Posts Tagged ‘Down’

Mayo 5-29 Down 2-3

Posted: August 7, 2012 in Down, Mayo
Tags: , , , , , ,

There is a time when you have to naval gaze. It seems that when the Gods decide to do their business on me, they do it from a great height. It’s like a triple whammy of a speeding fine followed by a clamping and then having to go to dinner with the mother in law, all in the one day. I was over Antrim. I’d forgotten Tipp. Now, Down had won my affections like nothing before. Puffed with confidence, an array of heroes and the fearsome red and black – how could you not fall for their charms. What’d they do? They completely capitulated to Mayo, a team the experts tell me perform equivalently to England at a major championship after walking the qualification tournament. I liked Mayo. They had a lovely accent and approach to life, like as if everything was a surprise. I witnessed a father buy a son (in Mayo colours) a packet of crisps. The young fellow reacted like he’d been offered the keys to a Lego factory. I’m going to do them a favour and not weigh in behind their cause. They don’t deserve my curse. But…I hope…..

Mayo child loved getting McCoys

It all started so well. Down ran onto the field as the stadium shuddered under the pressure their legendary tree-trunk thighs. Mayo, on the other hand, meekly made their way to the photographers’ bench apparently amazed that they were invited to the whole shebang. I remembered the boy with the crisps and it’s just their way. I saw one of the Mayo forwards smile heartily when he picked up one of the balls thrown towards him, as if he wasn’t expecting one. It does the heart good to watch these Connacht men simply live. I can just imagine them waking up in their beds every morning and shrieking in delight when they look down and it dawns on them that they have hands. I lovely bunch but back to the game.

Mayo man uses phone and laptop for first time.

It was tit-for-tat at the start as goals rained down. Mayo would show their hand, only for Down to trump it. Suddenly, something happened. You know when sometimes you look at a word that you’ve read and written thousands of times in the past and all of a sudden it seems strange to you. The word ‘the’ does it to me often. Even now. Anyway, it suddenly dawned on Down that they couldn’t defend. It completely escaped them. Mayo ran at will like the England rugby blitzing the first year hockey side at a convent sports day. It was hard to watch. Mayo piled on the scores. The Down keeper left the field at half time pushed in a wheelchair such was the pain in his right thigh from kicking out the ball repeatedly for 20 minutes. The upside is that he has a massive right thigh this week and he should put that to good use by entering hopping competitions or something.

Down Keeper used both legs

I don’t know what the Down manager said at half time but it didn’t work. In fact, it got worse. Maybe he told them to give up. The Mayo players were initially slightly amazed that they were allowed to play another half but soon settled down to settle Down. The crowd soon became disinterested in the one way traffic and I could see over in the Hogan Stand a Mayo priest celebrating Mass with about 2000 dedicated followers. In the Cusack a section of Clonduff parishioners were apparently having a heated debate on the bother in Syria with applause ringing out for well-reasoned orations. You have to give it to the Irish. They will find something to do in the face of abject boredom. And that’s what was being dished out on the field. The one-way traffic was so mesmerising I imagined there were 3-4 balls on the field making their way over the black spot above the head of the Down keeper.

Bored Mayo fans celebrate Mass

In the last few minutes one of the Down stars, Benny Hill, scored a Messi-esque goal taking it around 12 Mayo players and slamming it into the top corner. True to form, the Mayo defenders cheered in amazement. The referee put us out of our misery and ended the debates and ecumenical happenings. Mayo go on to play Dublin. I wish them well but, as I said before, I won’t jinx those fine breed of people.

As for me, I’ll throw my lot behind Donegal. I’m sorry Mr McGuinness.

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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.

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.

 

It’s just not Antrim.

I can’t pretend that I was excited by this. All I could think about was Bam Neeson sitting in his settee drinking Coors Lite and doing the Sunday Sport crossword. I managed to reach Enniskillen after much consternation after my satnav refused to work as soon as I hit Fermanagh as no satellite covered that area it seems. I find that hard to take in. They can think about sending a man to Venus but they can’t set up a freaking non-terrestial system in the Erne County. Not that there’s much terra firma in that part of Ireland anyway. I was overtaken by a duck on one of their flooded by-roads.

The duck didn’t like foreigners

The game wasn’t overly memorable. Fermanagh had a man sent off early on for chewing the testicles off Benny Coulter who was posing as a full back in order to claim his GPA money at the end of the year. Down then scored 4 goals in succession, all notched by Paul McComiskey who wasn’t named but I was reliably told it was him by Ross Carr who was sitting beside me.

Fermanagh brought on Seamus Quigley, late on, who got held up in Tempo as the MacDonalds drive-thru was under construction so he had to queue up like the rest of the non-county plebs. He scored 0-2 with his first touch but it was too little too late. Down proceeded to the semis and a meeting with Monaghan (spit).

What did make the day though was a meeting with Ross Carr and his mates. He introduced me to Adrian Logan who just said ‘Tyrone, Tyrone, Dungannon, Tyrone, Tyrone…’ ad nauseum. I also met Jerome Quinn. He seemed angry when I asked if he worked for the BBC and launched into a tirade about some fellow Sidearse. During quiet moments I noticed that Quinn would carress photos in his wallet of two men, muttering ‘I always will’ in romantic tones. Carr told me it was some lads called McHugh and Burns and that they were once the BeeGees of the GAA.

McHugh, Quinn and Burns. Circa 2002.

Carr also introduced me to a few ex-Antrim legends in the crowd. PJ O’Hare was first and his handshake staved my little finger. His son was also there – Darren. He’s an athletic looking fellow, along the lines of Drogba. Kevin McGourty was next – apparently he’s some sort of political guru who’s being scouted by Obama. So he told me anyway.

Anyway, next week on to the Athletic Grounds for a meeting between rivals Armagh and Tyrone. Someone said it’s like a Turkish club derby. Looking forward to it.