‘I hit Jerry Flannery in Club 92 once and his knees genuinely buckled’
T’D BE FAIR to say that Sorcha isn’t a hundred per cent gone on the idea of me agreeing to fight Gary, our neighbour, in one of these white-collar boxing matches that are suddenly popular. She keeps going, “Ross, you could get hurt – as in, like, seriously hurt? Why don’t you just tell him that it was just the drink talking and you don’t actually want to fight him?” You can imagine me, I’m sure. I actually laugh? I’m like, “You’re suggesting I wuss out? What would that do to my rep?”
She goes – believe it or not – “What rep?” I hate having to remind her, but I do anyway. “A lot of people in this town still remember what I did on the rugby field, Sorcha. I’m still a role model to a lot of young players. Brendan Macken and Jordan Coghlan, to name just two. One of the main reasons being that I never backed away from a challenge.”
“That’s the reason you want to fight him?” “Well, and because I want to rearrange his big smug features. He’s been sniffing around you like a lurcher in a slaughterhouse. It’s time I put him in his basic place.” “He’s bigger than you.” “Father Fehily used to tell us never to be put off by an opponent’s size. ‘A three-pound cat will eat a four-pound fish!’ I have to say, that’s one of my favourite of all the sayings that he left us.”
“Gary’s been boxing all his life, Ross. You’ve seen his medals. And his belts.” I’m there, “Oh, yeah, that was a nice touch of his, calling in with them the other night. That was a definite attempt at gamesmanship.” She goes, “Ross, you could get hurt. He’s had proper actual training.”
I end up having to laugh. “You don’t think I’m proposing to step into that ring without an actual game plan? Sorcha, I’m going to train for this like I used to train for the S back in the day. And the first thing on my list is a good coach. By the way, you know your friend Claire from Bray?”
“What about her?” “Is she any relation to Katie Taylor?” Sorcha just stares at me for, like, 10 seconds without saying anything, then goes, “Oh! My God! Do you think everyone from Bray is related?” Then it’s my turn not to say anything.“Oh my God,” she goes, “you actually do!” That’s when the doorbell suddenly rings. I tip out, open the door and who’s standing there, roysh, only Ronan.
I’m there, “Alright, Ro?” And he’s just like, “I’m arthur being thinking about your predicament, Rosser.” “What predicament would that be?” “The fact that the fedda next door is about to knock the bollocks out of you in public.” “Oh – that one.” He goes, “You need a trainer, Rosser,” like he’s just read my mind. “And I’m arthur finding the man for you.”
“Who?” “Buckets of Blood.” “Buckets of Blood? I thought he was . . .”
“He was. He’s out on TR, but.” I look over Ronan’s shoulder and it’s the man himself, walking up the path, all six foot five of him, his big paranoid eyes rolling from side to side, looking for something to take offence at, flexing his neck like he’s being choked by a collar, even though he’s wearing a round necked sweatshirt.