Monday 23 April 2018

Breaking tweet limit can result in penalty points

Myself and the brother were spending this Sunday like we spent most Sundays -- panned out across the sofa, analysing whatever sporting event happened to be on the box. For those few hours we became experts in whatever event was taking place.

"This plank thinks he's refereeing a basketball game!"

"This is cat, flick on the tennis; Sharapova is on soon."

Today it was the Ulster football championship, which was becoming hard to watch. Two physical teams were being held back by fussy refereeing. I shook my head, this was getting boring. I whipped out my phone and began to scroll through my Twitter timeline. The devil makes work for idle hands?

I began to compose a tweet, letting everyone know my feelings about the goings-on in the game. 'Two great teams being held back by absolutely woeful refereeing! I've seen more exciting games of Scrabble . . . nice one ref #UlsterSFC #GAA'

The following Tuesday it was my turn to drive to training. There were five of us studying in Dublin and we rotated the chauffeuring duties. Our meeting place was, surprisingly enough, just across the road from Flannery's pub on Camden Street, somewhere we were all quite familiar with. This particular evening I was running late because of a high-stakes FIFA battle with my housemates, which I lost. This meant I now had to bring lunchboxes to training and fill them up with food from the team's buffet table for the lads.

I ran out the door and jumped into my car. It was an 02 Volkswagen Golf, 1.9 diesel; my pride and joy. Many a calf had been sold to buy her. The tyres were so bald you could see your reflection in them, she was also full to the gills with green diesel and the tax was free, because I didn't pay it.

I'd been on a date the previous week, so it was cleaner than usual. I headed towards Camden Street, hitting the road in spots and breaking umpteen red lights along the way. Dublin was a chorus of car horns as my trusty Golf snaked through the traffic.

"Good of you to come lad, take your time why don't you!"

"Sorry lads, long story! Get in quick!" The four of them threw their gearbags into the boot and squeezed into the car. Now five hefty footballers in a Golf is a quite a squeeze. It was that tight you couldn't turn a sucky sweet in your mouth. "Have you seen today's paper lad?"

"'Inter-county player brands refereeing display as 'woeful' on Twitter'."

"Yea, I saw that, sure feck it, what are they gonna do? Be grand!"

We set off. Without a doubt, the journey from Dublin to training is one of my favourite parts of the week. Being a country lad in Dublin is great. You can act the mickey all the time; saying what you want to who you want because nobody knows who you are. So when you take not one, but five young country bulls in the big smoke, there's more crack than a bent-over builder.

The first thing is the music; we rotate the DJ duties. The lads are always under pressure to produce the goods. A good song will get a cheer and a pat on the back, while a bad song will be met with a tirade of abuse. As today's DJ anxiously scoured his iPod for the first tune, the four of us got a drumroll going on the windows. A good opener was vital.

'Oooooh sometimes I get a good feeling, Yeeeeeaaah.'

He'd nailed it and we attracted some strange looks from passers-by as we rolled down every window and went mental, fist-pumping and head-banging for our lives. "Turn up the bass!" The poor oul' Golf was swaying from side to side like a gosson after 10 cans of Dutch Gold.

One of the boys had an uncanny talent in that he was able to growl and bark like a dog and sound strangely realistic. A 'god-given-gift' he called it.

At traffic lights along the canal one evening he saw his chance; a middle-aged man in a suit was walking along the pavement, immersed in a newspaper.


The poor chap threw his paper ten feet into the air and stumbled, nearly ending up on his backside. Right on cue, the light went green and we sped off beeping the horn and wetting ourselves laughing.

Traffic lights are a wonderful invention; not only do they prevent accidents but they also provide endless fun for country bucks driving to training. In a queue of traffic, the car at the lights has 'the power'. When that light goes from red to green you have two options. You can tear off like an F1 car, beating the BMW in the lane beside you that you'd provoked by repeatedly revving your engine and staring at its driver; or you can sit and wait, and after about five seconds the horns will start.

But no matter what is shouted in your direction or how many beeps you hear, you do not move; it takes guts to do this. Then, when that amber light that you'd longed for so deeply appears, you 'make like a hockey-player, and get the puck out of there,' leaving ten or 15 drivers exploding with rage as the red light flicks on.

That day we were late for training after my FIFA exploits, so once we hit the motorway I opened her up. The car was shaking with the speed, under pressure big time. "Don't worry lads she's well able!"

"Guards, slow down."

I was going that fast that I didn't even have time to react, by the time I hit the brakes we'd gone by them. I looked in my mirror and my heart sank as I saw a flash of blue. I pulled into the hard shoulder and my forehead dropped onto the steering wheel. "Ah don't worry lad, tell him we're footballers and we're late for training. Guards love the GAA."

I watched in the mirror as the car door opened and the guard stepped out, he walked towards my car, stopping to look at my bald tyres along the way.

"Wait a minute is that . . . ? It couldn't be!"

I rolled down the window and looked in horror. Referees have day jobs too. "Hello officer."

"Would you look who it is! Small world! You were going shockin' fast there young man."

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