Author Topic: Tom Humphries  (Read 24863 times)

tayto

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Re: Tom Humphries
« Reply #30 on: January 29, 2007, 04:24:24 PM »
Quote
I am amazed he has held down a writing job so long. My opinion.

You're an idiot. My opinion.

ha ha ha

rosnarun

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Re: Tom Humphries
« Reply #31 on: January 29, 2007, 04:32:18 PM »
i agree with the spailpin the greatest heresy of the article is to start the hype yet again on dublins championship campaign on the basis of what?
nobody else being any good !.
 they way he writes off Kerry beggars belief. apart from winning the allireland in their last serious game what exactly have they done wrong?  did the gooch play that badly in the club quater finals or is there something hes not telling us .
 even shoody nurotic old mayo were able to take dublin out despite only paying for about a half an our of the game,
. nope Its just all hype and bull to sell papers in the Capital.
 and as for greenan hes a man who has totally devoted his life to the GAA and though you may not agree with him I think 40 years dedication devseves at least an ear if only for the fact that the good people of ulster have appointed him as their GAA leader
If you make yourself understood, you're always speaking well. Moliere

INDIANA

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Re: Tom Humphries
« Reply #32 on: January 29, 2007, 04:36:05 PM »
i disagree about grennan i think his views actually don't make any sense and harp back to a bygone era that by and large we have left behind us.

Kerry Mike

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Re: Tom Humphries
« Reply #33 on: January 29, 2007, 04:51:17 PM »
Never liked Tom H since he named his book Dublin V Kerry.

Yerra twas a great read but the title would lead the neutral alien, who had just snagged his spaceship off the tip of the spire and landed in Kerrymans Street (O'Connell Street to all Jackeens) and bought a copy of Tomasin's bookeen to believe, twas the Jackeens and not the Kingdom that were somehow the better of the two counties

However wins for Kerry in 1975,1978,1979,1984 & 1985 against wins in 1976 & 1977 between the two tells its own tale. We won't even go there about 2001 and 2004.

Its a small thing that makes me happy in my little backwoods but its always Kerry v Dublin for me.

So there Tom, by the way any chance of an auld ticket for one of the rugby games?
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INDIANA

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Re: Tom Humphries
« Reply #34 on: January 29, 2007, 05:00:31 PM »
i think you'll find if look at the background to the story properly you'd understand it better like:

a- dublin weren't as talented as kerry they were coming from nowhere - it took a special man like heffernan to put them together. that was a story in itself Could O Dwyer have done the same- no.

b-the kerry team is characterised by bitching and in-fighting and the fact most of them hate the sight of each other made it difficult to get them to open up. the dublin team have remained good friends and quite frankly are far more interesting characters in terms of writing about- nobody suggested dublin were a better team.

c the reality is anyone could have trianed that kerry team- very few (if any)could have done what heffo did broke down the barriers of tradition and gave dublin back theirs- kerry would always have been good - in dublin the gaa was on its knees. again nobody suggested dublin were ever the better team.

Mayo4Sam

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Re: Tom Humphries
« Reply #35 on: January 29, 2007, 05:09:24 PM »
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Excuse me for talking while you're trying to interrupt me

AZOffaly

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Re: Tom Humphries
« Reply #36 on: January 29, 2007, 05:09:57 PM »
Indiana, some bold points there, but I'll let Kerry Mike retaliate himself. However .....

Quote
b-the kerry team is characterised by bitching and in-fighting and the fact most of them hate the sight of each other made it difficult to get them to open up. the dublin team have remained good friends and quite frankly are far more interesting characters in terms of writing aboutnobody suggested dublin were a better team.

Whatever about the Kerry team 'hating the sight of each other', which I think is highly debatable, your point that the Dublin team are far more interesting characters is very subjective. Maybe to a Dub, Heffo's Army are very interesting, but to me they are just another successful team from a bygone era.

I think legends like Spillane, O'Shea, O'Sé, Sheehy, Liston, Kennelly, Power, Egan, Nelligan et al are a much more interesting team, full of characters and driven men.

saffron sam2

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Re: Tom Humphries
« Reply #37 on: January 30, 2007, 08:25:45 AM »
Unfortunately, whilst Humphries is without doubt a talented and entertaining writer his stock has gone somewhat in my opinion for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, his book "Laptop Dancing and the Nanny Goat Mambo" was so strewn with basic factual errors that the amount of research done must be questioned.  Secondly, on the eve of the 2003 All-Ireland final he did a disgracefully sanitised full page article the history of the Ballygawley / Glencull split.  The article suggesting that the disagreement was a mere misunderstanding and that resolving the split was the easiet thing ever.  A good journalist would have the balls to write honestly about the story, not to appease the big names being written about.

Howeevr, he is spot on iwth Micheal Grennan.
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rosnarun

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Ballygawley / Glencull
« Reply #38 on: January 30, 2007, 11:22:29 AM »
come on you cant leave it there . i remember the article. thought it was good at the time but now i've only got half the fact . i was particularly interested as our club was involved in a similar stiry at the time and some of the glencul folks cam down to mayo to talk to us at the time as mick loftus was gaa president at the time as well as the leading light in the club we were spillting from.
so come on spill the real story
If you make yourself understood, you're always speaking well. Moliere

saffron sam2

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Re: Ballygawley / Glencull
« Reply #39 on: January 30, 2007, 12:17:03 PM »
come on you cant leave it there . i remember the article. thought it was good at the time but now i've only got half the fact . i was particularly interested as our club was involved in a similar stiry at the time and some of the glencul folks cam down to mayo to talk to us at the time as mick loftus was gaa president at the time as well as the leading light in the club we were spillting from.
so come on spill the real story
You are reading too much into my post.  What I meant that such a split would obviously be very acrimonious. As such Humphries doesn't get to the real depth of the bad feeling - why for example an Errigal Ciaran team (made up exclusively of Glencull players played in Division 3 for a year or why it took the appointment of Fr Hegarty (a fortunate coincidence) to get things moving or did the Glencull boys really support Ballygawley in their Championship matches or why the real momentum only took place after Peter Canavan left the minor ranks and the Tyrone county board could no longer use the Killyclogher loophole.  I will post the article to allow other posters to make up their own minds about the whole episode and the article.
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saffron sam2

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Article In Question
« Reply #40 on: January 30, 2007, 12:18:05 PM »
It's not the prettiest place even when late summer's red sun is sinking beneath the furthest pines and the hum of the day's traffic is waning slowly. It's northern raw and hauntingly dark and the population sprawls like any rural community outgrowing itself. Here, memories of the bad times slash like a razor. In these weeks of happy anticipation even mere conversation can open old wounds.

The big roads of the "wee six" are laid like black ribbons all round and for most of us daytrippers and rubber-necks, Ballygawley is nothing but the name on a large roundabout. Half the directions you've ever received to places north of the border involve a pivotal moment when you take the nth turn off the Ballygawley roundabout. And keep going.

Yet tomorrow is their day. More than it is anybody else's day it is Ballygawley's. For Tyrone, Ballygawley is the pivot. Ballygawley is the source. Football Central.

Ballygawley begat Errigal Ciarán and Errigal Ciarán begat Peter Canavan. Enough for you? Or perhaps Peter Canavan begat Errigal Ciarán. The story of the club is a story of the spirit and the hunger and the passion which has defined Tyrone football for the past few decades as the county has closed in on an All-Ireland. Canavan is at the heart of the creation story.

Press rewind. Hold your finger down for a while . . .

Barry Canavan, the big brother (one of) was in New York. Enjoying life. It was 1982. Hair was bigger. Mankind had yet to discover email. The letters kept arriving from home.

A few years previously Barry and a couple of friends had thought up a way of keeping the parish of Ballygawley entertained during that time of the year when sensible folk stopped playing Gaelic football. The parish of Ballygawley was naturally divided into four segments. The Canavans for instance lived out in Glencull, a large tribe bristling with football promise. Glencull would play the other three areas of the parish in a four way league.

For a little while it was fine and it was fun. Then Barry went to New York and by the time the letters started arriving things had gone awry. Glencull's Mickey Harte had been sent-off one evening in a match against Ballygawley. Fine, but when it came to disciplining Mickey Harte there was no tendency to dispense a quiet slap on the wrist and get on with things.

There were stern elements in the club who were no fans of Mickey. It was proposed that he be given a suspension which would begin at the start of the following football year.

"There were a couple of other things as well," remembers Canavan now. "They ran down Stephen, my brother, and a couple of other players saying they never played as hard for Ballygalwey as for Glencull in this parish league. It was very upsetting for people and Glencull just said no, they weren't going along with it. Cathal (McAnerley) was the chairman at the time. He's from Glencull. They asked him to leave the meeting while they discussed the matter. He said if he left he wouldn't be back. They said 'well we'll see how we go on without you'."

They got on for nine long years without each other. Glencull went their own way. Ballygawley played on without them. Nose separated from face while face pretended not to notice.

"Looking back it's totally ridiculous," says Paudge Quinn, who scored that goal against Kerry in the 1986 All-Ireland final and who grew up on the Ballygawley side of the parish. "People were married through each side, there was cousins involved, families. People avoided each other, didn't talk. I never heard of very unpleasant circumstances but it was just sad. More sad than bitter, if you know the way."

More sad than bitter. Glencull had a field to their name. They played nine-a-side tournaments in the field and lived for nine years on a diet of challenges and tournaments. For nine years Glencull tried to affiliate independently to the GAA and for nine years they failed.

Careers were ruined. Stephen Canavan was a county minor a couple of years before the split. For many in Glencull the All-Ireland final of 1986 was the lowest point of the wilderness years. They knew Stephen Canavan should have been playing, would have been playing. They knew the difference he would have made. Instead Paudge Quinn from Ballygawley scored a goal. Tyrone looked like winning it. They lost it. How twisted were the emotions in Glencull that night.

"It was hard on lots of us," says Barry Canavan, "I didn't lose an intercounty career but I watched Stephen lose his. I was one of the older members. I had a lot of a lot of friends, guys like Paudge Quinn and co who I'd played with in Ballygawley for years. I missed them.

"Peter (Canavan) had no connections with Ballygawley. I had a lot. I'd to go occasionally and watch them play, missing out on championships. We'd have gone to their championship games."

There were strong friendships beforehand and in most cases they survived. Glencull men and Ballygawley men would go out and do the hardest thing. Abstain. They wouldn't talk about football all night. That virtuous abstinence was its own punishment.

Barry Canavan sometimes broke ranks and strolled into Christopher Quinn's pub in town. Crossing the threshold was breaking an unwritten law in Glencull but his old Ballygawley friends and team-mates were in there. He missed them.

"People stuck to their paths. There were fellas who you knew it would be trouble to bump into. You avoided each other."

Nine years. Glencull raised £30,000 in a draw when feelings were high and kept fundraising. They hit the roads. Every Sunday convoys of players headed away to play in games that meant more to them than anyone else.

Fifty or 60 people would come to the occasional meeting to discuss the ongoing campaign for Glencull to go out on their own.

Every year they believed their constituency of about 100 houses was about to become a fully-fledged club. Every year they were rebuffed. They kept on playing for the sheer love of it. Mickey Harte was their best player and their inspiration. They realised after a while that other clubs around Tyrone liked keeping Ballygawley in a weakened state and were most obliging with challenge games and tournament invitations.

What could they do? They played and played. They travelled to Armagh frequently. They reckon they played every single club in Fermanagh. Wherever there was a match they would go to.

Careers drifted past. Pascal Canavan never played under-16 or minor competitions. Peter Canavan missed the entire gamut of underage competitions. Eventually a Tyrone mentor persuaded him to join Killyclogher hurling club as a flag of convenience to get picked for the county minor side. Word of his wonder had spread far and wide by then.

Life in the parish settled back into its routine. Fr McPeake, the parish priest, was inscrutable in showing no interest or favouritism to either side. Occasionally he would make the odd diplomatic foray but at the first feel of resistance he would withdraw again.

In the late 80s several things came together though. Ballygawley Ciaráns reached a county final. They had been threatening to win a title for decades.

"Well, we got to the county final in 1989," says Séamus Horisk, a former chairman, "and it was a huge feat in the sense that - I shouldn't say this, I suppose - those of us at the Ballygawley end only had three quarters of the available squad. We were well beaten by Coalisland. We knew we were still there or thereabouts, though. Maybe it gave people the idea that if we were united . . . I know that on the day in 1989 they were supporting us in Glencull. It was still uncomfortable, there were still arguments and differences of opinion but football was getting people excited again."

Not long afterwards help came from the unlikeliest of sources. From Armagh. Fr Seán Hegarty, who had spent much of the 80s managing the Armagh county team, moved to Ballygawley as a curate.

He saw the lay of the land quickly and identified the most charismatic man on each side of the divide. Barney Horisk in Ballygawley. Seán Canavan, father of all the Canavans, in Glencull.

He chose well. Seán Canavan was a butcher, a part-time farmer and a football addict. His son Peter, the second youngest of 11 kids, was growing to greatness without a stage to express himself on. Barney Horisk was a self employed man running a car washing/valet service from his house on the edge of town on the road to Dungannon. Both were men around whom people gravitated for football conversation and opinion.

In Barney Horisk's house Mondays were for post-mortems, late in the week was for more idle speculation. Young players loved Barney, he would charm management on their behalf, explaining that a young fella needed a holiday and he'd be back for the second round, etc. And they listened to Barney because he might be taking down nets as it grew dark one night and putting out flags while it was still dewy the following morning.

Fr Hegarty worked his magic. In fact, it was easier than that. Everyone you speak to in Ballygawley or Glencull says the same thing.

"He lied to us all," laughs Cathal McAnerly, "but I suppose he has the connections to get himself forgiven." "He spun us all tales" says Paudge Quinn.

"Basically," says Barry Canavan, "he'd go to one end of the parish and announce at a meeting or in company that the fellas at the other end of the parish had had enough, that they were willing to sit down and talk. Then he'd go to the other end of the parish and say the same thing. Nobody was ready to talk really but he got everyone thinking about it."

"I remember," says McAnerly, "that he got us all together in his house and not too late in the evening he said he had an early start the next day and asked us to leave. He said to me afterwards he went upstairs and looked out the window and we were all standing on the road discussing what had gone on and he knew he had us. We were standing there talking together."

People in Glencull understood after 1989 that Ballygawley weren't that far away from a title. People in Ballygawley understood what was missing; The Messiah. He lived in Glencull. His name was Peter Canavan.

Barney Horisk stuck his neck out on the Ballygawley side. Made arguments that made sense. Seán Canavan did likewise on the Glencull side. Meeting followed meeting and in 1991 a new club was born. Errigal Ciarán take their name from the proper name of the parish.

The blue and white of the old club was augmented by a little gold from St Malachy's, as the Glencull end called itself.

The story was just beginning. So too was Peter Canavan's career.

They have five Tyrone championships now. A couple of Ulster titles. A national Féile title at under-14. More kids than they can handle. Three pitches, a stand, floodlights and the star on a county team which is on the cusp of an All-Ireland. They bristle with energy.

"The years of the split were as hard as any individual wanted to make them," says Paudge Quinn. "The fact that we came together showed there was a lot of common ground and respect amongst everybody. That would be the bedrock upon which the club was founded. It would mean an lot to Tyrone football too."

They nailed together an interim committee with four people from each side of the division, Barney Horisk being one of them. Fr Hegarty was the first chairman.

They lost a few pilgrims along the way. Barney Horisk had a very big say in how things went on the Ballygawley side and once he stuck his neck out with the Ballygawley people they followed.

Glencull was a little different, though. A small bit of bad blood lasted to the end. When Glencull had splintered off there were a lot of people who hadn't been strong GAA people who became filled with passion and announced themselves strong GAA people. They were Glencull through and through. GAA was secondary to their passion. They lost some of those folk at reconciliation time. Almost everyone else couldn't wait to play football.

They rebuilt their club wisely, the thought and love that went into its construction served as a warranty against malfunction.

"We took a decision early on that there would be a term of office of three years for any position in the club," says Cathal McAnerly, the current chairman. "That has meant that there is always new energy and new ideas coming through. We haven't gone stale yet."

For the first year they entered three teams into Tyrone competitions. Part of the package was that, for the first season, the Glencull team would be allowed play together in Division Three. They waltzed to the title and surprised themselves by losing in the championship.

The senior championship was something else. They played Dungannon in the first round and through the parish the sense of anticipation made sleep a fugitive.

"What a spirit," says Paudge Quinn "I'll never forget that night. Something totally new. We beat Dungannon 0-13 to 1-5. I've never played on a championship team with so little preparation. We just pulled together, though. Fr Hegarty won the game in the dressingroom that night. It was an unreal feeling, all these people together, so much talent there. It took him to articulate it."

That was the real start. Canavans back playing with Quinns. Memories flooding. When Mickey Harte and Paudge Quinn began playing they were always centre forward and full forward on the same team. Then somebody took nine years away.

Trillick beat them in the next round but that was the start of it though.

Their first county championship came in 1993. They beat Moortown in the final. Peter Canavan captained the club. The following year was sweeter perhaps. Canavan scored 3-27 through the championship. They beat Carrickmore in the final. Nothing better than beating Carrickmore. This time, this period of success and unity, it was better than anything that had gone before.

This is a northern story, however. Grief caught them eventually. Nowhere else is the real world so rudely intrusive. Every innocent thing carries the potential to break your heart and for Errigal Ciarán grief caught up them when they were least expecting it. It caught them on the day they won their first senior league title in 1996.

The circumstances were a little strange, for sure. Firstly, it was December 22nd. The league had mainly been played off early in the year but then due to Tyrone's prolonged involvement on the intercounty scene the competition was shelved and when the county board got around to looking at it again they decided to allow the top six teams to play off for the title.

Given that Carrickmore had been unbeaten all through they were a little sore about this. That the year should come down to a battle with Errigal Ciarán made Carrickmore less happy still.

"It was very late in the year," remembers Séamus Horisk, "and we were playing at a neutral venue, Fintona. We were winning and there was a row with a couple of minutes left. It was a sad day for everyone, including Carrickmore in that they lost a lot of credibility that day. They had a number of players suspended. We had one suspension."

"I was chairman of the club at the time and I watched the match with Barney, my cousin. As I was chairman and we were winning I got up near the end and left the stand and headed towards the pitch for the presentation. Then the row started, a vicious free-for-all."

In fact the game had degenerated into a series of running brawls. Referee Michael Hughes had already sent-off two players from either side when the play resumed late on. Errigal were three points in front and about to take the league title. Then chaos exploded.

"In the middle of it all I saw a commotion on the far stand," says Séamus Horisk. "Somebody came for me. Barney had died during the row. An aneurysm. It has to be said, he was going to take it anyway. It was going to come sooner or later. It wasn't the result of the row. No blame on anyone in the row but it was a sad, sad scene for all involved.

"I could see his son Paul, who had been playing for us, scaling the wires. People all around Barney. It was a black day on all fronts. The row in which a couple of our lads were injured and losing Barney, who would be buried on Christmas Eve, leaving behind a young family."

"Barney Horisk's passing was a huge blow," says Paudge Quinn "You know the sort of club man he was: 'whatever has to be done I'll do it'. That was his view. He'd stand and do umpire one night, take out a reserve team the next day. He lives on through Paul, though. Paul is on the county panel this weekend. A really good footballer who goes on ahead and does his own thing, the right thing."

"It happened on the Sunday before Christmas," says Cathal McAnerly. "It was just devastating for people. His passing left a huge whole in the club."

And this year, just before the Ulster final, another pillar vanished. Seán Canavan. Two great oaks who had bent towards one another suddenly vanished from the local landscape.

"To lose Daddy just before the Ulster final was a bad blow," says Barry Canavan. "He'd been in great form. He was looking forward to this roll that Tyrone are now on. He loved it and he was the top critic as well for the team. More effin' and blinding you have not heard. It was another hard loss for the club to take."

"Those things, those losses, all we've been through," says Cathal McAnerly, "they make us what we are as a club. We've had hard times. Together we've come through them."

They roll on. Every setback and every success making them stronger. They know the purity of that which they love. They know its importance.

"A lot of what we have comes from the leadership of Peter Canavan," says Paudge Quinn. "Club is first. Peter's talent leaves him ahead of everyone. And Pascal there as a leader too. Club. Club. Club. It's always first for them."

A picture comes to mind. A picture drawn from another unhappy day in Errigal Ciarán history but a moment so illustrative of the club and of Canavan that it is worth taking down anyway.

It was the night in 1998 when Peter Canavan's jaw got broken, the night of a challenge match between Errigal Ciarán and Dungannon Clarkes at O'Neill Park in Dungannon. A Tuesday night challenge in early summer with the elements and the mood all wrong.

We needn't lengthen the preamble with excessive detail. The game was ugly. One outbreak of violence ended up with Peter Canavan's jaw being broken in three places.

The game was abandoned. In the shower-room afterwards Dungannon player Barry Gormley suffered an assault and was knocked unconscious. He was lying on the floor, naked, with a broken jaw when other parties arrived on the scene.

Here accounts converge. There was a stand off of naked men. The Dungannon contingent were furious, baying for retribution. Yards away in a circle around Peter Canavan were the entire Errigal Ciarán team. Shoulder to shoulder, ready to go to the end.

"I suppose," says Barry Canavan, "everyone knows that Peter would do anything for anyone in the club. Some clubs have that special thing."

Onwards and upwards. Barney Horisk and Seán Canavan passed away. Fr Hegarty, having come from Armagh, moved on to Carrickmore, from where dispatches say his health hasn't been good.

There are a new generation of Canavans coming through. Barry and Stephen have contributed sons to the under-14 and -16 teams. Pascal has three girls, though, and the club is dabbling in women's football just in case genius lurks among them.

The future dazzles them as they gaze at it from the high ground. Club. Club. Club. They say. First. First. First. The words of Peter.




© The Irish Times 
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J70

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Re: Tom Humphries
« Reply #41 on: January 30, 2007, 01:14:05 PM »
The nine year split was over a parish league sending off? :o

Or is that where Humphries skims over the details?

Losing their GAA-mad father so close to finally winning the All Ireland must have been very hard for the Canavans.

muppet

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Re: Tom Humphries
« Reply #42 on: January 30, 2007, 02:04:55 PM »
 SS firstly I know nothing of the real story and  seeondly am a fan of Humphries but that doesn't mean I always agree with him.

 That article reads very well and I wouldn't get the impression that the problem was easily solved reading it. More that the main players would rather have a nervous joke about the whole thing and be happy to move on. That story probably needs a thesis to cover all the angles while Humphries was given maybe 1,500 words.
MWWSI 2017

Dinny Breen

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seafoid

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Re: Tom Humphries
« Reply #44 on: March 07, 2017, 01:08:12 PM »
2005

https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/belief-and-zeal-are-their-drugs-of-choice-1.460954?mode=amp

LockerRoom: People keep calling me up and asking me what I think of Michelle Smith de Bruin's showing in the recent Marian Finucane Show poll to find the woman, who in the opinion of many of the MF Show Listenership, is the Greatest Irish Woman Living or Dead, Clean or Unclean.  On the one hand, I am perfectly indifferent. Certainly Michelle (and Erik) have done much to promote cheating (aren't those matching his 'n' hers bans so cute) and those within the cheat community must be extraordinarily proud of them both.  We can understand that, so if the listeners of the MF Show want to esteem and exalt a topline drug cheat above somebody like, well say, MF herself, who has made a huge contribution to Irish society, well than surely MF just deserves a better demographic.  On the other hand, I care deeply. I am outraged. I am frightened. Let me tell you about last weekend. It will explain all. I spent the weekend in Cork in the company of the Twenty-Four Greatest Living Irish Women, or the St Vincent's under-14 camogie team, as they are collectively known. We had the weekend of our lives. In fact, we had a holiday from life. If you've never been to an All-Ireland Féile competition you should cleanse your palate of the faintly sour whiskey taste of congealed Smith de Bruin and hightail it to Limerick next weekend to refresh yourself at the football Féile. Restore your faith in sport. The trip comes with guarantees and recommendations. As part of my indentured slavery I have been forced to work at World Cups and Olympics and heavyweight title fights and golf thingies and at all manner of sporting shindigs. I've never enjoyed anything remotely as much as I have enjoyed being immersed in a Féile. I never will.
Anyway you'll be wanting the lowdown. What happened. And why. And how it all ties up. Well. The Twenty-Four Greatest Living Irish Women began the tournament in stately fashion. That is slowly and taking care to preserve their immense dignity.  On Friday they drew a game with our generous hosts in lovely Inniscarra. It was a game which they might have won, but really should have lost. They withdrew to lick their wounds and to perform remarkable and scandalous syncopated samba routines in the Féile Parade through Cork that evening. Saturday is a long, happy blur. A soft dream of a time. The most fun any group of people have ever had in a field in Ballincollig. You'd have to know the Twenty-Four Greatest Living Irish Women for as long as we, their noble mentors/caddies, have, to feel the curious mix of confidence and trepidation with which we travelled early in the morning.  See, The Fab Twenty-Four can be both erratic and brilliant. They can die for each other or they can just be not in the mood for anything except the bartering of gossip with each other. They play and function as an aggregate of their two dozen separate personalities. They are beautiful and wild and basically nuts. Somedays, they are just collectively hormonal and we are afraid to ask them to do anything in case they rage at us.  An example: On Friday, The Grand Chief Agitator (Howya, April), who had a wonderful weekend, incidentally, had sought to initiate a robust debate on team selection during the half-time team talk. This was like moaning about somebody's second-hand smoke as they drew their final puff when lined up against a wall to be shot.  Nevertheless, we knew the Grand Chief Agitator be most peeved about the curtailment of her highly valued right to free speech, even at such an inopportune moment. Discontent can spread quickly among the Fab 24. We had no certainty about how Saturday would unfold.  The Twenty-Four Greatest Living Irish Women set into a pattern early though. They'd take a lead on a team, then let them back into the game and then finish them off. Or else, they'd take a lead on a team, then let them back into the game and then battle like lunatics to prevent the others finishing them off. Whatever, it was a pattern of sorts. Against Ballincollig, we looked condemned to another draw when Gillian Smith (if MF Show listeners had to vote for a heroic Smith, well here was one) scored a goal with just about the last poc of the game. We hugged and danced and asked them what the hell they were thinking of, leaving it so late.  Not long afterwards came the final group game. Toomevara of Tipp. Fortunately, The Twenty-Four Greatest Living Irish Women are no great respecters of reputation and Toomevara of Tipp might as well have been Tooting of Timbuktu for all they knew. The game was one of those great epics which deserved a nationwide audience. The one and only Meltem Yazar thumbed her nose at the aristocracy with a hat-trick of goals, each one more wondrous than the previous one. Then a great big generous dollop of eight minutes of injury time got added, an allotment which the Fab 24 mistakenly took to be time added on especially for Toomevara's benefit. The 24 went into injury time three points ahead. They then conceded about 6,000 frees and watched about 17,000 balls whistle wide. They reached the final whistle two points ahead. And knackered.  There's always at least one moment in a Féile weekend that you'll remember forever. For me there were two. The first came maybe an hour and a half after the Toomevara win. The girls were getting ready for an All-Ireland semi-final. They were drained, emptied, shattered, wrecked. You name it.  So the Mill Lodge Hotel became an army field camp. Twenty-four bodies lay around one end of the restaurant fast asleep in the middle of the afternoon. Legs getting massaged, wounds being tended too, words being whispered, the smell of liniments. The sight of them there, all huddled like a scattering of dropped commas, will stay with me forever.  As will an image from the end of the semi-final, a moment that has burned itself into a perfect picture in my head. The Twenty-Four Greatest Living Irish Women beat Glen Rovers. Beating the Glen meant getting into an All-Ireland final to the girls.  To the rest of us, reared on the legend of how the hurlers of St Vincent's beat Glen Rovers in a famous challenge in December 1953, a game which half-filled Croke Park, it was something even more special. A gang of kids from Marino beating the Glen! I mean, jaysus, that was The Glen!  We were gathering up the sticks and the water bottles and the Fab 24 had paused 40 yards away to clap the Glen girls as they passed out the gate on the other side of the field. Our heroes stood in one long, spread-out line before the distant hill and as we paused our tidying all we could see were these kids whom we've known for half their lives, and beyond them their smiling, clapping parents and fans. There were Vincent's jerseys and flags everywhere. The sun was going down on a postcard day.    here in the crowd, clapping, was Mark Wilson. Mark is our club president and was corner forward on that team that beat the Glen half a century ago. He was a great mentor to me as a kid. That little moment in Ballincollig brings tears to the eyes nearly a week on.  Sunday and an All-Ireland final. You have no idea. Those faces drawn and nervous sitting on the benches in the tiny dressingroom beneath Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Hearing the familiar names called out on the PA. Saying the familiar words to them. Sending them out with hope in the heart. Watching these heroes, one of them your daughter, out on the famous turf.  We were hammered by a brilliant side from Douglas. No complaints. Regrets maybe that we never got to show that we can play a bit, but hey, we shed our tears and we hugged each other and we moved on. Nobody said that they'd get drugs the next time and use them to cheat those wonderful Douglas kids.  On our way out we passed Pauric McDonald and the amazing Kilmacud Crokes hurling side who were just about to win the Division One title. Their journey was as stunning as ours was emotional.  And all those young, keen faces in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Sunday and around Cork last weekend were the only fitting rebuke to a certain proportion of the morally challenged MF Show listenership. So to the Twenty-Four Greatest Living Irish Women, to Ais, to Claire H, to Clairo, to Happy Gilmore, to Ciara O'L, to Niamh (Yo Foxy), to JoJo, to Jessie G, to April F, to Meltem Y, to Gillian S, to Shauna O and to Irene D, to Jenny R, to Leanna B, to Johanna C, to Fionnuala J, to Carol Mc, to Róisín D, to Eimear M, to Kate P, to Orla Mc, to Jodie C and to Molly in da house, love ye all, long may ye run and please don't ever become MF Show phone-in types, or Michelle S de B sports-cheat types.    You're better than that. A million times better. May you stay forever young
"you can try and intimidate us, but f**k youse, we're going to win an All-Ireland anyway"