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Thursday, 27 March 2014

A bit of Awkwardness on St. Paddys Day!!

No doubt half the country is still recovering from that hectic weekend, no more so than myself, well have a read of this short story, I’m sure its happened to you all at some stage in one way or another.. AWKWARD!!

Last Monday, as you know was Paddy’s day, the greatest session known to man, well I went out Sunday night and did the dog on it, woke up hanging Monday morning and only had one thing ...on my mind ‘da cure’.

So I headed down to one of the pubs in Ashbourne, it was wedged after the local parade, I was sculling pints and singing songs ta beat the band, craic was mighty!!

Anyways, at one stage I went out to the smoking area with the lads to have a fag, now I’m not a smoker but I said I’d have one, I dunno about you, but when you don’t smoke regularly and chance one with a few pints on ya, it blows the absolute facking head off ya, especially when the cigarette you manage to bum, was none other than the dreaded ‘Major’, ya may as well be throwing your lips around the exhaust of a tractor as to smoke one of them yokes ,it’s like inhaling a bonfire with every drag!

After taking a few hefty pulls , I went straight back inside, goosed and extremely light-headed from the nicotine buzz. I spotted this woman at the bar who had her back to me, I was convinced it was my mother, as she was wearing the same top, So I waddled over, not thinking, big smiley stupid drunken head on me, mad for the craic and grabbed her arm “Mon ma, we have a dance, Yeoww ya boya”!!

She turned around, and made eye contact with me, sure jaysus it wasn’t my ma at all, I quickly released her arm, “God, I’m so sorry I thought you were my mother, I do apologise”, she wasn’t too quick to say “ahh its grand”.. as you do during an awkward moment like that! Well To make the situation 10 times worse, wasn’t she a foreign woman that, god love her, hadn’t a sniff of English, she just gave me a look of death. Stuck her nose up to the above ceiling, turned her back and continued to drink her black coffee.

I bowed the head in shame and quickly darted into the jax, looked straight ahead of me and began to call myself “an absolute fucking gobshite” into the mirror!!

I won’t be bumming another ‘green major’ cigarette anytime soon; ya may as well be smoking heroin!

Friday, 14 March 2014

I'll go handy on them "hash cookies" in future !!

The year I was travelling OZ we were told to make sure to go to this place called “nimbin” which is near Byron Bay, we said we’d go for the day to see what the craic was, the trip was $50.We were picked up from our hostel that morning, brought to this famous place, fed and home that eve – standard day trip!

Anyways before we headed off we did some research about this place, apparently it was a stoner’s paradise, no guards within 40 miles of the village and mad aul wans selling weed and “Hash biscuits” on the street. I wasn’t in the humour of smoking the weed, so I said I would go for a couple of the hash biscuits.

On the way down that morning the bus driver warned us only to take half of the cake that these women are selling because it’s very strong stuff!

I ran into one of these mad haters an hour or so before we were departing to head home,

“So how much for these cookies?”

“4 for $30”.. says she, wearing what only can be described as a very woolly curtain, which was wrapped around her whole body and a hat like a crow’s nest on top of her head - da cut of her!

“Grand job!” I says, with an eager and excited head on me!

 So I bought the 4 off her, straight away I horsed one into me, they were rotten, tasted like dry dirt. I waited about a half hour, absolutely no effects,

 “I’m after been codded by the aul biddy’s, these are a hape of shite”.

 So I decided to take another 2 of them, “ Ah I’m a big lad, I’ll be grand”

As we were on the bus home, there wasn’t a single word out of me and I suddenly began to gather this uncontrolled smile on my face, I just could not stop smiling, I’d say I had some mental head on me!

Then a few minutes later my toes and fingers went pure numb, I was in an isolation of utter relaxation,

  “Bejaysus this is mighty stuff” I says to the missus.

Then around 10 minutes later, I’m not sure how or why, but I started nodding away to myself telling the misuses,

“I love this song”

 “What song”.. says she

  “The tune that’s on the radio!!”

 “Rory there is no music on, you mad egg!!”

When she said that to me, I then got woefully paranoid and thought the whole bus was staring at me laughing, I was up the top of the bus and was too scared to turn around and make eye contact with anyone, I just sat there and gazed out the window in a state of total fear and was, to tell you the truth, absolutely fucking terrified of my own shadow, I couldn’t even close my eyes and try sleep cause I was getting a shocking bad dose of the ‘spinnies’ every time I tried that – nightmare!

This went on for the whole bus trip home, it felt like I was on the bus for 3 months and it was just a 45 minute drive! When we got to the hostel, I began to come back to normality and long and behold…. Wasn’t I was fucking starving!!

I got off the bus and headed straight into a chipper. While still smiling like a three quarter,

I ordered about a week’s wages worth of fast food, walked back into my hostel, sat down and ate for 52 minutes solid, didn’t say a word to anyone, just ate and ate and ate!! After my feast I then fell fast asleep for about 16 hours and woke up the next morning fresh as a daisy.

Be god there is a lot to be said about legalising Bob Marley’s favourite past time – Mighty stuff and no hangover !!


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Ahh well, the building sites will have to do so !!

We’ve all experienced a nightmare of a job interview at some stage, am I right!!?  Well below is my story, by god I was grilled, Enjoy!!

Back in 2009 I got an offer I couldn’t refuse, I was gifted a very hefty redundancy from my Employer that I simply couldn’t turn down. So myself and my girlfriend Emma decided to head off and see the world while we had the chance. We had a ball, seen everywhere from Figi to Vegas. After all our adventures travelling we finally settled in Sydney with my sister Carol and her husband till we found our feet.

At this stage the money was starting to run low so we had no choice but to find work, I was working in the Insurance industry at the time. I had no qualifications I just got by being a ‘people’s person’ I suppose. Well I had landed myself an interview with Allianz Insurance, huge company where I felt I could earn big dollars.

So I went and spent a fair few bucks on a custom made suit, I’ve big thighs and an even bigger arse so it was great to finally have a pair of trousers that fitted me properly.

The days leading up to the interview my sister was warning me to be ready for the interview and to do some research on it, but me being a cocky bollox I didn’t do a tap of research  “Don’t worry about it Carol, I’ll be well able to talk the talk, nay a bother ta me”.

The day of the interview came around, I remember it well because it was close to 40 fucking degrees and not a bit of a breeze, I’d of course slept in that morning so I had to run for the 10.30 bus, the interview was due to start at 11. I was sitting on the bus pissing sweat, shirt completely stuck to me, not exactly the greatest start to the day, ah but not to worry, I was going to waltz this interview and be starting on a $50,000 salary the following Monday – piece of cake.

I got to the offices at 11 on the dot, walked up to the receptionist,

“Well how things, my name is Rory, I’m here for an interview”

 “G’day Rory, here is your interview form, please fill it out and hand it back up as soon as you can, because Pauline and Judith are ready to interview you”

“Will do”

Well you would want to have seen the amount of pages I was expected to fill out, nightmare. I had a quick look through it and some of the questions on the sheet I didn’t even know what they meant,

Question 10: Please fill in your below exams results for the following Insurance exams!

Now, not only did I never do any insurance exam in my life, but I couldn’t even name one.

I began to get the feeling that I was way out of my depth and in serious trouble.

After 5 minutes of filling in ‘N/A’ under most questions I felt I’d better hand this form back up to your wan.

“Ok, thanks Rory they are ready to see you in room 4”

I walked in; the room was tiny, so I felt like a giant walking into it. There were two women sitting down ready to interview me, neither of them great looking and they didn’t come across the friendliest, both had very sharp looks on their faces. The air-con in the room seemed to be broken because I was fucking baking and there was no doubt about it that I was already banging of fresh BO from all the sweating I did on the bus earlier.

“Good morning Rory” says one of them, in a sharp Aussie accent!

I bent down a shook both their hands, big sweaty paws on me, “Well ladies, what’s the craic!?” – I got no reply; they were already clearly pissed off with me for some reason.

“So Rory, why should we hire you, what will you bring to the team?”

“Ahhh well I’m a great team player, I’m always there for other people on my team when needed” – the usual bollix you say in interviews.

As I continued to waffle on, I looked at the other aul biddy who was taking notes and I noticed on the form just how bad my handwriting really was, didn’t I go and put down the wrong date on the poxy form due to my panicking.

“So Rory explain to me a scenario where you implemented the insurance act 1984 to solve a problem!?”

I paused for a moment while thinking to myself “Sweet lord of divine jaysus, what in the name of god is she talking about”

“Come again” I muttered, as the sweat began to flow down my back.

She sighed and repeated the question in a much slower and sterner tone of voice, God I knew I was fucked and that my bluffing was going to get me NOWHERE with these two aul bags.

I came out with a brutal answer, along the lines of being honest when you are in the wrong or something pathetic like that, at this stage I began to get light headed and my mind went completely blank!

Then she came out with “Ok Rory, explain to us what benefits of the Insurance Act 1984 can benefit you and Allianz Insurance?”

“Right I’ve had enough” I says to myself, stood up, banged my sweaty head off an above light and said

“Listen ladies you clearly have me sussed, so I won’t waste any more of your time, all the best”.

Left the room, walked by the receptionist and told her I’d nailed the interview and that I’d see her Monday morning…

Needless to say I spend the next 6 months shovelling cement and drinking rotten tae on some Aussie building site !!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Go for the '50/50' balls they say, be grand they say !!!

We have all had our fair share of injuries playing sport, from dodgy ankles to pulled hamstrings. It’s all part and parcel of playing the game. Every now and again you do get a woeful bad injury, a ligament tear or a dislocated shoulder for example. Sure only last weekend, unfortunately for all Kerry fans and GAA fans in general, the great Gooch Cooper fell victim to an awkward challenge, tore his ACL joint that will now leave him supping on Carlsberg and counting his All stars for the rest of the season, depressing that we won’t see his dummy solo followed by a curled point off the inside of his left peg in Croker this summer.     
Well a few years back I suffered a horrible auld injury myself - made absolute shit of my cheek bone!!

I was playing in a run of the mill league game with my club over in TRIMMMMM! It was a very hot sunny day. The sun was beaming above one of the goals making it impossible to see the ball. Any midfielder will tell you that, that it is a nightmare when you are trying to win a kick out. Screaming: “RORYSSSSS BALLL” and you haven’t the foggiest where the ball is in mid-air!
Well, this game was on about 10 minutes and we were up by a couple of points. Our keeper placed the ball on his tee and let rip down the middle. I called for it (I’m the type of midfielder who calls for every ball in sight and might only win half of them), a big awkward lump in other words! So as I called for this ball the sun made complete and utter eye contact with me and I couldn’t see a thing…BANG!!  All I remember is getting off the ground and my opponent saying to me, “Holy Jaysus lad your face”.. ‘huh? what’s wrong!!?’, I turned to another lad and he said the same!

Next our club chairman came over and says “jaysus buuck your cheek bone is broke”. I was then guided off the pitch as I’d some concussion and into the changing room I went. I had a look in the mirror and I’m not messing, my cheekbone was down hugging my Adams apple! “LOVELY” - so it was straight to Navan hospital for me. One of the selectors; a very decent skin from Shhligo said he would bring me in. Now Mick is a legend of a man but didn’t grasp the seriousness of my situation! We got in the car and Mick – being the diehard GAA man he is, had to tune in LMFM radio to listen to another game before we had even left the grounds!! - GAA man to the core. “Take your time there Mick, no panic!!” So we eventually left. I remember just bouncing back and forward in the front seat in desperate pain altogether while Mick was timing red lights to perfection. “Mick, for the love of god will ya put the boot down”.
Everything about the trip to the hospital was torture, from the heat of the sun beaming in on us, to the Sunday drivers out in force, going 29MPH along every poxy road! As we were coming close to Navan, being the situation I was in, by accident didn’t Mick thunder over a ramp and BANG, flat fucking tyre!! “ Ahh jaysus, you have to be kidding me”. And so, we had to pull in to a nearby shop to change the tyre.

Picture this; there was me in the front seat shaking with pain and Mick out changing the tyre, absolutely faccking typical were my thoughts! Mick being the decent sod he is, went into the shop and came back out with a mars bar and a bottle Lucozade, “Now Rory that will keep you going till dinner”!! I could barely open my eyes with the pain, let alone my shattered cheekbone to chew on a mars bar!!!! I would have loved to let rip but I couldn’t because at the end of the day he was helping me out. Eventually we got going again, arriving at Navan hospital a solid 77 minutes after I’d dismantled my cheekbone.  
I tried to give my details to the person at reception but my cheekbone was in that much of a heap I could barley get the sentence out, “Mick will you give my details there, thanks” Mick goes up gives as much details as he could about me and arrives back down to our seats with a glass of water and one and a half panadol!! “Here Rory, they gave me these to ease the pain for you”. Now giving a man with his cheekbone like a scrambled egg, one and a half panadol would be like giving a whale a figroll to satisfy his appetite. “Ahh jaysus Mick have they anything stronger?” he went back up and came back down with 3 panadol!! “Awe lord bless us and save us”.

I remember that casualty room well, full of chaps in all kinds of football gear, everyone as pissed off as each other being there.One lad was giving out stink to his mother, “Jaysus Mammy, my ankle is fecking killing me, I cant move it, its broken, defiantly broken!” .. “Ah Pet, I’m sure you will be ok and will be grand for your school lessons on Monday!!” That actually made me laugh, typical mother thing to say, more concerned about little Jimmy not missing school then the bone in his ankle popping out to say hello to the whole of casualty.

About 2 hours later, while sitting there absolutely starving but couldn’t eat a thing, the Doctor calls me in,
“Hello Sir, what appears to be the problem??” Now I don’t know if he was either drunk blind or both, but for a man who went to college for half his life to ask me that question and I with the cheekbone dismantled, summed up the day I was having!! – Some Cheek!!
Let’s just say it was a very long and painful afternoon below in Navan Hospital.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The day I nearly committed manslaughter just to back a feckin donkey!!

I’m sure there are a few budding gamblers reading this who love a flutter on an auld horse every now and again. Well a couple of years ago the famous Cheltenham festival was on and like most people who love their horses I was stressing over what horses to put my few shillings on. I’d a pain in my hole getting tips off every Tom, Dick and Harry who thought they had the business sussed!

“I’m telling ya Rory, my fathers 2nd cousin sweeps the yard for Mullins once a month and he says your mans a cert!”

“C’mere Rory, you see that horse there!?”... “I do Paddy”... “Well I was told by a good source that he’s absolutely flying below in the yard and won’t be beaten, make sure you don’t tell too many people though because his odds will go to shite”... “No bother Paddy, thanks for that”.

All this general craic does be going on in every pub and bookies up and down the country, ‘tip’ my bollox if you ask me, Just because Tony Martins horse is flying in his yard, what’s to say Noel Meade’s horse in Noels yard that will be running in the same race isn’t in the same kind of form. ‘Pure cowboys Ted’.

Anyways I was very stressed one day; I think it was the 3rd day of the festival. Things weren’t going too well for me to say the least. I’m telling ya, for the life of me I couldn’t back a winner. The jockey bating the horse before they even had a lap of the track done, “look at my horse, been shaken up already, jaysus sake”. The one or two horses were going well for me, leading for the whole race and then absolutely die a death coming up the famous hill “g’wan bate him ruby, go on, ahhh he’s fucking banjoed, feck sake”, the same aul usual bollix when your luck isn’t in.

So there I was sitting at home watching the coverage on RTE, in bad aul form to tell you the truth.
I then got a text off a number I didn’t recognise, the message just read “flying eagle won’t be bet in the 4.10”...nothing else!! I looked at the clock, she read 3.55, “ah shit”, so me and a friend of mine jumped into the motor and flew down the road to get the bet on, both of us knowing well that the horse didn’t stand a chance of winning because of the luck we were having, but sure jaysus it was a ‘tip’ so she had to win !!!

I parked er up outside the bookies in a bus lane and also blocking an entrance to the local pub, while my buddy flew in to get the bet on! I was sitting there saying to myself “thisss gobshite now is probably talking crap to some aul lad and won’t get the bet on.”
Then all of a sudden a bus came along and gave me a beep to get out of the lane…”fucking typical” I says to myself! So I stuck her in reverse, then I just heard a bang at the back of the car and a loud “ahhhh”

I looked in the wing mirror and all I seen was a worn down walking stick going about 6 feet into the air. “O holy god, I’m after killing a poor aul crater”. I jumped out of the motor and there was a man, not too far off his 80th birthday, gradually pealing himself off the ground. ‘My god I’m so sorry sir, are you ok???’

Thank the lord be te jaysus he was ok, a bit shook, but ok. So being in a bit of shock myself, I didn’t know what else to do other than guide the poor owl wounded pensioner into the local bar, sat him down, bought him a straight whiskey and walked back outside. “God I was lucky there” I says to myself!

Sure of course the day I was having, didn’t I come out of the pub to find some dorky aul clown trying to clamp my out of tax car. “Ehhhhh relax there pal, I’m going now!”
Just as I said that my friend came out of the bookies, big thick bulling head on him and says “That poxy horse fell at the last, he was 5 lengths clear coming up to it, ploughed into it and sent McCoy off into the crowd”.

”Ahh for faccckkk sakeee, right enough is enough’, so I moved the car off into a respectable place to keep the clamper man happy, Turned off the phone and joined the poor aul shaken up man, that I’d nearly murdered, on the high stool for a few pints.
I suppose as the famous song goes,

“ma mama told me there will be days like this”

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Not exactly “Sigerson Cup” standard !!

Growing up I was never a great man in school, I often struggled to understand the simple things. Sure even to this day, I find myself under awful pressure trying to identify where to stick “There & Their” into a sentence. Only for spell-check you would be fairly puzzled trying to read my stories. I reckon my aul man must have dropped me when I was baba because that part of my brain has been nonexistent since the get go!

I struggled through both primary and secondary school, ducking and diving out of any homework I got “I’m telling ya teacher, I had it all done and forgot my copy book”.
During my last 2 years of Secondary school, instead of the traditional leaving cert were you are expected to sit 37 exams over 2 weeks and your poor hand bolloxed tired filling the English paper full of waffle, I went for the easier more enjoyable option that is Leaving Cert Applied.

So I basically had nothing but pure craic for my last two years of school and I don’t regret it in the slightest. The only bad thing about it was that there wasn’t a drop of rain in the dessert chance of UCD, DCU, DIT or any of the other big guns entertaining me and my ‘merit’ in LCA.

So, when I left school of course the mother annoyed the life out of me to do something with myself;

“You’re not hanging around this house sticking your head in & out of the fridge all day; you may get a job or go to a college that might take you!”

  “Jaysus ma I’ll sort something out, any chance of tea and toast!!”

Being very into sport I said I would do the ‘fitness instructor’ course in Colaiste Ide, Finglas, even if it was just to keep the parents happy. I arrived in on my first day, wearing the Meath tracksuit, wanting to tell the whole collage, I play for my county. Typical young GAA lad thing to do.

After a few days in collage, I approached my tutor; “What’s the craic with football in this place, when we training?”. He said they fielded a team alright but they were never any good, they’d never won a thing. The year I was there we had 5 or 6 solid players. We had Dublin’s double All Ireland winner and a pure hardy buck; Philly McMahon, along with his club teammate; Ballymun’s Duracell battery Alan Hubbard and a pure talent in St. Vincent’s utility man and Leinster club medal winner Willie Lowry – Willie is a genius at football, I’ve never met a man to take the piss out of opposing players like Wille did. A pure class act!

We also had a couple of Meath minors at the time including my big awkward frame; so I felt that we had the spine of a decent team sorted. I reckoned that we’d give this competition a right good rattle. All we needed to do was gather up 5/6 lads to field a team. Well, you would want to have seen some of the ‘bandits’ we had togging out for us. There were 2 or 3 lads who we thought looked a bit ‘wirey’ and asked them to play” fancy playing a bit of football lad?” “eh, like Soccer” No, Gaelic, the real mans sport

“Ah well I played a bit of GAA in school alright, I wouldn’t be great, but if yis are stuck I’ll play alright”

These type of heads, all heart but wouldn’t have the foggiest what a ‘square ball’ meant.

One lad, woeful sound chap, we used to put the number 15 on his back in every game and ask him to stand in the corner for the hour and try hit a lad with a shoulder if possible. He used to arrive to every game in a pair of summer shorts, jet black ‘Dunnes Stores’ socks, and a pair of them astro runners that you’d buy below at the Fairyhouse market. He also had a pair of glasses on him that were thick enough to survive a smack of a sledge hammer. “I have to wear them Rory, I can’t see a bleedin’ thing without them”. He reminded me of that little chap out of the film “The little giants” were the mother sent him into battle covered head to toe in bubble wrap.

Then there was our north Dublin ‘Intimidator’, he was brought along to give us that rough look, “fuck, these lads will murder us if we act the bollox”. He’d play the game with a jewelry box full of gold on him, from the Nike earrings to the knuckle duster sovereigns, he looked like a lad who would take your head off ya if you asked for a sup of his water bottle, if truth be told he was a gentleman and wouldn’t harm a fly, but he struck a bit of false fear into the opposition so that’s all that mattered!

We defiantly weren’t the only collage who had to round up 15 lads at the last minute to play a game. I remember one day we played a team from up north. We were expecting big hardy brutes, giving the dominance of Ulster football at the time, but no, they were woeful!! I’m still convinced that they were the college soccer team because they were absolutely Cat.

There was this one lad; ah the collar up, socks up and baggy shorts on him. You knew by the head of him he hadn’t the slightest drop of GAA in his blood. Whenever he got a ball he’d throw it on the ground and head for goal. Every time this happened his manager would roar in an outrageously thick Derry accent;

“acccttt pick er up sir, you’re not playing saccer now bhoy”. Philly Mac managed to score 2-4 from play with the number 3 on his back that day. One of the goals he scored he was teed up for a header - that kind of opposition! We’d have been better off playing a game of ‘heads and volleys’ for the hour!

We had great craic playing the matches. Most games, the standard was no better than Junior B, so it was very enjoyable. I remember the semi final of the competition so well. We were a point down with 1 min to go. Lowry ran the pitch and hand passed the ball to our lethal number 15, who palmed it to the net and we’d won! I’ve never seen such a happier lad on a field in all my life, “I love the GAA lads, fookin whopper so it is” he says to us in the dressing rooms after.

We went on to win the all Ireland Division 3 that year, (behind Sigerson & trench cup). It was the most enjoyable few months of football I’ve ever played. I believe our lethal number 15 is still kicking ball for Parnells Junior D team. The likes of him is what really makes the GAA; pure characters!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

There was no such thing as “Tweaked Hammers” or “Tight Groins” back in those days!!

Anyone who is into their Football, and by football I mean Football, not ‘soccer’, will know just how much an inter county footballer’s lifestyle has changed over the last 30 odd years. Nowadays it’s incredible really how much training and time goes into preparing your body to last the pace of 70 minutes in Croker, especially when Stephen Cluxton is the man between the sticks, dictating the pace of the game with his short quick kickouts, “Ah for jaysus sake cluxton, will ya fire one down the middle” says a bolloxed tired imposing midfielder with 5 minutes left on the clock!  

Monday could be a gym session, Tuesday field, - during January/February this tends to be the torture session “I’m telling ya, if you don’t run the 200Meters in under 27 seconds you’re going again!!”, Wednesday gym again, Thursday back out onto the field, Friday, maybe a rest if you’re lucky, and then a game at the weekend. Repeat that cycle week in and week out, I’ll tell you that’s some serious amount of washing for the poor owl mammy’s!!”   

 “Maaa, I have a club game tonight, where’s them shorts??”  

Then on top of that schedule you have to watch every last thing you eat “feck sake ma, I told you not to have sauce with my chicken, too bad for ya, I have to get my body fat down” or “By any chance do we have any green tea in the house?”… “GREEEENN TEA” says the confused looking head on the father of a budding intercounty star/farmer! 

Things where somewhat different back when “men were men” and when there was no such thing as a ‘tight hammer’ or a ‘tweaked groin’!  

Well during the early 80s my father was living in Ferguson Road,Drumcondra, Dublin 9, sharing a house with Offaly legend and GAA great Matt Connor. During this time the faithful supporters were living their glory days and a lot of it was due to Matt’s raw talent between the white lines. The auld lad often told me some great stories about Matt. One story I found really interesting was how Matt trained outside of Eugene McGee’s well ran Offaly camp.

Dad would be sitting on the couch having a cup of scald after work and Matt would come down the stairs wearing an old pair of runners with an O’Neills in his hand, “Joe, I’m running down to Na Fianna’s pitch on Mobi Road to do a few laps and have a kick around, any chance you'd follow me down in a half hour so I can take a few shots on ya?” “No bother  Thresher (as he was known), I’ll be down soon”.  

So off Matt would go running along the roads soloing with his left, then his right, while jinxing in and out of the telephone poles along the footpath! Dad never played football at a top level so he was amazed to see what Matt could do with a ball in hand; the man was a pure genius. Dad often described to me how Matt would place the ball on the edge of the either side line, about 55 to 60 yards out and shout at my aul lad who would be gathering the balls for Matt behind the goals “Right big Joe, left or right peg?? Inside or outside the foot?”. Ahhjaysus whatever Matt, just hurry up ta fuck I’m feckin freezin here. “Right so” says Matt, as he’d swing the ball straight over the black spot with a flick of his left peg!! 

One particular day, Matt asked my Dad to stand in the middle of the goal posts and not to move left or right; “Stand dead still Joe”. While Matt was placing the ball on the penalty spot, and peeking up, looking at dad with deadly concentration on his face, my aul lad was getting very paranoid and felt a bit intimidated. “Matt I’m warning you, if you kick the ball at my bollox or anywhere near it, I’ll give you a kick in the arse!”. “Ha, I won’t horse, don’t worry, now don’t move”.

Matt walked back about three steps, took one last look at his target, and “Bang”

The ball, according to my oul lad simply came at him with a spin and a bend, crashed through a hole in the net that was no bigger than a dinner plate right behind him.  

Dad asked him, “Connor, ya aul shnakke ya! Were you trying to fucking hit me or what!?” Matt replied, “No I had planned to put it between your legs alright but when I noticed the hole in the net behind ya, I thought that would be a better target.”  

My auld man didn’t realise at the time that he was kicking around with one of the greatest players to have graced Croke Park. Dad just thought of him as a friend who “was a bit of craic and handy at the oul football”.  

After the ‘kick abouts’ they would call into the “Cat & Cage” on the way home for a few pints of black. The diehard GAA oul lads at the bar would often ask Matt plenty of questions; “Will Offaly stop Kerry this year Matt?”…. “They will Tommy, if they supply me with enough ball”. All this type of banter that goes on in all pubs around the country.  

There was no such thing as Pilate’s classes, bikram yoga, top class diets, or any of that craic back then, it was just training with your county two nights during the week, a game at the weekend and make a holy show of your friend down on the local GAA pitch on the off days.  

It’s such a pity that this naturally gifted footballer met with a bad car accident which ended his football career at 24 years of age, god knows what he would have went on to achieve in the game. Well my aul lad for one, was delighted to have had the chance to run after many a ball that Matt curled over the black spot below in the Na Fianna Gaa pitch on Mobhi Road. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

The day I was introduced to the fastest field game in the world!!

When I was growing up as a young lad, like most other chaps, I played every sport that came my way. Football, hurling, soccer, golf.. You name it, no such thing as ‘player burn out’ when you’re a fresh gosson!

One day, not long after my 10th birthday all the lads I hung around with were going to sign for the local soccer club ‘Ashbourne United’. So I said I would ask my father to sign the form and pay the joining fee for me. Now my auld man is from a very rural part of Offaly, where it’s nothing but hurling and Football, a place where let’s just say soccer is the forbidden fruit! I doubt half of his local parish have even heard of Lionel Messi, proud GAA countrymen down that neck of the woods, the way it should be in my own opinion. Ah sure I said I would chance my arm anyhow and see what he’d said,

“Daa, all the lads are joining Ashbourne United soccer club, will you sign my form for me? I reckon I’d be handy enough at it, the joining fee is £100!”

“Rory, there isn’t a chance in hell a son of mine is playing a foreign sport, so don’t be annoying me” as he stuck his head back into the latest edition of ‘Irelands own’.

 “ Da, pleaaase”..

 “Rory I’d give you a bottle of whisky and 20 cigarettes before I will let you play soccer, go join the hurling like every normal chap!”..

 “Feck sake da!”

So that was the end of me playing soccer for a few years anyway. I was at the time playing plenty of football for Donaghmore/Ashbourne, we played every Saturday morning in the North County Dublin League (Meath had nothing set up for that age group at the time!)  I loved it. So I decided to take my aul man’s advice and give the small ball game a rattle.  Now you must remember I’m from Meath, so hurling was never that strong, especially during the late 90s when the Royal county footballers were ever present in Croker during the latter end of the Championship. Well myself and 2 of my buddies, whose fathers were big GAA men as well, said we would head down to hurling training one evening with the u10s to see what the craic was.

I remember it well, it was a lovely summers evening, fresh cut grass, nettles all along the side of the pitch just waiting in the long grass to pounce on a young lad who had over hit a sliotar! When we got there we gave our names and were handed a hurl each and told to spread out 40 yards apart and puck the ball to each other. This seemed to come very natural to everyone around us but we were all typical young townie chaps, who were used to playing soccer around by the shops, where the craic was whoever had jumpers on their backs had to sacrifice them as goalposts!

Well we were finding the going very tough, at least two ‘fresh-airs’ before we even connected with the sliotar and even when we did connect, god knows how far the ball would travel, one could go off over a lad’s head and the other would skim off the stick and go about 7 yards in front of you “a feck sake” as you walked up to give it another whack.

This went on for a while and then we were called into a huddle, our manager at the time – ‘Big Pat’, was the biggest brut of a man you can imagine, he was from the heart of Kilkenny, had a voice that would scare the bejesus out of you, he’d a pair of hands on him like two big IKEA frying pans and has never been seen with a clean pair of trousers on - RAW.

“Right lads, we have a few new boys joining the team today, Rory John and Eric, Welcome lads..” At the time we would have been considered the ‘bold boys’ at school so a few lads were a bit intimidated by us showing up.

Pat turns around and says “right men, I need to find a goalie, who wants to play in goals!?” ..Of course nobody put their hand up – sure for the love of god who wanted to be a goalie in hurling, only the maddest of the mad survive between the sticks on a hurling pitch! “Ok so, I’ll do it my way” says Pat, so he picked out the 3 biggest lads in the group, I was one of them, “Right chaps, says he “We have to find a goalie for this team so I need to test yee out” … “holy god what does he mean by that” I says to myself, as I looked on with a dog shit of a hurl in my hand and a Celtic jersey on me.

So this lad called, ‘Mark’ was up first, standing there, big tall gangly gosson, with a pair of Argos shin pads on and an old raggedy aul Wexford jersey on his back. Pat stands about 15 yards out from goals with a Goalies shovel in his hand and 3 sliotars at his feet.

 “Right boys… I’ll hit three balls at ye each and whoever saves the most is our goalie, it’s as simple as that!”

 “Holy mother of god, he can’t be serious” I thought, as I stood in line already starting to regret beginning a hurling career.

So Pat flicked up the first sliotar with his hurl and absolutely launches it at poor owl Mark, Mark dived out of the way and Pat ate the head off him “ lord jayyyysus gosson, you’re meant to save the ball not jump out of the way” he did the same with the next two balls, “Right Mark, well it’s safe to say you won’t be our goalie, stand aside there..” then up stepped Tommy, He did the exact same to Tommy.. “God lads have we any goalies at all?? Did yee ever see Davy Fitz jump out of the way of the ball? Never! Bunch of pansies I have here...” and we all 10 years of age, with barely a hair on our legs!!

“Right, in goals there with ya Rory.” I was shitting it altogether, I had bad asthma at the time and could feel my chest tighten up with nerves, because here I was at my first ever hurling training session and I was being asked to stand in front of a beast of a man with a massive hurl in his hands and I was expected to save the sliotar he was going to launch at my head!

The first two balls I managed to jump out of the way of, but I wasn’t so lucky with the last Sliotar! I didn’t manage to dive out of the way quick enough and it caught me right on my shinbone.. “Ahhh me fecking shin” as I dived onto the ground! Pat stood there with a big grin on his Face and says “Right Young O’ Connor, you’ll be the goalie so!”

After that mini nightmare was over it got worse, Pat then had us paired off in groups of 4, Pulling the shins off each other for the next 15 minutes while shouting at us, “I’m telling yee men, this might be sore now but your legs will learn to get used to wild pulls, so we’ll be more than ready when we come across a dirty shower from north Meath!!”

When that bit of torture was over we spent the last 15 minutes trying to puck the ball over the bar, every one of us absolutely bolloxed from pulling the shins off each other. The session ended soon after that and we all gathered around the back of Pat’s working van as he handed us a bottle of ‘score’ and a bag of ‘Tayto’.

 “There ya go young chaps, great session, twill be the same again next Tuesday evening”.

I’ll tell you if anyone was going to make men out of us it was Big Pat!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Rory’s Royal Roasting!!

I have always been a very keen GAA man; it’s a huge part of my life. When I was a young lad, all I wanted to do was play for the Royal County in Croke Park. I grew up watching Big John McDermott in the middle of the field, he used to pluck balls out of the sky for fun and I always wanted to be him.

Growing up I was always very big for my age, my manager from u10 to u14 had to bring a copy of my birth cert to most matches to prove to the ref and the other team’s manager that I wasn’t a “banger”.

From u14 to pretty much minor football I had it all my own way. If I’m being honest, I was never a great footballer, I was the type of chap that once I’d won a ball I’d hear “Lay it off Rory, lay if off” from the side-line. I could though, catch most kick-outs because I was a foot bigger than anyone around me; I thought this was a ‘piece of piss’ and I was destined for Croker!

Eventually though everyone around me began to naturally grow and I wasn’t as influential as my underage days. I still am an awkward whoor to have around the middle to ‘shake things up’!

In 2008 I was midfield for the Meath u21 team; we got absolutely spanked by Kildare in Navan. I did though, have one of my better outings and was proud of my efforts after the game. In the showers after, like most GAA lads, we tried to forget about the game and spoke about the drinking session we were going to go on, “mon we hit Navan lads, drown the sorrows”. As we headed back into the changing rooms, Colm Coyle (Meath manager at the time) called me over and says “I want you to come in for a training match tomorrow morning with the seniors, you deserve a shot after that performance”.

This was great news, but I was still mad for a few pints with the lads as it was my last year u21. So I said I would go for the famous ‘1 or 2’. Sure of course the craic was ninety and as the night went on I’d say to myself just to justify what I was doing “Sure even if I play a stormer tomorrow, I’m still not going to be on the championship panel so fuck it, I’ll arrive up and do my best”(a woeful attitude altogether). So I ended up getting locked and got a taxi back to Ashbourne about 4am, absolutely mouldy drunk!

The next morning I woke up on my couch in an awful heap. I just heard my doorbell ring, the mother answered it, came into the back room and says “Cormac is at the door (Cormac was a fellow clubman on the Meath team at the time) “What does he want..” says I.. “You have a game don’t you??” .. “OH SHITTTE, I do”!!

So I jumped in the car, still in the jeans and shirt from the night before “where’s your gear!?” asked one of the lads in the back seat, “awe boys I can’t play I’m in an awful way, I wouldn’t run up the stairs right now. I’ll just say one of the Skyrne lads were meant to pick it up for me and they forgot”. – Such a brutal excuse!

So we got to the pitch, late of course, most of the panel were out on the field warming up. I’d got sick out the window on the way down to Navan so I was as white as a ghost getting out of the car. Tommy Dowd (Meath Legend, was a selector at the time) took one look at me and says in a pure thick Meath accent “You’re soooome cowboy O’ Connor” and burst out laughing.

I strutted into the changing room, with the stamp from the nightclub clearly visible on my hand and stuttered my woeful excuse to a dead wise Colm Coyle. I thought being size 13 in boots that I would have been safe enough that nobody would have spare boots of that calibre, so I was thinking that I was going to be sitting in the dugout having the bit of craic during the game and let my hangover pass by comfortably.

But no, just my luck up perked an excited Mark Ward (Meath Midfielder at the time) “jaysus Rory, I have a spare pair of 13s in my bag here, you can wear them!” he knowing well the state I was in – da bollix!

“Ah jaysus thanks Wardy, you’re such a gentleman!!” I then got a pair of socks and size 34 shorts off another lad, I’m size 38 at best, so they were completely bet onto me! So off I headed out onto the pitch to join the warm up; looking like a chap they had dragged in off the street to make up the numbers. I was marking Nigel Crawford and I never got such a roasting in all my life, I was calling for kickouts and jumping about 10 minutes too early. The game was a complete disaster and an utter blur!!

After the game as we were jogging from side-line to side-line to warm down, I had to pull up along the railings and put the fingers down the throat. Anthony Moyles, Meath captain at the time walked by with a look of utter disgust on his face, shook his head and pointed at me saying "that is what is wrong with Meath football right there". I was in such a heap down on my hunkers that I couldn't even feel ashamed; I just stuck the fingers back down the throat again to get the last of the Navan Supermacs out of my system.

When I was eventually done getting sick, I didn’t even bother my hole having a shower; I just jumped into Cormac’s car, sat there dirty and freezing, waiting on the lads to come out so we could go home ta fack!

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t too surprised that I didn’t get a call back to training the following Tuesday – nor play another game for the Royal county!!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Sure tis no wonder it took me 3 attempts to pass my driving test…

Everyone has been on family holidays down through the years, they are great, especially when your 10 and you just spend the two weeks jumping in and out of the pool, drinking gallons of coke, orange and 7up, while annoying the life out of your aul lad every second you get “ Da, watch me do this dive into the pool”.. “Da, will you play table tennis with me!?”.. “Da, will you buy me a ball for the pool!?”.

Well in 1996 we jetted off to Santa Ponsa(wouldn’t be like us Irish to go their during the 90s) for a 2 week holiday. Myself, the mother, the Father and my older sister Carol. We were having a great holiday, sun was beaming every day, we had met plenty of sound folk around the pool to have the craic with and the entertainment at night was brilliant. One of the lads I palled around with at the pool had been to this top class park the day before, he said it was unreal, it had an arcade room full of the best of the best video games, it had a class big snooker area and it had GO KARTS!

So for the next 3 days I plagued the aul man to bring me to this park, “ Daaaa pleaseee” .. “No Rory, go play in the pool their like a good chap and don’t be annoying me”.. Well I kept at it and at it until eventually he gave in.. “ok ok, I’ll bring you tomorrow, just give me peace for the rest of today. “yeoooww” I shouted as I did a big ’bomb’ into the pool and drowned half the people who were sun bathing, “ Jaysus Margaret, what was that!?” says one man who had the ear phones in and got a right drop of water on his forehead.

So the next day myself and the father headed off to the park while the two women stayed by the pool and did what every woman loves to do – read books and try their very best to get a tan! The last thing I do remember my ma saying was “Joe, make sure he doesn’t get on anything to mad, you know what he’s like!!” and off we went.

We got to the park after 20 minutes or so, I was uncontrollably excited. “Da, can I go on this, da, can we do that”.. “Settle down now Rory or we’ll go home” !!

I went on a few different things in the park, was having a great day. I then asked can I go on the go-karts, at first he said “nooo way Rory, your far too young for them and your mother would kill me!” But like most fathers after minutes of pure harassing him, he eventually gave in. “Right ok, but just take er handy, these are fast!”

So I put on my helmet and got aboard the go kart – now if you don’t know me, when I was a young lad, I was desperately overgrown for my age, awful big gosson, so the Spanish people running this Go-kart business, well I’d imagine they thought I was at least 16, so they didn’t bother explaining to much to me on how the motor worked, or the possible dangers!!

The truth is folks, I was terrified deep down getting on the Go kart, but I didn’t want to let onto the father that I was a complete nervous wreck so I just went for it anyway. So there I was doing a couple of laps of the track at my own comfortable pace – about 9 miles an hour. I was getting lapped over and over again by the other people around me; I didn’t care though because I felt 10 feet tall. Then at one stage I just heard the aul man shout from the crowd “Mon Rory, give er a bit of welly…put the boot down Schumacher!!” and sure so I did, Well as god is my judge nothing could have prepared my poor father for what was about to happen!!

As requested by the big man I put the boot to the floor, the car shot off and straight away I knew I was facked. With the size 11 loafers I had at the time didn’t my lanky toes get caught and I couldn’t slow down…”Ahhhh, daddddyyyy” and what happened, I completely bulldozed straight through the tires that outlined the track and was heading straight towards a gang of aul wans who were having their afternoon tea.

As this Go Kart was heading towards the crowd of people my aul man was running behind me shouting “Holy god RORRRYYY, take your foot off the peddle” but sure I was in that much shock my body was frozen, luckily enough I had the small bit of cop on to turn the wheel away from the group of terrified women and crashed into a hape of tables and chairs where luckily nobody was sitting.

The whole eating area came to a standstill, every single person gawking over at me upside down in the Go-kart which had a tire hanging out the back of it, about 4 chairs on top of me and smoke coming out of all angles!! Dad ran straight over to the cart to see if I was still alive, I was thank god, so he picked me up, me wearing my fake Man Utd jersey which I had bought off the dell boys down the beach the day before. He then brought me into get ‘doctored up’ by the parks first aid team. I was grand just a few scratches and that, luckily enough!

So when we left the emergency area, the aul lad called me aside and said “now Rory, we can’t tell your mother about this because.. Well, I won’t be in her good books for a long time, put it that way”.

I says, “ok Da” so he bought me an ice cream to calm my nerves. So there I was a few minutes later going around on a Ferris wheel, still shaking with fear, while eating my Cornetto Ice-cream and being surrounded by kids no older than 5.

I think me and the aul man couldn't have been happier!!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Ah, The 1st of January…

Right, come on now folks, raise your hand if you are after waking up this morning hung over to bits for the 19th time in the past 25 days!!? “a me fookin head” !!

No doubt your first thoughts were “awe god not again! That’s me, No more drinking or smoking for at least 4 weeks.. I feel absolutely cat!”

And so like the rest of the nation you will probably spend some part of today dragging your weary body up to the bottle bank with a life supply of empty cans and bottles, no doubt spill a bit of Bulmer’s on yourself while throwing them into the container “fuck ya anyway Tommy not finishing your cans, ya nuisance!”

You’ll then arrive back home, grab a black bag from the press and walk around the house throwing everything and anything that’s nice to nibble on into it - the Pringles, the box of foxes biscuits, the last few sweets in the tin of roses and straight out to the wheelie bin the lot of them will go!!

Awe sure you will no doubt attack the fruit, that’s been sitting in the fruit bowl since the first week of December, which by now has cobwebs on it and gone a dirty brown colour. You will lorry them out into the bin as well.

You’ll come back into the house, sit down on the couch and say to yourself “my god I feel crap and so unhealthy” around then you’ll probably pick up your laptop or phone, log onto Google and search for the nearest gym to you for a years direct debit membership, and pay big bucks for it!

My advice to you would be DON’T BOTHER YOUR HOLE, because come mid February you will have a pain in your bollix with the gym and be ragging with yourself for signing up to a 1 years membership. So just go for a walk or run over the next week or so to clear the body and mind, consider the gym membership in mid January when all the demons have left the system.

Awe for sure January is a rotten aul month, no doubt about it, but once these few weeks are over and we run into February we can start to get the ball rolling again and enjoy the better things in life. So until then, sit back, relax, light the fire and recharge the batteries.

All the best for 2014, please keep sharing the page for me and stay tuned for some seriousssss craic !!