Aido goes to the Hill - part II
When we got out of the taxi we were starving. Shamie said he thought there was a McDonalds in Dublin and I said no way! Turns out there is one in Phibsboro - you learn something new every day. I thought we only had Supermacs in Ireland and we never go there because they sponsor that Galway shower. I have to admit I was really excited and Shamie had to tell me to stop singing ‘Da, da, da da, da - I’m lovin’ it’. ‘Everyone is looking at us ya feckin eejit’, he said.
There was a rough looking jackeen in front of us with a real thick head on him and a big skull on the back of his jacket with ‘Bohemian Dub’ wrote under it. He looked like an escapee from a Mad Max film. He was talking to his mate about the match and saying things like ‘I bleeding hate Mayo, them brothers are saps, they will never win Sam, hate them.’ Blah, blah, blah. I went up behind him and said ‘Do you have a problem with me and Shamie.’ He looked up and dropped his strawberry milkshake with the shock. Then he stuck a French fry up his nostril he was shaking so much. ‘No, no’ he stuttered, ‘You guys and Conor and even Mammy and Daddy are great. It’s the O’Connors I was talking about.’ Then he ran out the door, white as a ghost. Shamie shouted after him, ‘What about your Happy Meal?’ but he was gone. I was delighted because I got to keep his toy.
I ordered two Big Mac meals, both super size. Last time I had a Big Mac meal was in the States so finding one in Ireland was like finding fresh water in your dessert. Anyway as Mammy says I’m a growing lad and Daddy always adds only physically unfortunately. There were a few Mayo fans there but when we sat down we pulled our hoods up and pulled the cord tight. It meant we had privacy but made it hard to eat. I got a few mouthfuls of hood fur and there was a fair bit of ketchup on the fur too but it was delicious. We finished with a Creme Egg McFlurry - the icing on the apple pie so to speak. Shamie was so happy that now he started singing ‘Da, da, da da, da - I’m lovin’ it’. And sure we were. Next stop Croker as our great adventure continued.
‘Can we pay at the gate?’ I asked Shamie. ‘No’ he said. ‘I read it was all ticket. Sure them Dubs games are always all ticket and I think when they show their dole cards they get tickets for nothing – that’s why they do it that way. They even get to train in Croker all week because they don’t work as they are professional. I think we can get tickets at the ground but not off them Dublin tout fellas. They always charge more than the ticket is worth for some reason. There’s the ticket van there.’ I looked over and realised that Shamie’s eyesight is getting even worse. It was an ice cream van. ‘No’ I said ‘that’s not it – it’s further down the road there.’
Shamie had been practising his Dublin accent all week and was mad keen to try it out on a Dub. So he went up to the ticket van with his best Dublin accent and said ‘Howya bud, gis two tickets for the bleedin Hill like a good man.’ Then he pretended to take a call on the mobile and was saying things like ‘Story, horse, yeah that’s rapid, man, know what I mean, yeah, laters.’ Then he hung up and asked your man ‘What’s the damage there pal?’ The fella said ‘€30 … and what part of Mayo are ye from?’ Me and Shamie couldn’t believe it. 'How the feck did you know? Shamie asked. ‘It was the string holding up your trousers’ said your man.
The smell of drink queuing to get into the Hill was worse than the back of the church at Breaffy Sunday morning mass. It was weird being there among the enemy. They even have their own little shebeen which has Handball Club written outside but is clearly a place where you can buy Dutch Gold and cheap cigarettes. More favouritism for the Dubs. We went behind the goal and when Mayo came out Shamie jumped and hollered ‘woo hoo the Wesht is best.’ He completely forget where he was. I was sweating then I had a great idea. ‘Jaysus lads,’ I said, ‘not easy being this lad’s carer. Come on I’ll bring you to the toilet.’ And with that we escaped – just. I warned Shamie to keep his emotions in check. That’s rich coming from you he said and you blubbing like a baby here last year and you only won a quarter final.’
Then we very nearly got in even bigger trouble because Mammy saw Shamie’s jacket on the telly – it has a big pink fluffy hood. She rang and said ‘Where are ye bucks tonight?’ Shamie said ‘Watching the Mayo game here in a pub in Galway drinking Ribena.’ ‘What’s all that rough shouting and singing about? Ye’re on that bloody Hill 16 – ye’ll get killed.’ ‘We’re not Mammy’ said Shamie, ‘sure that’d be stone mad.’ Luckily Daddy was in the room and Shamie heard him saying ‘Them pair of halfwits wouldn’t be able to find Croke Park if ya left them on Clonliffe Road. Some other eejit must have a big girls coat like our lad’s too.’ She believed him thank God. She just told Shamie to make sure he said his decade of the rosary and to make sure to share the toothbrush before we went to bed. She’s great but it was a close escape.
The match was woeful and showed up how important the O’Sheas are to Mayo football. We were clueless without us. Daddy often says that Mayo teams are the Garth Brooks of football – they can’t perform at Croke Park – he’s right. But Cillian’s tactics were shocking and he is lost without me. When he went to take his first free we starting booing him for the craic and it soon took off. I was watching Stephen closely too and in fairness not one Mayo player was short of a drink of water when he needed it. Dublin ran riot and we looked like earwigs that were a bit startled as Kevin McStay said once I think. Conor only got about 10 minutes of a run and even in that time you could see how he would have completely changed the game if they started him. The rest were pure useless. Eat without salt Shamie said. Makes me wonder why we bother at all. Carrying these losers we are.
We found ourselves singing ‘C’mon ye boys in blue’ with the rest of the lads and I said to Shamie on the way out the sooner this transfer market in the GAA comes about the better. The Dubs would break the bank to get the pair of us and then my favourite fantasy of all could come through. I love standing in front of the mirror at home in my Dermo jersey pretending to be making a speech in the Hogan Stand. In the end I give three cheers to the losers as well. And it’s always Mayo.
[ps all obs welcome - good to know what parts you like and what you don’t!]