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Sunday 22 April 2018

All fungi and games after sports ground discovery

Fergus Black

IS it a rather pale melon, an old football or perhaps an overgrown mushroom?

When a GAA club chairman spotted the unusual object while cutting the local pitch he thought he had discovered a discarded football.

"We are probably the smallest club in Limerick and I saw fairly big mushrooms before but never anything like this," said John Franklin, chairman of Knockane GAA club in Co Limerick.

John's son Jack 'Donie' Franklin, who was giving his dad a hand at the time, came over to investigate.

"He got some surprise. He thought it was a football too, laughed John."

The father and son brought brought their newly captured object home and were amazed to find it weighed in at a respectable 7lbs 3oz.

"We found a few mushrooms there last week when we were cutting the field but this must be the king of them all," said John.

Not quite, according to mycologist Thomas Harrington of the University of Limerick who said that the melon-sized discovery was nothing more than a giant puffball, a close relative of the common mushroom.

"They can grow even bigger than this one," said the fungi expert. "When they are young and white they are edible and can be sliced like a thick slice of bread and and cooked in the pan with some oil or butter."

He also discounted any suggestions it was a giant magic mushroom.

"It's certainly not a magic mushroom -- one that size would send most of the population of Ireland into hallucinations if it went into the water supply," he joked.

Despite being nothing more than a common puffball, the find is the talk of the parish of Pallasgreen and Templebraden and Jack is the envy of all his friends.

"They were all looking at it and rubbing it and asking when are we going to open it up.

"We had it up in the corner and they thought it was a football too. It's shrinking a small bit now. It's down to 7lbs," said Mr Franklin, who says they plan on cutting it up in the next few days.

Irish Independent

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