Monday, November 4, 2013

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Drog Day Afternoon

Yesterday saw us on our way to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium for the FAI cup final between Drogheda United and Sligo Rovers. My son, who invariably accompanies me to soccer events, told me the kick off was at 1230 so we left with enough time to spare. When we got to the stadium we discovered that the match would not start until 1530, leaving me to wonder if the book in my bag would be enough to get me through rather than being subject to the tedium of dead time. Moral of the story is not to let him get his paws on the tickets without checking them out first myself. But as the final of the Women's FAI Cup was scheduled to start we took our seats and settled down to watch it with no great deal of enthusiasm on my part. It was not what we had come for. As he would watch two flies on a green wall if they seemed to be in competition, it was fruit for the monkey.

I had never been to a women’s soccer match before but had watched a few games on TV during the Olympics due to my son allowing me to watch nothing else. The games were impressive but an Irish cup final?

It wasn’t long before I realised that in terms of entertainment this was as good as any men’s soccer. Both of us got into it and initially opted for Raheny United to win out over Castlebar Celtic. Not long into the game and I switched sides. We were at the side of the Raheny goal and saw very little of the play as both teams seemed camped out in front of the Castlebar net, so I felt sorry for the beleaguered women of Castlebar. A misplaced drive led to my son asking ‘what sort of cross was that?’ My response was a terse ‘so bad you wouldn’t nail a Christian to it.’ He found that funny, no more buying into the magic or the myths than I do.

One fine save by the keeper and a goal line clearance prevented Raheny going ahead but the inevitable came soon enough with a fine dipping shot that evaded the keeper. A 1-0 half time lead seriously understated Raheny’s complete dominance.

Shortly before half time I told my son that the Castlebar No 9 was sluggish, ran too much when there was no purpose and stood still when it was more purposeful to move. He nodded knowingly as he tends to do when it comes to matters of soccer. When the second half started it was announced that the No 9 had been substituted. He laughed out loud and said something to the effect that I could get some things right. Some time later her replacement netted the equaliser as Castlebar more and more came into the game. There might be commentary work for me yet in a world where work is as scarce as dry rain. Two dazzling runs down the left wing by a Raheny forward resulted in crosses not even Franz Carr, once of Notts Forest, could have conjured up: woeful and wasted. In the end it was 3-2 in favour of Raheny but only after extra time: a close run thing.

The Drogheda-Sligo game was a much more aggressive affair, peppered by bookings and one sending off. It had been 40 years since I had attended a senior soccer cup final, Rangers against Celtic at Hampden which the Gers won 3-2. There was nowhere near the 134,000 spectators that there were that day in 1973 but the supporters of either club yesterday created an atmosphere that both of us soaked up like sponges.

Hard fought, it ended in a nail biting finish with two goals in time added on; 8 minutes of it said something about the stoppages occasioned by fouls during the normal course of play. Unlike games I have been at in the North, England or Scotland, we were able to sit beside supporters of the opposing team without feeling they were going to bite us. They leapt up when their team scored and we did likewise when Drogheda found the onion bag. Problem was, they jumped up one more time than we did.

I like the Aviva. I took my son there earlier this year to watch an Ireland match against Georgia which was a doddle for the Irish, something they are not used to. But the joy of these things lies in what he calls a ‘daddy-son’ day, the sort of things I want him to remember rather than living amidst the stress caused by battles over Boston College or disputes with the NUJ. Yesterday there was nothing as horrible as sisters to steal attention away from him or as bothersome as mams telling him to tidy his room. The Drogs may have lost but we came away feeling our bonding was the real winner.



sean bres said...

Nice one Anthony, these are the things that matter most. My phiolosophy on life is simple, if you want to change the world we start with ourselves - it's what we do that's important. you're a lucky, lucky man but I'm sure you don't need me or anyone else to tell ye that, maith thu!

James said...

Lovely stuff.

This life is all about making memories, deeper and much richer than any pot of rich mans gold.

AM said...


20 minutes listening to him howl makes me wonder if I am lucky!!

But wouldn't change him for the world

david said...

Brilliant- glad you enjoyed- was one of the most enjoyable matches I have seen in years

Brought my two to the semi final against Dundalk at United pk- both ate their bodyweight in sweets- it was raw,the toilets were an adventure in themselves, right up at pitch side could hear the players interaction, 3 of us got in for E20 and we loved it- the 4 year old has the makings of a Drogs die hard

sean bres said...

I've three brats of my own, two of them teenagers constantly either moping about or looking something... Enjoy it while you can lol

Dave said...

Anything beats watching Liverpool being humiliated by Arsenal ( again).

AM said...


he did the same with sweets - but I helped him a bit! It was only 18 for the two cup final tickets. We got to see both finals and had a great day. Even the toilets were orderly and clean. Not like at Hunky Dory.

Were exhausted when we got in.


the daughter is at that point. It tempts me to risk a life sentence for strangling her!!


and then you go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like ... I love Arsenal!!

itsjustmacker said...

I have 7 kids, all grown up now of course, but when they were younger its was all give me , give me , give
me, now I have 14 grandchildren It,s can I have an Ipad/Laptop/most up to date phone, I just tell them "Father Christmas is dead". Glad you 's enjoyed the match, I'm sure you know the funny side of the Medals, They misspelt Sligo with "Silgo", so all medals to be returned and new ones with the word "Sligo" on them, nice to see stories ending happily .

Maitiu Connel said...

Dave.Arsenal is our number 1 team. Carzols goal was beautiful. Up the gunners!