‘It’s not every day your son goes for a trial at Manchester United. I’m doing well hiding my disappointment’
‘Ine wontherin am I too oawult,” Ronan goes. This is in Sorcha’s Nissan Leaf, as she’s dropping us to the airport.
“Too old?” I go. “Dude, you’re only 16.”
He’s like, “That’s oawult in football. All these utter feddas – Neymar, Lee Niddle Messi – thee were discubbered when they were 12 or 13, Rosser.”
He goes back to looking out the window. He’s nervous. I’m nervous. It’s not every day that your son goes for a trial at Manchester United Soccer Something. I’m doing well hiding my disappointment, though.
I’m there, “You’re going to do great, Ro,” and then I try to think of something practical to say to him in terms of, like, advice? “Any time the soccer ball comes near you, just – I don’t know – kick it as hord as you can.”
I’ve watched a 100 matches with him in the last month and that’s all anyone seemed to be doing.
He laughs. He goes, “Don’t talk about things you don’t wontherstand, Rosser. Here, Ine glad you’re coming wit me, but . . .”
“Yeah, no,” I go, “So am I.”
We pull up outside the terminal. Sorcha gets out and wishes him luck, then Ro goes on ahead of me to see if Shadden has arrived yet, leaving me and Sorcha there on our Tobler.
“Ross,” Sorcha goes, “are you crying?”
I wipe my face with my sleeve. “No South Dublin father wants this for his kid,” I go. “And I can’t help feeling that it’s somehow my fault.”
“Your fault? How is it your fault?”
“I don’t know. If I’d taken him to more Leinster matches . . .”
“You took him to loads of Leinster matches.”
“Or put my foot down when Shadden’s old man brought him to Stella Maris. Instead, I let myself think it was a phase he’d possibly grow out of.”
Sorcha smiles. “I’ve got something for you,” she goes, then she ducks back into the cor and pulls an envelope out of the glove box. She hands it to me. My name is on the front and I recognise the handwriting straight away.
“It’s from Father Fehily,” she goes.
Fr Fehily coached three generations of O’Carroll-Kellys: my old man, me and my son.
I’m there, “Father Fehily died eight years ago.”
“He gave it to me at the hospital,” she goes. “He told me to keep it safe and to give it to you if this day ever arrived.”
“Are you saying he saw this coming?”
“Well, he gave me other letters as well. One in the event of Ronan becoming a major figure in the Dublin Underworld, one in the event of . . . Look, there were six or seven. That’s the soccer one.”
I stick it in my pocket. I’m like, “I’ll read it later,” then I tell her I’ll see her in a few days and I tip into the terminal to find Ro. He’s already standing in the check-in queue, with – I can’t help but notice – his in-laws. Or his sin-laws, since him and Shadden aren’t married.
I wander over to them. I’m like, “Hey!”
Kennet, as in Shadden’s old man, has this habit of laughing whenever he sees me, like he finds even the idea of someone like me ridiculous. He goes, “Th, th, th, there he is!” because he’s also got that terrible MC Hammer. “The m, m, m, m, madden himself!”