Last Saturday was the first day for the rolling out of the two Bainisteoir Farrells : Dessie and Andy.
And as one made one’s way to a rugby oasis of a pub that afternoon in the Gobi desert of the English Premiership that is the gargleland of Malta, one was in no danger of forgetting that Mayo were the Dubs’ opponents later than day on GAAGO.
In the words of the song: ‘Always something there to remind me’, to do with the colours and the crest of the Western County.
(Actually, one later regretted – almost - that one had not forgotten the game was Beo on GAAGO. If the oval ball game involving the Land of Ire, was dire, then the round-ball game was even more dire, Kieron).
First up, one passed a promenade bench which the Local Council had painted Green and Red, ostensibly in the colours of one of the countries, rather than counties, of the world, like all the other benches. Next up, about a half mile nearer the destination pub, one spotted a plumber’s van which could have doubled as the Mayo crest (‘Críost Linn’):
Subtitle the above song: ‘The Jacks are Bacharach’.
Though it didn’t look like that in the first quarter of the game in Castlebar. In a word, they weren’t at the,erm, races. Mayo took up where they had left off in Ballybuffet: ravenous as well as rampant as they galloped through a barely recognisable Dublin defence in disarray: it was like Oisín Full-back was after the scalp of Na Fianna.
The Fivers in a Row (which, hopefully, does not affect their amateur status) looked at sixes and sevens.
Speaking of which Aidan O Shea seemed to be ubiquitous. As along with playing in the backs, midfield and in the forwards all he needed to be a referee was a whistle with a pip. Which tiny but crucial item, he gave instead to disinterested Dub fans, big time. In fact one was reminded of his namesakes, the brothers, Tomás, Darragh and Mark (the last mention of the M-word here, promise) who are all over the 24/7 shop these days when it comes to Punditry, if you’ll pardon the ditry (as in linen and washing).
But then, just as Oisín in the legend fell off the horse, so too did Mayo. And never managed to remount. Tír na nOg suddenly became a country for old men, as first Ciarán Cinn Oir McDonald, aka Super Mac, the genuine Golden Boy (and who should have waltzed the Footballer of the Year award back in the day) was spotted on the line, and the likes of veteran Gansey Fabric Tester Lee Keegan was introduced. (Having been made G.F.T. of the year with one DC in Croke Park, one wonders when Kerry come to Croagh Patrick will Lee K. Be, like, detailed to be the G.F.T. on a different DC?).
The direness was such a pity, because the Feb First setting was fabulous, and such as to make even St. Brigid lose her cross look: fullish house, bullish crowd, under Solais. The home support gave tongue to ‘Mayo ! Mayo! Mayo !’ but after the twin deed in the space of two minutes , a pall fell over the crowd and their vocal support eventually petered out.
Almost, as if, Coronavirus style, they began to wear a collective face mask and the place resembled more the corridors of the Mayo Clinic, one built in two minutes.
Confucius say: not like mention of Coronavirus.
(Confucius also say: Huawei for 5G!)
A twin deed bedecked in ironic colours knocked Mayo off their steed: a red card and a green flag. Such was the gospel according to Jordan ‘Out Like’ Flynn and Rock of Sages, Dean of Studied Composure, respectively. The latter comes with all his Pop’s DNA of a Dublin Great: with his ability to spot, erm, bearnaí in the opposition’s porous defence, then to pop up and punish accordingly.
When the Mayo defender was made to walk, perhaps unfairly, one was reminded of Chairman M’s most celebrated dictum: ‘A Long March of a Thousand Miles begins with one Small footfall for mankind’.
Speaking of twins, the identical Durkan twins started for Mayo, so much so that one almost expected a triplet (called Murisheen, perhaps) would make an appearance. No, not Murisheen Murchan. Puleeze. No class warfare here.
And while down at one end of the McHale and less than McHearty Park the home forwards were doing their impression of a collective Colonel Sanders, sans head, at the other end, Maxi was remininding folk of D 6W that he used to drive a van with the slogan ‘Poultry in Motion’ through that parish for a living. Blaring out: ‘Hey, Jude, not’.
A Carroll featured once again in Farrell’s team: so far Rory hasn’t been able to haka it as of old. One remains confident however that, come the summer, he’ll return to being one of the great Maori Tráchta of the modern era.
Speaking of street wardens, one of the great standby questions of Pub Quizzes in the pre-smartphone era was:
-Which leading Dublin street is one-sided ?
As it happens, in most one-sided games in which Dublin are involved, by his own driven design Ciarán is centre stage. Always.
No surprise that Nassau Street is where the Kilkenny Design Centre is located.