Leitrim goes West again!

The following is an article by Tommy Moran published in this weeks Leitrim Observer Match Supplement. Many thanks to Tommy and the Observer for the kind permission to use this amusing piece here. Further match related stories available here: Leitrim Observer – Sport

Salthill is no Coney Island and the roads through Williamstown and Dunmore are not just as appealing as the Van Wyck Expressway, but Leitrim are going West again anyway.
Some weeks ago, we worried about the currency exchange, would the dollar hold good for another while. We went on-line or to Bradys Travel or to relations looking for the cheapest flights and most central hotels.

We contacted the Christmas card relations to let them know we were making the trip they have encouraged us to make for years – would they be as happy with the news when they heard that not only were we coming ourselves but that the whole gang was on the march?

Bags were packed. They were too bloody heavy, out came the luxuries. Sure we could buy toothpaste, socks and underpants in New York if we were stuck. In went the Leitrim jersey, the adapter, the Leitrim t-shirt and all the caps, badges, flags and colours we had invested in in 1994.

7th Avenue would be swarming not only with Masonite but with McGovern Bros, Jimmys of Dromod, City Recovery, and Gandon Securities – plus every possible green and gold combination, together with a cacophany of club colours from the Black and Amber of the Bors down to the Blue and White of Melvin Gaels.

The Singing Cowboy in the centre of Manhattan surely had a multicoloured audience. Reports had it that some Leitrim jerseys were spotted in the darkened corners of the Gentlemans Club on 7th Avenue, parting with their crisp $50 notes for a private lapdance or to see a less than over-dressed blonde shimmying up a pole.

How Tom Guckian wished he had got $50 every time he went up and down a pole in his days with the ESB around Carrick. If he had, he could clear the debt in Páirc Sean – and on his own Páirc Tom.

There used to be a lap dancing club in Salthill – but it had closed down from lack of business. They mustnt have been fixing enough matches in Pearse Stadium to keep the place going. Either that or people are getting a bit of wit.

No, were not going to New York for the Galway match, but well still be in the nearest county grounds to Gaelic Park. So the game should nearly have the same "getaway" appeal as our last outing.

For that one many returned to the fold, Rosaleen Joyce, Catherine McTague Maura Sweeney and Damien OBrien to name but a few from Ballinamore alone. RosaleenÓgot really caught up in the excitement – roaring at John McKeon that he was kicking the ball the wrong way in the second half.

Then someone told her that teams change sides at half time. She still cant understand it – she says she never saw a golfer playing the ball from the hole back to a tee, even after a break. But she was one better than Maura Sweeney.

Maura made the journey to New York but never made it to Gaelic Park. She spent the time in Macys on 34th Street, probably trying to get a few bargains before Olivia and the professional shoppers hit it on the Monday. Damien OBrien swears hell never miss a Leitrim match again. Well, at least any time they play in New York.

Just like going to the Big Apple some will head off to Galway inÓgood time to soak up the atmosphere.No doubt my own lads Garrett and Eamon will be linking up with Conor Mahon, Mark Dolan, Barry Doyle and a host of others around Eyre Square on Saturday night – just to make sure poor old Padraig OConaire wont be lonely there on his own.

Padraigs main claim to fame is through his book "Masal beag dubh". No doubt he has noticed that the 4x4s and the Space Wagons have replaced the asal for family transport.

But no doubt he still hears plenty of asals roaring around Eyre Square, especially at weekends when the chipper follows the disco on the Saturday night schedule.

Padraig OConaire could write. A pity he cant talk, hed be better than any CCTV for the Guards. Not many will head from Leitrim to Galway for the game in the ass and cart, but theyll come in all modes of transport — Micras, Passats, Mercs, Octavias, while many will opt for the local minibus or coach and have no hassle about been bagged.

Our well travelled Dublin contingent will opt for Iarnród Éireann — and hope that the train makes it the whole way this time.

Hats, flags and colours will be set up at every vantage point, as well as the gourmet hot dogs, hamburgers and plastic chicken sandwiches. And, of course, the lucky, lucky ice-cream. Everyone is out to make a buck – a GAA game in any town does no harm to the local economy. Some people refer to the GAA as the grab all association, but dont mind making use of it to grab a bit for themselves.

The first Galway-Leitrim clash in Pearse Stadium was back in 1957. We went by bus from Ballinamore that day and I remember we had lost Mary Ann Keegan and Mary Ann McAllister when we were ready to head back home. We lost the match too — and weve lost out to Galway a few times since.

And so the pundits, the experts, the commentators and the bookies will be giving about the same chance of a Leitrim win on Sunday as a return of Our Lady to Knock. Liam Sammon will be trying to tell his players otherwise, but at the back of their minds Padraig Joyce and the rest will really be having on eye on the Connacht Final.

Well leave the team tactics and pep-talks in the capable hands of Dessie, Barney, Pat, Noel and George who well know how to motivate and prepare Leitrim.

Our job is to go and support. There can Scórcely be anything more disheartening for a player than to see his neighbours and so-called supporters arses disappearing into the tunnel and heading for the gates with 20 minutes still to go, just because the team is a few points behind.

If theres any early exit from Pearse Stadium, let it be a Galway one – let them out to the slot-machines to try to win something, because theyre not going to win the match. Leitrim people dont intend to go through the horrors of crawling through Claregalway and then having to park out near Connemara just to put up a good show.

At half time the RTE panel will be trying to analyse whats wrong. Galway werent supposed to be behind and struggling badly.

Joe Brolly will be laughing anyway, but still talking about a Galway resurrection. Colm ORourke will probably say the referee is too small, that hes not letting any hard marking, that Emlyn Mulligan is getting too many handy frees.

Poor Michael Lyster will be speechless — his native Galway on the back-foot in Salthill!

P.S. A bit of good news for Colm. InÓgaelic Park I saw Jackie McTague with a referees whistle —- now theres the solution. Give Jackie the Meath County Final and let the two teams at each other. She wouldnt bother about red cards or yellow cards or even the black book.

And another thing you could be sure of — thered be no dissent. Jackie might evenÓget the All Ireland. But hopefully she wont be in line for it, because Leitrim take another step to Croke Park next Sunday.





11-Jun-08 by Tommy Moran / LM Observer