The morning after Edendork’s triumph in the Tyrone Intermediate Final, I bumped into one of the players outside the court in Dungannon.
“Can you run me up to the Square Bar, Joe? I’m too drunk to drive.”
Which reminds me of a yarn Terry Jennings Jnr told me once about his father, God rest him. Leaving the St. Vincent’s club in Dublin one night after winning a championship in the ‘50s, he said, “Thank God I’ve the car. I’m so drunk I’d never be able to walk home.”
The Edendork boys had been drinking in the clubhouse until the cock crowed. At 11am next morning, they resumed in the Square Bar. Darren McCurry, aka “ The Dazzler” (a name he himself chose), was in attendance. There are only a small handful of people entitled to talk about themselves in the third person. These are Floyd Mayweather, Hugo Duncan and the heavyweight champion of the world. I bumped into Hugo once at a wake. He has that happy bearing of the character in ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’ who challenged random people he met to, “Punch me in the stomach, Go on, punch me in the stomach.”
I said to Hugo, “How are you?”
“Hugo’s doing great Joe, he’s absolutely flying.”
“I thought you were Hugo,” I said.
He looked at me and said, “I am.”
“Oh good, for a moment there I thought you were talking about someone else.”
At which point my father elbowed me to stop.
‘The Dazzler’ is a teetotaller, so at his request, the cup was filled with Fanta. No sooner had he had his sip, than it was dumped into the sink and replenished with fire water.
When we won the All-Ireland, we arrived in Dungiven about the Tuesday. The clubhouse was thronged. At around midnight, Joe O’Neill, philosopher and owner of Joe’s Bar on the Main Street, led us down the street to his west bank establishment. When he reached the front door, he flung it open dramatically and said, “Gentlemen. Welcome to reality.” We were still there at dawn.
I remember one night not long ago after the current generation won a Derry senior hurling championship, they ran out of coal in the pub, so the boys burned their tracksuits.
Sadly, Joe’s refined sensibilities were not shared by the authorities. And so, as was inevitable, it all came to an end one fateful morning in Limavady Magistrate’s Court.
Prosecutor: Officer, can you tell His Worship where you went on the morning of the 7th?
Police man: I went with a colleague to Joe’s Bar on the Main Street in Dungiven.
Prosecutor: Why did you go there?
Police man: There had been a football match the previous day and we had reason to believe there may be late drinking going on.
Prosecutor: At what time did you enter the premises?
Police man: Can I consult my notes Your Worship?
Judge: Did you make them at the time?
Police man: I did Your Worship.
Judge: Yes, you may.
Police man: We entered the establishment by the rear door, which was open, at half past seven in the morning.
Prosecutor: Can you describe what happened?
Police man: There were roughly a dozen people in the lounge. As we entered, I saw a gentleman sitting alone at a table close to the door, who appeared to be drinking a pint of Guinness. I asked him, “What are you drinking sir?”
Prosecutor: And did he reply?
Police: He did Your Worship (consults notebook). He said “Thanks lads, but I’m happy enough on my own. You work away yourselves.”
There is always a worry about lads overdoing it, especially at this time of the year when club championships are reaching their climaxes and boys who’ve been living like monks suddenly let rip. They would be more careful if they ever heard Professor Crane, the State Pathologist, describing in drunken-brawl death cases, how alcohol affects the brain. A good trick is to drink a glass of water for every drink you have. It protects your brain and your spinal chord.
I was reading the pen pics in the program for the Joe Brolly Cup last weekend, which is the Derry Junior Championship Cup, named after my grandfather. Drum, where my father was born, were playing Faughanvale. The printer obviously didn’t read the stuff coming in from the Drum lads. Niall Farren, grinning broadly in his pic, described his best career moment as, “The time I head-butted Conor in his stupid face.” One of the Moore boys gave his occupation as “Taxidermist.” My favourite was Niall Ferris’ entry, whose biggest career influence was “Chuck Norris.”
Now there’s a man entitled to talk about himself in the third person.