Belfast Telegraph

Gary's madcap dash from Belfast to Budapest via Larne to savour a hat-trick of wins

By Nevin Farrell

A sports-mad accountant has travelled thousands of miles by plane, taxi, bus and car from Belfast to Budapest in a single weekend to see his heroes notch up a hat-trick of victories on the pitch and in the ring.

Gary Shufflebottom (27) took on a globetrotting challenge to see Carl Frampton become a world champion, Northern Ireland claim their first away win in four years... and Bangor beat Larne.

Gary's madcap 49-hour journey began at 2pm on Saturday and he did not open his front door until 3pm on Monday after a trip clocking up thousands of miles across Europe.

Now living in Belfast, Gary's first port of call was Larne at 3pm, where he saw Bangor – the town he is originally from – record a 2-1 win in an Irish League clash.

There may only have been two dozen hardcore fans watching the Championship One game – but it was a very different story at the next venue, where a roaring crowd of 16,000 were about to witness Northern Ireland's biggest sporting spectacle of the year.

From Larne it was on to the 'Titanic Showdown' where Carl Frampton delivered the fight of his career to beat Kiko Martinez and take the World super-bantamweight title in a thrilling moment of Northern Irish boxing history.

But even that wasn't enough – within hours Gary was off to catch a flight to see Northern Ireland record a 2-1 win in Hungary to get their Euro 2016 campaign off to a flying start.

"It was worth every penny, money well spent," said Gary.

"I reckon it cost me less than £500 – including the cost of having to pay for a direct flight to Budapest, which I cancelled when I decided to go to the Frampton fight. Budapest is a very cheap city.

"It was a brilliant, two days on the road. I love Bangor and try to see them most weeks.

"It was a good start when Bangor got a win in Larne. There were probably only 20 Bangor fans there but it was a different story in the Titanic Quarter with 16,000 fans roaring on Carl Frampton.

"I would be a boxing fan and have seen Carl in action before. It was great to be part of what was one of the greatest ever sporting occasions in Northern Ireland.

"Then, after nipping home for a few hours, I was on a bus at 3am on Sunday to head to Dublin airport to catch a flight to Slovakia and then travel by bus to Hungary to take in the Northern Ireland match in Budapest.

"I had travelled to Budapest more in hope than expectation and after we went 1-0 down with 15 minutes to go I thought, 'Oh no here we go again,' but I was delighted at the turnaround. I was over the moon. I have been away with Northern Ireland before but this was the first time I saw them win away from Windsor Park.

"Taking in all three sporting events within such a short period of time was a great experience –and I would do it all again."

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