Saturday 16 December 2017

How Berlusconi and Mara really saved day for Trap

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

PJ Mara must land on the rock, even if he dies in the descent. Country before self. The howling wind is a banshee. Mara's chopper is losing height. The wild Atlantic rages like a sacked councillor who knows he will never again get to claim expenses for travelling to sheep-dip committee meetings five counties away.

Mist covers the island like a shroud and Mara goes back into the mists of time. He misses Charlie. What was that one he used to say? "Mara, it's time to get off the island when the sheep start winking at you." Mara laughs. Island lore has always been part of his life, but this is no laughing matter. They have been circling for more than an hour now, waiting for a break in the cloud cover.

There are four more passengers on the chopper. An old man is being cared for by three beautiful girls. Mara has seen this man before. Maybe it was in the tent at Galway Races. He has that dodgy 'a nod is as good as a wink' look about him.

One of the nurses applies an oxygen mask to her frail patient as the pilot declares: "We're going in."

This is no Inishvickillane fastness. PJ Mara has landed on the Faroe Islands. His mission? To save the head of Signor Giovanni Trapattoni.

The taxi man greets Mara with "terrible bleedin' weather." He was Brian Kerr's driver when Brian was manager of the Faroes.

The old man embraces Trap. "I am here for you Giovanni." Trap groans. As if things weren't bad enough.

Mara overhears the old boy introduce one of his nurses as Bella Lucia, the next MEP for Napoli, and a former second runner-up in the Mary from Dungloe pageant.

Mara knows his man now. It's Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy. The man who gave the English language Bunga Bunga. It means orgy. More or less.

Mara laughs derisorily. Bunga Bunga is but a Tupperware party compared to the carry-on by the lads from the country when they come up for the Ard Fheis.

Trap is worried. He knows he is for the sack. Manuela Spinelli, his beautiful translator, enters the room. She exudes class and confidence. Every man turns in her direction. The room ticks with spinal clicks as the men's necks crick. Silvio promises Manuela the governorship of the Italian Central Bank.

The negotiations were tense. FAI chief executive John Delaney was impressed when a member of the powerful Keane family, who control most of the Dublin karaoke business, brought a message of support from the players. Robbie begged for Trap to keep his job. "It's the only way I will get my place," he says.

After much toing and froing, Delaney brings in the verdict. Trap stays, but there are conditions. The first is that Trap must to go Norwich to see Wes hoolahan.

Manuela breaks down in tears. "Poor Giovanni. Norwich in October. It will kill him. The cold. The damp. Can he not watch a DVD of Wes and his greatest hits?"

"No, that's it," says John. "No compromise. It's either Norwich or the sack."

And there's more. Trap must attend the Dunfanaghy United Christmas party dressed as Santa Claus and call the numbers at the Tramore Athletic monster bingo and do quizmaster at the Listowel Celtic table quiz.


Mara's advice was to suffer on "and when we hammer the Swedes like we did in Clontarf, he can tell the FAI where to go."

Berlusconi agrees. His nurse shrieks with delight. The former Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann lap dancing champion is the new Irish Ambassador to The Holy See.

Silvio promised 200 jobs for Ireland. In the hospitality industry. Dodgeeeee. "I have you now," he says to Mara. "You were Signor Charlie's consigliore." Mara bids his farewells.

Meanwhile, Trapattoni and his translator are lost in the fen country near Norwich.

"I have a plan," announces Trap in Italian. "Why don't we go into The Duck and Drake and watch the match on TV?"

They sip a chianti and Manuela, more Irish now than Italian, recites a little Kavanagh for Papa Trap.

Every old man I see

In October-coloured weather

Seems to say to me

"I was once your father."

Irish Independent

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