Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

It should have been a feeling of satisfaction. I’ve completed an inter-county season as a supporter starting way back in January on a cold winter’s night in an eerie Enniskillen. I’ve learned a lot (about Ireland) and lost a little (marriage probably). Donegal took home the cup to the province I used as my base. Yet the feeling is quite empty now. I know the hurling replay has yet to come, and I’ll be there, but there’s a fear surrounding me about the abyss after that. I have decided on a new non-sporting mission and, like Crocodile Dundee, it’ll take a bit of getting used to. But more about that anon.

Last weekend saw Donegal take the big one as expected. So confident was I of a victory, I emptied my credit card, savings and Confirmation money and lumped it all on Jimmy’s men to take it home. It’s rude to talk about money but let’s just say that my winnings has enabled me to stay another 12 months in Ireland working on my new project. I’m also sitting on my new Ferrari computer desk seat and I’m wearing a crown. Throwing money away you say but I’m not stupid to wear it around Belfast. I’d be destroyed. No, people buy iPhones etc – I buy a crown. That’s how I roll.

Me, 10 mins ago.

The day itself was a magical experience. In order to avoid the toll lady, I took a plane from Derry to Cork. I asked to go into the cockpit as usual and was quite amazed that I was successful. Luckily, I managed to talk the grumpy pilot into landing in a field near Croke Park to drop me off. It was a fantastic gesture and although I bored him senseless by my tales of what’s been happening in the XFactor and the ingredients to make a sensational Yorkshire Pudding, the surly 50-year old navigator still did me a good turn and threw me off. Threw me off isn’t an exaggeration as the plane never touched the ground but it was close enough. On reaching Dublin, I was swallowed up by genuinely 100% country folk from Mayo and Donegal. Not a streetwise person amongst them. I copped on to this early enough and it did cross my mind to do a bit of pick pocketing as I’d be wise to things like that but it soon dawned on me that these people were tight. They kept their hands in their pockets, jingling and jangling their money. A canny breed afterall.

Arriving in Dublin

The match was a bit disappointing. Donegal scored 5 goals in the first 5 minutes and the rest of the game was just a bit of a farce with Mayo shooting for points just to make the time go by a bit faster before they headed home to batten down the hatches in the windiest county in Ireland. I can understand their rush. I’m sure the players’ heads were wrecked thinking about gates being blown about and maybe even cattle. Talking about cattle and there was a man beside me at the game from Mayo. He seemed a bit unusual with his eyes going in different directions but he told me the following story at half time:

He was at the pub one night last week and decided to walk home as it was a clammy night. It was a good 2 mile walk. After a mile he couldn’t hold on any longer and went to the toilet in a field. It was the number two he had to do. It was fairly dark so he just grabbed a pile of grass and leaves to clean himself and made on his way happily enough. When he got home he went to close the door behind him but it wouldn’t shut. It was still pitch black so he groped behind him to see what was keeping the door open. It happened to be what felt like a rope. He turned around and groped is way to the end of the rope – it was a cow!! Unbelievably, when he cleaned himself in the dark he lifted the end of a rope that was around a cow’s neck and had mistakenly put it up his backside.  Unbelievable series of events.

Midnight walk

Anyway, the celebrations were great to watch although I felt bad about the Mayo people. They seem to lose finals a lot. One boy just said “same oul shite” and they all nodded in agreement. So that’s that. Sam Maguire is in Ulster and my journey is almost at an end.

As I intimated earlier, I’ve decided on a new adventure beginning the first week in October. I am to visit all 32 counties in 32 weeks, taking in the delights and culture of each one over a seven day period, starting in the southernmost corner. I’ll find out what that is when I look at the map. I’m a bit nervous about it with my accent and looks but sure, the abyss is to be embraced sometimes. Hurling next weekend first.

My home for 32 weeks

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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.