Vinny Fitzpatrick in a state after getting some bad news
Middle-aged busman loses the plot in Foley’s as All-Ireland final looms
Hill 16, Vinny Fitzpatrick’s usual perch on All-Ireland final day.
The fury rose up from the pit of Vinny Fitzpatrick’s voluminous stomach and spilled over into a snarling river of anguish, the like of which was uncommon to Foley’s, a pub more readily associated with Hermit-like serenity than the bombast of Speaker’s Corner.
“No, no, no,” cried Vinny aloud as he slammed a meaty fist into the table top, scattering beer mats and prompting those in his company to snatch their pints lest their tipple toppled.
“Let me tell the lot of youse, if I could spit fire, this place would be a burning inferno right now. May youse all burn in Hell,” raged the middle-aged bus driver, jowls a quiver, cheeks as ruby-red as ripened tomatoes.
There was a silence, which could probably be heard all the way to Royal Dublin golf club, as heads were raised from papers and the telly.
Something was tying Vinny’s Alan Whickers in a right twist but what could it be? As the wheelie bin-sized driver waddled angrily out of the hostelry, it was left to Macker, who had observed the ruckus from the snug, to find the source of his good friend’s ire.
Outside, he found Vinny kicking the wheels of a car which Macker knew belonged to one of the lads inside. “Steady on Vinny, you’ll do yourself and the jam-jar damage,” he said, reaching out an arm.
Vinny spun away, fell on his knees and let his shoulders sag. “How could they do this to me Macker? How could they?” he said softly.
Bit by bit, Vinny disclosed his ticket tale of woe. He explained how one of the precious few tickets allocated to Dollymount Gaels for the All-Ireland final had long being his entitlement.
The arrangement had been approved by the club big-wigs following the passing of his late father, Finbarr, who gave over half his life to the Gaels, as a founding member, doughty wing-back, manager, and honorary secretary.
This year, of all years, with the Dubs buttressed by the finest platoon of footballers since Heffo’s Heroes of the 1970s, Vinny Fitzpatrick had turned up for the annual pre-final shenanigans in Foley’s only to be told the gates to Croker had been moved. It was akin to treachery.
Oily Nobby Stokes was the grim reaper, explaining how the committee felt no member should have automatic access to an All-Ireland ticket, at least not when Dublin were in the final.
As the club only received 10 tickets, all for Hill 16, it was decreed there should be an open draw instead.
For Vinny, it had been akin to a kick in the goolies to be told his birth-right had been denied him, but worse followed when Nobby pointed out that to be entered in the draw, members had to stump up a non-refundable €10 deposit before 7pm that night – the deadline had passed.
“You see, Vinny, even if I wanted to include you in the draw, I couldn’t,” said an unctuous Nobby. “We posted fliers up on our notice boards in Foley’s, Shingles and The Schooner but you must have missed them. That’s a pity.”
Vinny wanted to shove Nobby’s head up where the sun didn’t shine but had vented his frustration on his car instead, a battered 10-year-old Toyota. “Macker, without a ticket to the final, I’m lost. What am I do to?” he cried.