Wednesday 24 April 2019

Comment: Topping up my tan has helped solve football's riddle of the sands

Derry GAA will examine the footage
Derry GAA will examine the footage
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

I'm lying on a beach out foreign and as sure as the tides come in and the tides go out, so too do the columns.

The mud at the Ploughing Match was like the trenches of the Somme. You would have to feel for the competitors and the organisers. But I wasn't sent out here to write about the ploughing. The only furrows I ever ploughed were on the brows of those who tried to mind me.

The storms sent the conkers falling back to the womb and so the regeneration begins in the woodland. This is the conker season and small children crack conkers until the loser is left with no more than a piece of string. But I'm not writing about the ancient game of conkers either.

I am worn out after the Listowel Races but we were out the door last night before our bags hit the ground. Where else would a bar man go on his mini-break only to an Irish pub. The talk out here is of GAA and little else.

I'm not going to say where I am, as all the other countries will be dead jealous. Such is the life of a trendsetter and a style icon. I noticed several wearing the same T-shirt as me and many have now gone along with my fashion statement of dispensing with the socks inside the sandals. Some say I am the Paul Galvin of my day.

The autumn collection of topless women are togged out here on the beach. There are nearly as many as you'd find in the dispatch department of a Milan mannequin factory.

The belly button of the conker-brown lady lying next to me is brimming over sun oil. Her man dips in his finger in it as if he was blessing himself from a holy water font.

You could dislodge plaque with the one slender strand of string holding her togs together. Her man's name sounds like Ludo, which might be short for Ludwig. It was nearly an hour since the last GAA talk.

I was going to say to Ludo, "Wasn't it great about Limerick?". But Ludo gave most of the day nibbling at your one's ear.

And yes indeed I too dared to be brave and bare. I went topless myself.

What else would a man get to thinking at times like this, and he a foreign correspondent, only the much-maligned game of Gaelic football?

My North County Dublin friends arrived down for the Listowel Races the week before last, as they have done for many years. They are football fanatics. Joe Flood even sent me a beautifully-crafted number plate with Dublin four-in-a-row inscribed on same. The Dubs are in great form and why wouldn't they be? Didn't their mighty team just win their first ever four-in-a-row which was a truly significant moment in history.

My friends are well entitled to celebrate and to be fair the boys did their best to remain modest but Dublin is gone crazy.

And sure didn't Kerry go stone mad as well when we won the first our four-in-a-rows back in 1932. Men ate a second and even a third egg for the breakfast when news reached home on the Tuesday after the game. The women made pancakes and it not even Shrove Tuesday.

So that's what I was thinking about on the beach this afternoon and I was also thinking about picking the greatest team of all time. I gave the matter due consideration and several hours later I came up with the answer. It was the Listowel Emmets team that won the 1976 North Kerry Championship.

I wish I didn't have to come to a decision on the award for the greatest county team of all time but such is the life of an out-foreign columnist. One must be prepared put one's life on the line at times.

I couldn't nominate the Kerry four-in-a-row team of 1932, or World War One Wexford either, because I never saw them play.

It drives me nuts when lads come out with statements like County X are the greatest team of all time when they haven't seen all the rest. So my team is the best I have seen since I reached the age of reason.

There are some who know me well and they contend I was 50 before I reached the age of reason, and that state of being is temporarily suspended every time I pass the 30-mile-an-hour limit.

My thought processes were disrupted. Ludo and the lady with the eroded earlobe are after having a row. Ludo was sent by herself to buy and ice cream and as the 99 was melting in the searing heat, he had no option but to eat it.

Herself walked off in a huff and poor Ludo discovered love has more ups and downs than a game of Snakes and Ladders.

It's decision time. I played on the same team as three of the players on my greatest team, namely P ó Sé, Seán Walsh and Tim Kennelly.

I played against the rest of the best team ever. Kerry 1997 were doughty. Dublin of the seventies and eighties were as good as you could find. Dublin of the now are well worthy of a nomination.

But, without doubt, the finest inter-county team off all time was the Kerry team of the Golden Years. Unquestionably.

I should know. I was there.

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