GAA management sim: it's game on with this real cracker
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening ... . ah, yes, Christmas.
What a most wonderful time of the year when we express our love for a man who subjected himself to torture, in order that we might be free to act the goat and order up instant forgiveness like it was a grande latte.
Not that we aren't grateful of course. We go out of our way to honour him by spending disposable income on chunky-knit clothes, and then there's the soundtrack to Christmas – Michael Buble – a man with the most unfortunate affliction of being photographed every time he seems to be adjusting his cufflinks or taking off his bow-tie.
Chances are that your mind is already turning to picking out presents.
If you are, let us help you with your choices for the man in your life.
Without further ado, we announce that we are releasing a video game in the next month, 'Sidelines'. Simulating the entire experience of being an inter-county manager, it's fun for all the family, although like Yorkie bars, it's not really for girls.
Basically, the idea is only in the development stages yet. We are even considering a board game version but that will depend of profit margins. Rest assured though, it will be out and on the shelves in time for the rush.
Back in 2007, you might recall a similar venture entitled 'Bainisteoir', which simulated the life of a hurling manager. Our game is not a straight lift. Any notion of copyright breaches will be dealt by way of ignoring legal correspondence.
Our product, instead, would bear a much closer resemblance to reality. For example there will be enormous mobile phone bills that you will run up on our 'Contented Player' hotline, which in reality will be the talking clock in China. But if you don't keep the lines of communication open, you run the risk of player strike, because it's your role to keep 34 young men happy.
At the start, you will be faced with the first level – 'Training Ban'. This is where you drive all over the county and locate unmarked pitches for furtive training sessions, yet keep news of such events away from under the noses of reporters.
Then there are trials when for the sake of appearances, you will be forced to stand on a virtual sideline in wet footwear.
Of course, there is an add-on of a weather simulator; a hose dotted with a line of fine holes which you attach one end to the tap, the other end to the curtain rail, stand underneath and get a third party to open the faucet gently, creating a fine rain that soaks you through.
The weather stimulator will retail at a modest £49.99 but we strongly advise gamers to add to the authenticity of the gaming experience.
After that, the next stage of the game concerns fundraising. Will you go down the White Collar boxing avenue, a series of golf spectaculars, or can you polish up your small talk and powers of persuasion on various sugar daddies around the county of your choice?
Once the financial side of your project is complete, you advance to the 'Strength and Conditioning' level.
Caution here is key. Make a wrong move and you could have a trainer who will end up exhorting players to push vehicles around the training ground car park, or else running up banks giving piggy-backs.
Remember, you had a finite level of cash at the start, so the 'expenses' of such experts will be a real test of judgement at an early stage.
To enhance your experience, we recommend you buy official 'Sidelines' brown envelopes. They may appear plain and unremarkable but they have an ability to disappear once they travel under a table. A dozen envelopes will cost you merely £20.
Once you have your backroom in place, your panel picked and the accounts sorted, you might also have noted a certain stabbing sensation in your back. Don't be alarmed, that is just some disgruntled club delegates and county board officials asserting their presence.
At this point the game can revert to a 'beat em up' version, or else you can choose to bring individuals into the circle of trust. Be warned however, as this can drain your own power bar and that of the team.
Early prototypes of the game indicate that untrammelled aggression is possibly the best form of action in these scenarios.
We are going to stop there as we don't want to spoil the rest of the surprise. Get your man a jumper if you want. But if you want to disabuse him of his coaching ambition, grab a copy of 'Sidelines'.