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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 22 October 2020
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Between hackers and hoggers, life in the AUL

He hasn’t gone away you know. We’ve thawed out Paul Ring and he’s found his missing football boot after a winter of discontent for the country’s Sunday footballers.

GREETINGS from the footballing depths. It has been too long.

For those that are unfamiliar, this is an account of a new team starting from scratch in the harsh climate of the Cork AUL Division Three. When I left you last we were in the midst of a nine-game unbeaten run and were hurtling towards the top-of-the-table. Jack Frost intervened on the rest of the league’s part in December to grind our run to a halt.

There have been two cup games in the meantime, one in which I played and we lost. Another in which I was absent and we won. This is mere coincidence I have been assured. What caused my absence? I was in Manchester to watch the derby and see Wayne Rooney prove during our own election season, that sometimes a shinner gets in.

As a centre-back it was heartening to watch Vincent Kompany stretch during the warm-up and say “I could do that”.

After the frost gave way, pitches up and down the county thawed and the cracking leather of the boots got stretched again in anticipation of action. Then the rain came. There was a great golfing quote used once during a particularly bad downpour about Michael Phelps not being able to make par in these conditions; if the rain that seemed to exclusively fall the night before our games ever repeats itself then the great American should use Cork as his training base for London 2012.

Comeback

Two weeks’ ago was to be our watershed moment, a fixture against Rathcoole was to go ahead. The weather was fine. The pitch was fine. The referee would be there. There would be a football. Then the message came that we had won Sunday’s game on Tuesday. Rathcoole had pulled out, of the league. Sometimes the numbers don’t add up. A shame.

So it was the fifth of March that our league campaign resumed after an absence of over two months. A local derby at home to Bweeng got the juices flowing. We had met twice this season already, a win and a loss with both games being physical to say the least.

I was at my usual station of centre-half and had resolved to keep things simple. As if there is another way. There are times when you watch the big leagues that you find little things that you can incorporate into your own game. I studied David Luiz closely recently and was convinced I could replicate some of his performance.

“The ball careered into my face and reduced my cheek to mush”

Not the tackling, the barmy runs or the daring half volleys, but how he ties his arms behind his back to prevent a handball. So when the attacker got the ball on the edge of our box on Saturday I copied Luiz and had my hands behind my back. Boom. Like an orange that had been leathered at a wall, the ball careered into my face and reduced my cheek to mush. I suppressed the urge to call for my mammy and bravely played on with watering eyes and a bruised head.

Our midfielder Darren scored the only goal of the game. A sweet strike from 20 yards. We repelled their late attacks as most of their shots flew over.

At least I think they did. My hands were over my face.

Paul Ring blogs at A View. Read his previous installments here.

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Paul Ring

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