR WITHOUT YOU – 7/10


R Murray (0-2), SWEET CHILD O MINE – 7.4/10


M Pollock (0-2). ROCK ME AMADEUS – 7.2/10



P Cunningham (0-3), HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF – 8.2/10

C Kelly –  LIKE A VIRGIN – 7.2/10

M Magill. – EVERY ROSE HAS ITS THORN – 10/10