Saturday 18 November 2017

Sideline a lonely place for a Dragon under pressure

The moment of truth is looming for Gavin Duffy, whose life has been taken over by his role as celebrity bainisteoir

THESE nights I am sleeping restlessly. No, it is not all the extra billions we are pouring into our banks or the economic stagnation that exercises my mind. I am waking up wondering will I play a three-man midfield or not in my Celebrity Bainisteoir quarter final? My life has been taken over by my role as the manager of my team, the Roche Emmets from right on the border, north of Dundalk in Co Louth.

My team are from literally just south of the border. It's that part of the country that is sometimes referred to, unfairly, as "bandit" country. And yes, I have suffered the jibes. "It's a pity it's football -- if it was smuggling, I am sure the Roche boys would win." Wit is always entertaining, but it can also be severely prejudicial.

The men on this team and the people of the parish of Faughart are genuinely welcoming, hard working, honest folk and I have in the last six weeks grown to love the place and its people. From the moment I arrived, I felt the pressure and expectation of the community. An elderly lady warmly shook my hand as I arrived at the grounds and after exchanging pleasantries blurted, "It will be great having RTE filming around here about football and not the Troubles and all the past, you know".

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