WHEN two newlyweds hightail it off in different directions as soon as they leave the church, it doesn't usually bode well for their relationship.
But when a runaway groom dashed off to captain his team in a football match minutes after exchanging marital vows, he had his wife's blessing.
Alma Daly just had time for a quick embrace with her new husband Ger Rafferty outside St Manchan's Church in Boher, Co Offaly, on Saturday, before a helicopter whisked her to the wedding reception in Athlone.
Meanwhile, Ger, an Offaly county player, sped off to O'Connor Park in Tullamore, where he captained Cloghan side St Rynagh's in an intermediate football final against Durrow.
There was no chance of a fashionably late arrival for the bride -- she was under orders to get to the church on time, as any delay could cost the team precious time during the match.
Fortunately, not only did Ger make it to the match on time but he arrived back to the reception in glorious triumph, carrying the Billy Kelly Cup with him, after St Rynagh's recorded a comfortable 1-11 to 0-8 victory over Durrow.
The GAA was even further indebted to the gracious Alma as two of her brothers, Des and Aaron Daly, missed the wedding ceremony as they were playing for Ballycumber in the Junior B Final against Erin Rovers. They were also successful, on a score of 0-16 to 0-6.
To add to the bride's troubles, a sizeable portion of the wedding party also attended one or other of the matches.
While some bridezillas might have whinged and stamped their feet, Alma was stoic about the absent guests.
"We had kind of joked about it during the year. It was only for two hours, so it's fine," she said.
"We kind of knew when he got into the final. I was happy enough, there was no way he wasn't going to be there," Alma said.
A dedicated GAA player, Ger not only captains St Rynagh's, he also trained the side this year, Alma explained.
To sweeten the deal, St Rynagh's hired the helicopter to fly Alma and her bridesmaids to the wedding reception at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone.
As a condition, Alma was asked not to arrive late at the church. "A minute past one was my time limit," she said.
Despite taking it all in her stride, Alma admitted she had deliberately booked the wedding for late October in order to avoid the football season.
"It's kind of ironic because when we did book the wedding, this was the reason why, because it (the football season) was meant to be over."
Her plans went awry, however, after a drawn semi-final and a few delayed games during the year.
And the newlyweds have also had to delay their honeymoon until Christmas, to allow Ger to start a new job this week.