Picture the scene at RTE in the middle of the week. “Right lads, we need a couple of you to cover the Ulster Championship semi-final. Lads, lads, come back, it’ll be grand”
And as Pat Spillane and Colm O’Rourke were rounded up and bundled into the back of a car before being released in the Sunday Game studio it was clear that they were still bitter about it.
“Not to be blunt about it, I think it could be one of those horror shows from Ulster,” said Colm, his face tripping him.
At the break he was half right, Down forgetting to turn up and Monaghan racing into an unassailable lead, but at least Michael Lyster was having a good time.
“Gentlemen, you were telling me weren’t in for much of a match here, but that’s been an enjoyable first-half,” he said to startled bewilderment, a silent Spillane (and they say there are no miracles these days) before he regained the power of speech.
“Sorry Michael?” more spluttering, exasperation expressed to higher beings, total disdain and followed by the classic ‘it was like there was an announcement before the game would 15 Down fellas come in and bring your gear because we haven’t got a team.”
“It was men against boys, but not a good game, God save us,” he trailed off and 40 minutes later, with the 15 new Down players pulling off the second miracle of the day, we were back with Lyster now Ireland’s smuggest man.
“Okay, I’m taking back everything I said at half-time. I enjoyed that game, full of passion, full of endeavour,” said a crestfallen Spillane, as Lyster couldn’t resist an ‘I told you’.
“Give us a game like that every Sunday,” finished O’Rourke, and all left feeling Down and happy at the same time.