Friday 19 January 2018

Lottery winners' midas touch needed to improve Westmeath's chances of beating Dublin in Croker

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

IF there was ever any doubt, any doubt at all, I'm sure there's none now, none at all. She definitely has to love him now. My dad wrote in 'Sive' of a man who wasn't too decent to his wife when it came to presents. The husband brought her home 'a packet of musky sweets when the drink got the better of him on a fair day.'

And there was a story I heard lately of a man who brought a heifer 10 miles to the vet in a horsebox, but left the long suffering wife take the bus to the doctor in the city.

But the Westmeath suitors are a different breed of romantic altogether. Flowers are not enough even when the blooms are accompanied by a box of chocolates with two centres, like Munster rugby.

Kevin Geoghegan from Mullingar bought a Lotto ticket last week for his new girlfriend Carol Loran – with her money. It was a lovely gesture. The couple won e10.5m. Kevin, what are you going to do for the second date?

Maybe you could chance bringing Carol to the big game in Croke Park. With your luck, Westmeath are bound to beat Dublin. If you threw a million on in the local bookies, where Carol works– or maybe used to work – could well be the case now, well then the investment would net the untidy sum of e7m.

Yes Westmeath are big outsiders against the Dubs in Croke Park today. Surely the game should have been played in Cusack Park in Mullingar, but like the Lotto, it's all about money. The spin-off for Mullingar would be huge.

The Dubs are spenders. Every time the Dubs piggy back over The Red Cow into the country, it's an excuse for a party. Dublin manager Jim Gavin says he misses away games.

Mick O' Dwyer said Kerry were at a distinct disadvantage at home in Fitzgerald Stadium. Micko maintained the players spent too much time looking up at the stands trying to spot loved ones. The greatest manager of them all often had his tongue stuck so far into his cheek, it seemed as if he had a traffic cone in his mouth.

Psychologist Nick Marshallsay wrote in The Body Language Phrasebook 'that biting one's tongue is a way of suppressing laughter.' But does tongue- in-cheek achieve the same results. I selflessly turned myself into a human laboratory.

On went my Conal Gallen DVD and the laughing was unstoppable.

My favourite is the one where there's an empty seat in the middle of the Hogan Stand at an All-Ireland final between Kerry and Dublin. This Dub turns to the Kerryman sitting next to him and says: "I can't believe that seat next to you hasn't been taken up."

"Ah," says the Kerryman, who is wearing a black tie underneath his green and gold jersey, "it belongs to the wife. She is unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances."

"And why is that?" asks the Dub.

"It wasn't the wife's fault," says the Kerryman, loyally. "She's attending her own funeral."

In went the tongue, into the cheek. I wasn't able to laugh as much as the slightest skitter of a giggle.

As we said, Gavin misses travelling down the country for away games. For the record, here's Jim's statement. "You get a lot from just even being on the bus with the guys and you get time to sit down and talk to them."

Now Jim might well be serious.

But what about the 46A , or the 69x, which seems suspiciously like it was named after someone's favourite blue movie, or the 36B, also a bra size for a woman who fills the jersey well and travels the route from Burlington Road to some place called Damastown, which is surely not too far away from the country.

Then there's the Viking Splash bus and the touristy ones without roofs. Topless buses, in a land where it rains occasionally, all the time. There's no shortage of buses in Dublin, Jim.

Westmeath would have a much better chance of winning in Mullingar. We haven't seen Westmeath play for a while, but from looking at the team sheet, they will trouble Dublin. And if the midlanders win, the Dubs security of tenure in Croker will be renewed for another 50 years. But this is a very good Dublin team. I love the way Gavin has them playing. The Dubs can afford to be more adventurous now, what with classy and big new forwards coming through almost every month.

Dublin legend Kevin Heffernan died last January and, for some reason, a quote from Heffo's captain and friend Tony Hanahoe was lost in translation. Tony doesn't do interviews and maybe he has good cause. I take the opportunity, though, of quoting Tony on this the first championship game since Kevin's passing. Here's what Tony said.

"Kevin was very methodical. He put across his point forcefully, if he had to. Kevin did so much for the GAA nationally and maybe he never got the recognition he deserved."

Then heffo went to Australia and managed the Irish team to win the series. That was the measure of the man.

"He will be greatly missed, especially in St Vincent's. Kevin was the life blood of our club for so many years. He was true too, in every way, to his county.

"Kevin Heffernan was a Renaissance man who lifted the city in bad times. 'And the Dubs are still lifting the city, in bad times, but will they lift the Sam? Maybe, but the bus is only at the first stop."

Irish Independent

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