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Belfast pubs The American Bar and The Sunflower play exhibition football match during Twelfth

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Game on: The teams made up of staff from the bars

Game on: The teams made up of staff from the bars

The teams enjoy a drink after game

The teams enjoy a drink after game

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Game on: The teams made up of staff from the bars

While it may not have stirred as much passion as England versus Italy in Sunday night’s Euro final, a crucial tie between two formidable foes took place on Monday afternoon.

Belfast was the scene for the inaugural inter-pub exhibition championship match between two of the city’s most popular hostelries — The American Bar and The Sunflower.

The last 18 months have been devastating for the hospitality trade, so staff from the two watering holes decided to play the match for a bit of fun ahead of their work do.

Pedro Donald, owner of both pubs, explained: "Well, we only have two days off the whole year, bar Covid of course.

"That’s the Twelfth and Christmas Day. We can’t do anything on Christmas, so we would have our annual staff do on the Twelfth of July.

"We would normally get everyone together and jump on a bus to go somewhere for the work do,  to the Kinnegar Brewery in Donegal or somewhere like that. 

"Obviously, we couldn't do that this year with the Covid  restrictions on travel and all that, which is unfortunate.

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"So we decided to bring football into the mix and headed up to the pitch at the Waterworks.

"The American has just been extended, so we had more staff and were able to muster up eight-a-side. Previously we would have only been able to wrangle together maybe five-a-side. "

While there was no European Championship glory on the line, the teams vied for bragging rights and a shiny trophy.  England and Italy had to go all the way through extra time and penalties in Sunday night’s final, but such a close finish was not to be for the two pub teams.

Mr Donald added: "It went surprisingly well. In the end, the Sunflower won 4-1.

"The past 18 months has been awful for the hospitality industry, so it was good to get everyone together and have a bit of craic, which it absolutely was.

"Having everyone together in the decent weather, after everything, for a bit of friendly competition and drinks after — you couldn’t beat it.”


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