Friday 4 September 2015

Dreams of the old days and signing for Liverpool


Published 03/01/2012 | 13:58

THERE were always a host of worries for me as a budding young sports star.

When I was in Primary School all I wanted to do when I grew up was commentate on football and soccer matches, play for Liverpool and Ireland and win county and AllIreland titles with Rathvilly and Carlow respectively.

To be honest at 23 I still think it's realistic. I usually do the commentaries for all Rathvilly championship DVDS and I'm partial to the odd radio report from my KFM days. I've been involved in winning u-12c, u-14b, u-21a and Junior A championships with Rathvilly and I played county Minor for Carlow. (Although my only appearance was a challenge game against Waterford)

So all I have left to do is win a Senior championship with Rathvilly, win the AllIreland with Carlow and sign for Liverpool. Seems easy enough doesn't it?

When thinking of those dreams the other day I remembered what my friends and I used to worry about before we played sport.

I distinctly remember getting off a bus in Ballylinan to play an under-10 soccer match against St. Annes and our collective reaction was "Ah god these have loads of big lads!" Why did size mean so much to us?

What's funnier is that we weren't exactly a small team. Brendan Murphy was always really tall, Clive Byrne was a giant when we were under ten and nearly everybody else was the same height as me, and I wasn't small. Maybe the grass is always greener on the other side?

In Rathvilly national school, (when I was there) there were two playing areas at the back. One was a grass pitch on the left and the other was a basketball court on the right.

As most of you will know, Rathvilly would not be renowned for its basketball reputation. The only uses we had for the hoops were when GAA coaches like Brendan Hayden and Johnny Nevin used to come out and we'd play "No Man's Land" and it was worth ten points to "Hit the Grid" or at lunch time there could be anything from one to ten soccer games taking place at any one time.

When I think of it now it was utter madness. The bottom part of the basketball hoops made a rectangle about a foot high and four feet wide, just high enough for a ball to pass under for a goal.

Almost every boy from first class to sixth class would be on the court and balls would be flying everywhere. How did we keep track of our own Cup Champions plastic balls?

Another massive thing for us as we ploughed through the underage ranks was getting to Mcdonalds after a final. It meant everything. Mcdonalds was to us, what City West is to All-ireland champions, or whatever hotel they go to. Spit fights with the straws on the way home on the bus were never a thing I enjoyed, especially when lads like Eamonn Kelly and Garry Byrne could hit a fly in motion, but I took part anyway.

The thing I will leave you with I think still applies today. The back seat on the bus. That was the Holy Grail.

The big lads sat at the back seat, and whatever they said, went. When the swimming bus used to arrive at school on a Monday to head for Graiguecullen, the back seat arrangements would have been made about an hour beforehand and God forbid, some poor kid from a couple of classes below would sit there before the hard back seat men got on the bus, that kind of stunt could get you a right good nipple twister or a devastating wedgie.

I handed out the odd nipple twister, but I received more than my fair share. So, anyway, Kenny Dalglish and Luke Dempsey, what are you waiting for lads? Sign me up!

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