THE TRIP-UP NORTH
DUNGANNON, 4th DECEMBER 1999
The first away match of the AlL to Dungannon and we hoped that, just as we got no booking, for a carriage on the train, on the Friday, we would get none in the match the following day. So we started with a scrum, followed by a maul.
The august representative of St. Mary’s to the Leinster Branch and 1RFU John Hussey, jetted in from London arriving just as the train was departing, to the great relief of his batman John Carvill the renowned rugby analyst and statistician. Emmet had offered to hold up the train (what’s a mere 150 tonnes to Emmet?).
Portadown welcomed us with a blaze of tricolours and an invitation to the Service; Phillip said no thanks, not before the match. The coach met us at the station (no not Popey, you Dopey) and whisked us away. The events of the week had left most Northerners in a daze and so the driver missed the hotel, now not by much mind you. Barney said it showed that although they only had their own government two days, already they had lost their way. We settled in; well some of us that is, for Lord Hussey felt that the hotel was a bit down market, so he took his entourage, including his batman, to a stately home some distance away. The coach driver fared little better here; he got stuck at the house unable to turn. He was a Celtic fan so it was easy to see why.
While the players supped on pasta, power food and karma, the Alikadoos were led forth by President Spring to an hostelry called lndigo, (no, not a cyber cafe). The choice was inspired. The food was excellent and the sociability even better. Needless to say the wine was chosen by his lordship after consultation with the Director of Rugby, who suggested “a nice little number” he’d come across in the Canary lslands. Soon conversation fiowed and so did the wine. The Pres was in superb form joking and chatting away with exPres, Paul Sheeran about old financial times. Our Vice-President was in splendid form, no matter what was said he took no Umbro-age and soon called for the cabaret to commence. He may have been a magic player but even his great games were eclipsed by his performance, he only fell short of changing water into wine, with red lights coming out of his ears and mouth and coins changing denominations by the second. The staff was mesmerised by his fast hands and magical passes, making salt disappear to be later rubbed into wounds. They have since sent a note; to ask him where he put their diningroom. Before the applause had died away Dessie O’Malley, well known PD politician, came on to do his comedy act, and what an act it was, eventually between guffaws •it was realised that he was doing an imitation of Ronnie McBrien. All that was missing was a “Time-Warp” number.
On returning to the mansion his lordship organised a little vintage port and dismissed the servants, except for his batman, JC of course, who continued to administer unto his needs for some hours, before eventually Lord John retired to his four-poster. Dessie fell by the wayside, on return, and Paul also retired early, on strict instructions from Adele. ‘ During all of this time, Barney bewailed the absence of his best from Clark Kent, whose attributes he continually extolled.
Just before the game the travelling supporters arrived led by Pyner, big John O’Donoghue, Paddy Bolger, the entire Bananararna, JB and sons; with Brian Corrigan, Maurice Hogan, (how does he manage it?), Ozzie, Brian Cotter, Des Daly, Arthur Costello and son (the youngest bagman in the club), Torn Holmes, Reggie, NOD(dy), Hoover (damn him), Bobby Coan, JD and Joy Cunningham, Louis McMullan, Mick O’Connor, Frank Kennedy, Chewy, Robbie Lyons, the St. Mary’s women’s army, Paddy McGlade, John Lawlor and Spike, etc., etc.
Kevin Conboy looked awfully nervous and Grimmer looked-that-way before the kick off of, what proved to be a tense, tough struggle. The game was well enough refereed by Pyner, with a little bit of help from Ronnie. Robbie Doddy has grown so tall now that one of the line-outs was called on him by mistake, while Nicky nearly got an intercept. Some of the Mary’s supporters were very impressed by the sporting attitude of the home followers who continuously cheered-on our Gareth.
After the match, it was a joy to see the beaming smiles of big Mai and Springer, while Trevor was leading his team in “The Rare Oul Times”. It has to be recorded that not only were our hosts gracious but also generous, as they sent out food to all the travelling fans, while mingling and chatting.
lt was a happy train home and good to report that the trip up was a trip-up not a slipup.