Drumlin Vs Crumlin: a literary look back at last weekend's NFL game and the Dublin-Monaghan rivalry


Portrait of Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan by E.Garland
Portrait of Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan by E.Garland.

Back in the day, sometime late in the last century, a fellow slipped into a particular London pub, having flown over from America where he was employed in academia. He wished to go to the Gents’ though not for any of the usual reasons.


Once he reached the door, beside which was nailed a plaque on the wall, he briskly took out a small lump hammer which he had secreted about (actually inside) his Crombie coat. He then commenced to whack seven bells, eight gongs and no less than nine chimes out of the same plaque. In a portmanteau word:


-Smithereens.


One was reminded of this episode as one watched the game in Croker unfold through a mist of disbelief on bloody Saturday night. For the plaque’s inscription read: ‘Is iomaí steall a d’fhág sé anseo’. Rinne An Spéirling Ciara na billiúin steallta a fhágáil ar an bpáirc/Storm Ciara deposited a billion drops of extremely wet u-rain on the old stadium.


One of the banners on the Hill might have read ‘The Plaques are back!’ but such was the curtain of mist which shrouded the Rise at the Railway end (which was anything but Mount Merry) it was difficult to make out the slogan on display, at least on GAAGO.


The name of the gold-medal lump-hammer tosser, incidentally, was Dr. Peter Kavanagh and he felt reasonably strongly that his brother, Paddy, was deserving of better than to have his propensity to be caught short in a particular London pub, immortalised.


This is by way of a mazy solo-run to pointing out that the Dublin/Monaghan rivalry did not come down with the latest shower. Back in the fabulous Forties and Fifties in the sky blue corner was slumped Brendan Behan, tumbler-shaped hands in pockets, while in the navy collared and white corner Paddy Kavanagh (see above) had planked himself down, shovel-sized hands on knees.


Call it Crumlin v Drumlin. Maybe even in the frog-friendly foggy weather:


-Castleblaney Faughs v Faughs.


When, on one occasion, BB had spotted a Dublin Corpo worker wheeling a dustcart along Baggot Street, he bellowed out (having first established that his sine qua non was in attendance: an audience): no, not:


- ‘Monaghan, Mon Amour!’


but rather:


-Will youse lookit over there: Kavanagh is moving blooming house again !


Incidentally, one once found oneself in the imposing Victorian house that is 19, Raglan Road at a diplomatic do organised by The Embassy of Mexico whose premises it now is. This is the very abode where PK had pen and inked the lyrics of his signature tune. In fact, the youthful Ambassador asked a group of interested gringos (some of whom actually hadn’t bunked in) to visit the top floor room where the eponymous ballad was composed. One found oneself humming ‘Cielto Lindo’ as we dutifully climbed the winding stairs:


-Och, aye, aye, aye. Canta y no llores.


There have been many instances of the geo-cultural tug o’ war between the two counties: if Paddy Kavanagh colonised Raglan Road then Luke Kelly cancelled that land grab by appropriating the song itself, on Grafton Street of a November day.


(With a bit of luck one will be able to keep this going and get by without writing a match account. Editorial voice from a droughty and drenched Downunder: Get on with it, cobber!)


Monaghan’s initial dominance was book-ended (one of which was called Tarry Flynn, Paul) by two contrasting scores: one close in and early on, the other one late on and far out.


In the opening minute the cool Paddy Cole which Conor ‘Pass’ McManus slotted past Evan Comerford in the Citizen Christy Kane comfort zone (beannacht Dé lena anam) was eerily reminiscent of the DC goal: was this a presentiment of a Washingtonian wash-out?.

Half time – Muineachán: 1-9 Baile Átha Cliath: 0-3


Then, well into the second half, the medium to long range ballistic missile (which is long for ‘ball’) which the second-most celebrated goalkeeper from Monaghan ever, Rory Beggan, boomed over from a hurling-type distance towards the Canal. Even some Dub fans (who prefer to remain synonymous with unknown) had to give the thumbs up to this Big Tom of a punt. No Carroll County Accident about that.



To twist the screw this was the Canal on the Royal banks of which a statue of Brendan Behan stands and a bridge named for Luke Kelly its parallel river, spans. The Grand Canal is the one which has been colonised by a statue of Paddy Kavanagh: his granite head is still bent low, though not with many or indeed, any apologies.


In that wash-out of a first half the Monaghan team played free flowing football, showed a great hunger and with the doggedness of Wylie coyotes. Even Barney’s son couldn’t keep the Farneys roped in. A key clause in Banty’s Bainisteoir contract is obvious: to see to it they play attractive football, going forward, whether it be on the Jimmy Gray soil of Tony H or wherever.


How to explain the four-letter Dubs reaching Rock bottom and scoring one point less at home in the entire first half (see snap)? Perhaps because they were faced with a Conor Boyle for the second row in a week had made them over-confident? Or maybe they were disorientated by the combination of two Munster surnames in the Northern team: McCarthy and O’Connell.


All credit so to the Ballymun McCarthy who, typically, led the revival by magicking up a point. The King of Carty’s is still making tarts!


Monaghan possibly reckoned that their McCarthy one neutralise our McCarthy: fat chance. The King of Carthy’s is still making tarts ! Credit also where further credit is due: all praise to the Bugler boy from Company B (for bench) and to the unmarkeable Maxi whose trade mark axiom is sung to the tune of The Waxy’s celebratory Gargle.


Not forgetting Davy Byrne who, at the death, even the post-mortem, pulled a point as creamy as was ever pulled in a particular moral pub across the street from the old ghost of P. Kavanagh is known to meet himself on the way in and out with or without a bottle of Paddy.


Unlike the ref, alas, one has run out of time. Except to say: where did one leave one’s lump-hammer. Pourquoi?


-Time to smash Monaghan in two !

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