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The delayed but necessary player ratings from the Father Ted All-Priests Over 75s Challenge Match

Football is not a matter of life and death. It’s much more important than that.

WHEN FR DOUGAL Maguire said that ‘There’s nothing at all stupid about the All-Priests 5-a-side Over 75s Indoor Football Challenge Match,’ he wasn’t exaggerating.

There are few events in history that transcend a sport and the challenge match between Craggy Island and their rivals over there on Rugged Island is no token inclusion.

For long periods of Ireland’s beloved Fr Ted, we thought the bitter association between the isolated dwellings was driven by the disharmony between their respective leaders Fr Ted and Fr Dick Byrne. But in season three, we were introduced to the annual sports event which sees the rivalry spill out onto the soccer pitch.

The episode opens with a sweaty and disorientated Fr Ted donning a wife beater under his priest cardigan and frantically searching for evidence that they’re being bugged by Fr Dick Byrne. The fact that he was proven to be right when Byrne and Cryil McDuff speed off in their ice-cream van demonstrates just how coveted the Over 75s challenge is.

We all know how it ends and the regrettable developments that followed but now is the time to analyse the performances of those who played their part in the epic battle.

Fr Jack Hackett – 6

The former wet t-shirt judge is a gifted player but succumbed to the taste of Dreamy Sleepy Nighty Snoozy Snooze just two weeks out from the game which ruined his focus. He played on, albeit illegally, via the use of a motorised wheelchair. The first half peanlty given against him was harsh but he was naive in the challenge. Atoned for his mistake with a goal after half-time but his form was not where it should be.

Fr Romeo Sensini – 5

Fr Romeo The 'flip hot' Italian import

Rugged’s best player by a clear stretch but dived for the penalty, thus reinforcing the stigma about the ‘typical Italians.’ Has a history of side-stepping doping allegations after reports emerged that he abused a TUE to take extra-virgin olive oil for what he said were foot sores sustained after climbing two flights of stairs unassisted. That being said, he carried Rugged Island through this game.

Fr Ned Fitzmaurice – 4

Fr Ned Fr Ned Fitzmaurice fooled by Romeo Sensini from the penalty spot

Switched to goalkeeper at the last minute after losing his kneecap, although hanging around a paving stone was a reckless risk to take in the first place. Misplaced his glasses before kick-off and showed a blatant lack of responsibility by leaving an open goal at the mercy of Sensini while he went off to procure the specs from his wife. Utterly fortunate that the goal-poaching Italian didn’t convert the opportunity. Completely unprepared for the biggest game of what remains of his life.

Fr Cullen – 7

Was there in body rather than mind. Has no appetite to push himself and was duly sentenced to 15 laps of the pitch along with extra training for showing indiscipline during one of their last sessions before the game. Seemed distracted during the match but had the awareness to linger around the post and stroke home the winning goal.

Fr Nick Doorley – Deceased

Fr Nick Had... He had a great partnership with Fr Jack

Had a great partnership with Hackett up front and after the former slipped into a self-induced coma, Doorley was needed at the peak of his powers. Died shortly before the big game and was declared unable to play by the undertaker, who assured head coach Crilly that there was no chance of his availability.

Fr Jim – 8

Valiantly played from the start despite a back injury and was quick to clear the lines after Sensini’s shot in the first half. His misunderstanding of Ted Crilly’s Craggy Island-on-your-shoulders metaphor does nothing to detract from his selfless effort.

Management

Fr Dougal McGuire – 8

Dougal Dougal adjusting to his new role in the Over 75s Craggy Island team

Reacted positively after being downgraded from self-appointed physio to corner flag supervisor. Lost the flag momentarily in the parochial house but took on the boss’s feedback to embrace the new challenge. Redeemed himself by winning the stand-off against Cyril McDuff at the end of the game.

Fr Ted Crilly – 4

R ted Fr Ted Crilly watches on with intent

Clearly a creative manager with a desire to win at all costs but he broke the rules and imagination is no substitute for cheating. Let his side down and was lucky to escape a lifetime ban from the Catholic Football Association (CFA). Was deservedly kicked up the arse in the next episode. After two successive loses in the annual challenge against Rugged Island, his position could be in danger next season.

Fr Dick Byrne – 7

A proactive manager who showed great foresight to recruit Sensini during the transfer window. Prematurely dispatched McDuff to get the corner flag and had no contingency tactics available when Craggy Island levelled the game. Needs to start coaching his side on how to hold on to a lead.

Fr Cyril McDuff – 5

Was asked to get a corner flag for his boss. Failed to deliver. A passenger on the Rugged Island team.

Mrs Doyle – 9

Source: Lies Make Redgey Cry/YouTube

The Craggy Island housekeeper willingly stepped outside her comfort zone to explore the world of ‘football, football, football.’ Showed a flare for the sport after reading the ‘Understanding Football For Women’ textbook and appropriately chose a can of Stella Artois to wash down her first viewing of a game. Rallied the Craggy Island team when the need was greatest and inspired other women to take an interest in the sport. In other words, the 12th man.

Mrs Dineen – 8

Another skeptic turned lover of the beautiful game. Was interested enough to turn up to the game and quickly developed a strong understanding of the sport by shrewdly observing that Romeo Sensini’s penalty had sent goalkeeper Fitzmaurice the wrong way.

Referee

Jason Byrne – 6

Let the game flow for the most part of it but was fooled by Sensini’s dive for the penalty. Uncovering Crilly’s cheating was a good catch though.

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