Long weekend allows enough time for tennis
‘May Day Scramble’ ends on a high as Vinny makes a return to his youth
With little expectation, Vinny didn’t over-achieve. He lost his first match 4-0 to a big-serving bully who complained that he hadn’t had a decent rally, and his second 4-2 to a white-haired chap, who revealed with a grin as they shook hands at the net that he was also eligible for the O65 section.
The final match was a dead rubber as Vinny’s opponent, who introduced himself as Gerald “ with an L”, had also lost his first two games. While Gerald towered over Vinny, he was hampered by a noticeable limp. Sensing he was in with a sniff, Vinny did his best to mix up the play. He had to keep Gerald an L, on the run.
At 2-2, Vinny suddenly found his form of yesteryear. His wooden Dunlop behaved like a wand as he conjured up a succession of decent strokes. He took the game to lead 3-2 and soon found himself 40-15 up and serving for the match. By now, the juices were flying. He was the Rockhampton Rocket of his youth. It was time to put Gerald, to the sword.
Gerald sent a ball skywards. Vinny sensed the Garryowen would land in play and turned to scurry back. And then, it happened. After three paces, at full throttle, Vinny felt the pain knife into the back of his upper leg. Briefly, he thought he’d been shot by a sniper as he collapsed in a heap on the hard surface.
“Me hammer, me bloody hammer,” he sputtered in annoyance as Gerald, with an L, enquired as to his well-being. Vinny felt like telling him where he should shove his “L” when he felt the soft brown arms of Noleen cradling him.
“Are you okay, Vinny?” she said with a sensitivity Vinny found welcome. “I’ll be grand Noleen. Just help us to me feet,” he said.
Later, against a back-drop of “Waterloo” and a roaring barbecue, Vinny sat propped up in a corner of the clubhouse bar, bag of ice clasped to the back of his muttony leg, pint of stout to hand.
For the past two hours, Noleen Nagle and Angie had fussed, and fought, over him, one an old flame, the other very much his only flame.
He had overplayed things as his leg was attended to, cushions placed under his back, his glass and plate refilled regularly. The torn hammer had been worth it all, he thought.
Just then, he heard an intro from an Irish Eurovision song of many years standing. He recognised the singer as Cathal Dunne, which he placed as 1979. A good song, if not a great one. How did it go again? Then, it came to him.
“I’m in love and I’m alive – happy man. Got the sun inside – happy man. I’ve got a girl on my mind, love in my heart – happy man.”
Which, at that moment, he most certainly was.