Belfast Telegraph

Down on the up and lovely girls have right Royal day

By Billy Weir - On The Box

BBC NI was feeling more than a little Down on Saturday as the sports team was on a double mission, starting off with the Ulster Derby meeting at Down Royal and then following the fortunes of the Mournemen against Monaghan in the Ulster Championship semi-final.

I say 'sport' for at the Maze, Gavin Andrews did his best to keep hold of the reins but he was soon overshadowed by Sarah Travers and Lady and Chanelle McCoy, respective wives of Sir AP and Tony, as it quickly all went a bit Father Ted on us.

The 'Best Dressed' competition quickly became all-consuming and car crash TV, as Sarah, who fought a battle all day not to lose her hat, was soon losing the plot as we went into the champagne tent to see the finalists.

Mayhem ensued, lots of lovely girls walking up and down a makeshift catwalk, and if only Pete Snodden had had the presence of mind to tell us that 'of course, they all have lovely bottoms' he would have become a legend.

A lady in red won, her name, or someone else's, read out, it was hard to keep track in all the confusion, and Sarah, in mild panic, shouted out "where's our winner?"

"Maybe she has passed out with delight backstage... While we find her, why don't we go back to Gavin?" she pleaded and we did before being whisked off to see, and I promise I am not making this up, a horse dentist in action, and by now if Mrs Doyle had turned up in the champagne tent with a teapot, no one would have batted an eyelid.

The lovely lady in red was found, probably dancing with Chris de Burgh behind the tent, and we hope she enjoys her cruise in the Caribbean, while for the BBC NI team it was a shorter trip to Armagh for part two of their Down double.

Mark Sidebottom told us this was a battle of "Mourne granite against Monaghan marble, one will splinter and shatter, the other will stand strong and tall," and win a no-expenses paid trip to Clones to play Tyrone.

This was to be a one-horse race, but not for the first time that day being dressed in red seemed to bring success, and a truly epic game ensued.

"Agghh, it's all over," screamed co-commentator Martin McHugh, either in excitement or commentator Thomas Niblock had spilled a cup of Mrs Doyle's finest over him.

"Some days you get to whoop and to holler, Down granite prevails, Mourne marble shatters and we've seen one shattering 75 minutes," said Sidebottom, a little confused but it was an exciting day so we'll let it go.

What we won't let go is his handing over to hero of the hour, Connaire Harrison.

"That they are back in an Ulster final is down to a man called Harrison, not Harrison Ford, but he has become a star today," he said as hopes arose that the proud empire of Down could strike back again and become raiders of the lost Croke Park in the hunt for a red and black hot September.

Possibly, but beware the clear and present danger of Tyrone, and definitely stay clear of the champagne tent, things don't always go according to plan in there.

Belfast Telegraph

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