Monday 23 September 2019

Pandy stuffing can decide this one but Munster must not mash it up

The late, great Anthony Foley is sure to be smiling down on Munster. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
The late, great Anthony Foley is sure to be smiling down on Munster. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

The message couldn't have been clearer: "Go on son, ate up another dollop of pandy."

"Ah, but sure I can't mammy. Haven't I to play a match tomorrow. Rassie will ate me if I come in to work with the belly spilling out over the top of the togs."

"Go on son, isn't it your favourite? And there's a trifle with cream and the Christmas cake made by your great grandmother in 1937."

The buttery, pandy stuffing is unpassuppable when it has been allowed to soak up the juice dripping from the inside pockets of the turkey's waistcoat. Pandy is another word for mashed potato or is it mash potato? I'll leave that little culinary conundrum to yourselves.

Mash or mashed has me addled and it has all of us addled here in the overworked Irish Independent quality control department.

Pandy, for the record, is made from potatoes, Irish butter equal in volume to a lazy farmer's dung heap, finely chopped ingins (onions), and full-on full-fat milk as thick as Santa's waist. Pound it all up and stuff your turkey in the Caherdavin End.

Indeed, we've heard stories of a family who only roasted the turkey for the potato stuffing.

The family threw away the bird. They were known as the Dan Paddy Pandys.

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This imposed restraint is very unfair on the rugby players, soccer stars and jockeys. There they are with a big game or a big race on St Stephen's Day and the sports people have to push their chairs so far back from the table, they are unable to reach the food.

I was talking to Barry Geraghty one Christmas Eve in Listowel and he told me a good chew was a lovely treat. Barry won the King George two days later on Kicking King. And he won the following year as well.

Pity the poor jockeys who have to guard their weight to the ounce when everyone else around the table is feasting. There are some terrible punishments for eating too much. Did I read that it takes two jogs around the world with Mick Galwey on your back to work off a big feed of porter?

I'm sure Rassie Erasmus and Leo Cullen will be telling their players to take it handy enough although there are dietary theories which state that bulking up on carbs is a great way of building reserves of energy. Still, though, you wouldn't want to be brought into Thomond on a wheelbarrow.

Moderation is the key. There's nothing worse for the cook than to see a hungover diner moving the food from side to side like one of those over-coached, lateral- passing Gaelic football teams. And congrats to Ballydonoghue who play it direct. Last Sunday they won their first North Kerry championship in 24 years.

The season of goodwill and love will not last too long for the Munster and Leinster players. Just two days in fact. They will tear in to each other on St Stephen's Day. Munster and Leinster head up Pro12 table. Thomond is sold out.

Our guess is the sell-out was down to tickets being given as Christmas presents and to the enduring legacy of Anthony Foley. I have some experience of what it is to be without a loved one at Christmas. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Foley family.

Axel could never pass up on a big feed and the love of his family. He will definitely be sitting at the table in Killaloe on Christmas Day. His sister Orla spoke of her big brother's integrity at the Irish Independent Sportstar awards on Monday night. Dad Brendan and sister Rosie were there too. You couldn't met nicer or sounder.

Declan Coyle tries to explain in his book The Green Platform why it is bad things happen to good people. He quotes Fr Pierre Cardin: "In the final analysis the question of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, and what do we intend to do now that it has happened."

The Foleys have been so impressive. Their sorrow is real and painful but somehow through the leadership given by Olive Foley in Killaloe's little church, good people are doing good things.

And deep into a night when Axel was posthumously named in the Hall of Fame, I came up with a really good idea. What about the Foley-Lomu Trophy, for the winners of Ireland and the All Blacks? The Cup would honour two proper porting heroes who passed away this year. I hope those in high places will take up the idea and run with it.

This year's second best Christmas idea and big tip is to take the giblets out of the plastic bag hidden deep inside the turkey in a place only reachable by those with small hands or pincers for fingers.

Why the turkey farmers continue to do this is beyond me. It would be easier to strip the ball from James Ryan or Seán O'Brien than to get out the giblets. There's nothing worse than plastic pandy.

As for the rugby, I'm afraid I stuffed the column with food. Munster might win if they take it handy on Christmas day. Turkey breast is very low in fat but pandy stuffing puts on pounds. I'll take my chances with the stuffing but I don't have to go haring around Thomond on the day of our biggest derby. Have to?

I never say I have to write a column. I get to write a column. I'm a lucky man. Swap "get to" for "have to" and I promise you Christmas, and the rest of the year, will be much the happier.

Thank you to all those of you who sent cards. Here's mine to you. The great thing about getting to write a piece to be published on Christmas Eve is I get to wish you all a very happy Christmas.

Mind yourselves and everyone else too.

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