Donegal connection dupes Vinny and the Dubs once again

McGinley’s wild card selections leave Foley’s finest nonplussed

Paul McGinley: “The Donegal link reminded the lads of their darkest hour on Sunday, and there was no joy either as McGinley flourished his wild card trio.” Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images.

Paul McGinley: “The Donegal link reminded the lads of their darkest hour on Sunday, and there was no joy either as McGinley flourished his wild card trio.” Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images.

Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 06:00

That a fourball of middle-aged men could tee off for a pint a little after noon on a Tuesday seemed slightly incongruous, but Foley’s pub on the Clontarf Road was long full of non-conforming characters. Charlie St John Vernon was available at the drop of a beer mat as he had more rent flowing in than NAMA; Fran’s launderette firm was buzzing since the schools went back; Macker worked his own taxi hours, and Vinny Fitzpatrick had just finished a dawn shift on the buses.

For the lads, a pint or two as the sun crept past the yard-arm was therapy for the events of Sunday in Croke Park which left them as stunned as their beloved boys in blue. Such had been their mental fragility and bewilderment in the aftermath of the All-Ireland semi-final loss that they hadn’t had the heart to face the froth of Foley’s.

Instead, they shook hands and split for home at the bottom of Vernon Avenue, vaguely aware of Vinny’s invitation to reconvene for the European Ryder Cup wild card announcement on Tuesday, ‘if anyone was up for it.’

Time, in life and in sport, was a fair healer and when Vinny ducked his fat head into the cool, dark recesses of Foley’s two days later, his three pals were in position, pints to hand. Briefly, they paused for reflections on Sunday’s events which had left their diaries free on the third Sunday of September.

Spitting fire

Fran squarely blamed Jim Gavin, the Dublin manager. “He’s too detached from the players. He should be in the pre-match huddle like McGuinness, spitting fire and brimstone,” he said.

Macker felt too many Dublin players under-performed, particularly across the half-back line and in midfield where ‘we needed MDM to roar like the lion from MGM; instead, he purred.’

Charlie Vernon observed how difficult it was for any team to retain the Sam Maguire. “Only Kerry have done it since 1990. Let’s be honest chaps, history was against us.”

For Vinny, the pasting was a little easier to talk about now that the wounds weren’t so open. Hard though it was to admit, Dublin just weren’t as good a team as everyone built them up to be. Their chin had been exposed in Croker before, only this time Donegal landed the haymaker.

“Lads, we were jammy winners against Kerry in 2011; and Mayo could have been out of sight by half-time against us in the final last year,” he observed. “You know, this might not be the end of the world. We’ll regroup, and come back, just as Donegal and Kerry have done. Sport is cyclical and every top team has their ups and downs.”

Wild cards

There was a murmur around the table, not all of it in agreement. Emboldened, he lightened the mood. “Right lads, what’s the call on Europe’s wild cards? Let’s throw a tenner a man on McGinley’s three picks. No winner, no bet.”

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