Diary of an unknown football legend

teds over 75s

He’s going to shoot any minute now …. action from  the All-Priests Over 75s Indoor Challenge match on Craggy Island … or is it from my weekly  five-a-side game?

Saturday, April 30:  When is it over? 

Fifty-eight years old, I’ve wintered way too well and those ankle ligaments strained way back in November are still not right. But it’s just a twinge now and as the evenings begin to stretch the senescent sap is rising in my strung-out hamstrings. My Wednesday night indoor soccer game is calling me back. 

How dignified is it to be still drawn to that draughty old sports hall to run … trundle …  around red-faced and panting and kicking ball for an hour with similarly deluded/evergreen old boys? Sure even my 10-year-old son told me I have no pace. And he wasn’t slagging, merely observing.

When is it over? 

Why am I thinking of Father Ted’s All-Priests Over-75s five-a-side showdown against Rugged Island? 

Continue reading

Machismo virus infecting Gaelic football has become a full-blown disease

The question is: do we really want a cure?

Lee Keegan of Mayo is the filling as he is sandwiched by Dublin’s Brian Fenton and Diarmuid Connolly. Tom Parsons of Mayo waits to pick up the crumbs.

“Garda probe as teen’s leg is broken in ‘sickening GAA match attack’ ’’. 

“Garda investigation after hurler (13) hospitalised in ‘assault by adult male who ran onto pitch’ ”. 

Two headline newspaper stories in just the last week.

Then there were the pre-match busts ups and assorted off-the-ball bumps, thumps and jersey shreddings in last Sunday’s All-Ireland football final. 

No connection? I believe there is.

Gaelic football has been infected for some time by a particularly virulent strain of the man-made virus, Agent Machismo. The symptoms are many and varied. Players infected usually display a reckless regard for authority and safety — their own and others — as they go about harassing, haranguing, intimidating and generally trying to stop an opponent from attempting to play positive football.

Continue reading

Tipperary hurlers lift the Kilkenny curse

Dark forces waged against Premier and me dispelled!

Tipp topNo desire to add to the superlatives after Tipperary’s wonderful double-All-Ireland day yesterday. I’m from Tipp  but didn’t go yesterday because, to be honest, I could not stomach the idea of  standing outside Gills  afterwards yet again nursing a pint and a grievance. Surrounded by magnanimous, but smug Kilkenny friends, gorging routinely on success.

It had got to the stage where logically, I knew Kilkenny were winning because they were the better side, and had the better manager  — the best ever  —  but in the deeper recesses of my psyche, it all seemed to point towards some kind of curse, or existential injustice. Fair play seemed to have left the building and didn’t look like showing up any time soon. I don’t believe in God or any of that, but yet it felt as if if some dark force was operating against, if not my county, then against me. It felt personal.

It’s good to get that weight off our (my) shoulders and out of my brain and I will be able to go to the next episode in this saga – at whatever stage it takes place – and be ready to treat success or defeat with something approaching  equanimity. I will still be pissed off if we lose, mind.

— Enda Sheppard

Shutters go down on transfer window madness

£155m spent on transfer deadline day alone

pogba signs

Paul Pogba signs his £220,000 a week contract with Manchester United after joining them from Juventus for £89 million

Anybody else think the spending during the Premier League summer transfer window just closed was absolutely nuts?  Well, even more nuts than usual.

More than £155 million spent on transfer deadline day alone as the outlay reached a record £1.165 billion? Insane!

Thirteen top-flight teams breaking their own transfer records! Not that the other seven — Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Hull City, Middlesbrough and Manchester City — were idle; Pep Guardiola’s City alone dropped well over £100 million on the likes of young England hope John Stones (£47.5 million from Everton), Leroy Sane (£37 million from Schalke), and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo (£15.4 million from Barca). Crazy! 

Continue reading

England’s bad World Cup day at Belo Horizonte

When the USA part-timers tamed the Three Lions in 1950


Joe Gaetjens, the dishwasher who cleaned out England in Belo Horizonte in 1950

The other morning my 11-year-old son was telling me he read something on Instagram about the USA beating England in soccer once. Was this true, he asked me, incredulously.

Yes, in the World Cup of 1950, in Brazil, I told him, his eyes still not convinced. For me, it’s just one of those never-forgotten facts picked up as a kid devouring soccer magazines like Shoot and Goal. A shock to beat all shocks, mighty England brought down by a bunch of part-timers in Belo Horizonte. Like something out of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Impossible but true.

Even the name of the United States’ goalscorer, Joe Gaetjens, a Haitian dishwasher, as I informed my son, is saved to my memory’s hard-drive.

Continue reading

Ireland a great ould country over there for Euro 2016

Pity the Ireland soccer fans are not so lively at the Aviva 


Why is it Irish fans only seem to get so Irish when we are away and we know the footballing neighbours are watching? And there’s lashings of drink, of course, and we become the Carlsberg ad fans, all good cheer and beery bonhomie as we chant and dance beneath the Eiffel tower of song.

I know it’s fun watching amused gendarmes watching drunken green jerseys wrapped in closed-eye song exchanges with Viking-helmeted Swedes, but wouldn’t it be great if it was like that even some of the time at the Aviva?

I know I’ve sat through enough matches in that concrete bowl where if you hit the atmosphere with a mallet it would not even register on the whackometer, let alone set the decibel bells ringing. And the Mexican waves are only pathetic – even if they are only for fans who care less about the football than the spectacle. Continue reading

An Irishman’s Diary: what Freud taught me about putting

(The Irish Times, March 11th, 2013)Freud putting pic

It was very early and there was no-one else there – the whole manicured green wilderness before me was mine!
I was playing quite well early on and mind and body were light and blithely unencumbered. But around the fourth hole a spectacularly wayward drive followed by a fluffed recovery from the gnarling rough darkened my mood just a bit.

Continue reading