The smart money is that it'll get ugly


GAA Confidential. Here's how it got messy. Some bit of a ruck went down between the Offaly boys and the young bucks from Dublin last March. Saturday afternoon in Parnell Park. Should have been as private as an impure thought. Bad luck of it was that some dame with a red neck and a videocam caught it in the can. The Offaly boys cut up the pictures real pretty then put them back together again and handed them over to the feds. Offaly boys looking like choirboys and smelling of talc. Guys in blue jerseys putting the muscle on them.

By then the media boys were all over the case like shine on a cheap suit, so head office put the shakedown on our fellas. Davy Billings got taken out for a year. Damien Bolger went away for a two-year stretch. Hard time. They say Bolger is doing soccer. Hard time does things to a man.

It went quiet after that and nobody thought about Davey Billings again. Then things turned queer with Mickey W.

Mickey W got shot up again by the Royal County mob last summer, and, around about then, if Mickey W had been a racehorse you couldn't have given away shares in him. Pony wouldn't run. Lot of people then thought Mickey W was the sort of cowboy who is all hat and no cattle, but he came out waving his gun.

I'm still standing, said Mickey W.

Next thing is Mickey W takes a fall after a low-grade skirmish with the Offaly boys in winter. Parnell Park should have been quiet as a cemetery at dawn. Nobody looking, but suddenly Mickey W feels the heat and wilts like a daisy.

With Mickey W out of the picture the big dance begins. Suddenly some people are talking about Davey Billings.

Some folks say that the feds are going to slash Davey Billings's term, what with good behaviour and on account of the flimsy evidence in the first place. Maybe he'll be a springer for Mickey W's job when the time comes.

Lot of heat going down about Mickey W's job. Somebody is going to end up stiff and cold.

Fran Ryder, who runs the best taphouse on the southside, has ducked out. Maybe. Some say he's waiting for Big Doc O'Neill to come back into town with his old posse. Others say he's laying low in case Chairman John Bailey talks sweet to the boys in the ward and swings another term for himself. Bailey got big playing the numbers and built himself a citadel in Donnycarney that's got the family in lumber to the bank mob for a while to come.

Here's where it gets messy like a tout's guts with lead in them. Chairman Bailey has been there since before they invented trouble, but Chairman Bailey wants to stay. For that they've gotta bend a few rules here and a few rules there. Word on the street is that Chairman Bailey will swim with the fishes soon.

Some people are taking no chances though. The Chairman rubbed a few soldiers up the wrong way in his day. If he's going to come out of his grave clutching his gut, they ain't going to be around. Word on the street is that people looking for Mickey W's old job are keeping pretty quiet about it.

Bad business. The big job is always bad business and somebody always winds up with a nose out of joint.

The boys say it will go over smoother this Christmas because Bomber Costello is pulling the strings and he knows how things work. Whisper here, whisper there. Don't be making a fool of yourself like a good man. That's what county secretaries are for and Bomber is the best.

But even in his time, Paddy Delaney walked in and had everyone reaching for their umbrella. He's been away for a bit, too, but the room which picked Mickey W is a lot like the room that will pick Mickey W's successor. Lots of loose cannons and a few faithful shills.

Lot of smart money right now cosying up to Haircut O'Leary, the old netminder from out the north county. Haircut spilled all his woe into his book and left Mickey W looking silly. Chairman Bailey didn't smell of roses afterwards either. If Chairman Bailey rides again, Haircut may be writing a sequel.

There is Talty from out west. Talty is a stand up guy, but Talty has a problem worse than the plague. He's not family. The Big Guy has a long memory. 1983. That grudge ain't even fully ripe yet. For a guy that's not family? Fugged-aboutit.

And how do ya figure the Big Guy? There is always the Big Guy hovering in the background. Nobody gets to see him in person no more, he don't even come in the clam house. But he's still got the clout. The Big Guy, the Wise One, An tSaoi. Put the fix in for Mickey W back in 1995. Surprised everyone when Davey Billings and Tommy Lyons just about thought that they were made guys.

Who else is out there?

Gay O'Driscoll shifting office goods from up Dorset Street. Some baggage with the Big Guy too. Liked to sing sweetly for the press boys back when they used to come looking for tunes in the 1970s. Never sat well.

Declan Douglas. The good days were over for Declan even before Southside Pauly discovered he loved Kilmacud and all it stood for.

And Alan Larkin. Sort of guy that always does the job that's asked. Chairman B and Alan Larkin have some unfinished business. Chairman B has the muscle though, Chairman B still has the muscle.

Makes you think.

And what will the Leinster Feds do with Davey Billings? Word is that he's going to cop a clemency deal. Leinster Feds are a little red in the face about the big stick treatment. After all, a guy couldn't get a year stretch off the Ulster Council if he did the job with an automatic weapon and sang The Sash while he was at it.

Six months later and the racket still ain't straight. They were picking Finbar Cullen's teeth like daisies out of the grass in Parnell Park a few weeks back. Somebody put the finger on Southside Pauly, but not before Mickey W waved goodbye. Was that Tommy Lyons laughing like a drain?

How come all these things happened in the place that Chairman B built? Nobody knows, but nobody asks questions about how much extra the curse cost.

The Wimbledon mob are putting it about that they have a foothold in the turf, getting a piece of the west Dublin action. Kids'll be mainlining soccer in 10 years if they don't go away.

Always getting heat in the city. Nothing but heat. Smart money says we don't know the name of the guy who'll get Mickey W's job. Smart money whispers about a surprise. Chairman B, An tSaoi and the Bomber playing it close to their chests.