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Git and Bucko: A Cup final with the heart and soul of Dublin

Ahead of tomorrow’s FAI Cup final, The42 met Bohemians captain Keith Buckley and St Patrick’s Athletic playmaker Chris Forrester for a tour of the places closest to them in the capital.

Forrester Buckley

THE HA’PENNY BRIDGE is an obvious meeting point.

The link between north and south.

Neutral territory, of sorts.

Clerys’ clock was another suggested starting place, and while this rendezvous isn’t romantic, Bohemians captain Keith Buckley and St Patrick’s Athletic midfielder Chris Forrester have agreed for a wistful stroll down memory lane among the places, people and moments that have shaped them.

They are two Townies from opposite sides of the river who will face each other in the middle of the pitch at the Aviva Stadium for tomorrow’s FAI Cup final.

Kids who first played alongside each other at Fairview Park with Belvedere U17s, became men in the same dressing room at Dalymount Park when Pat Fenlon was manager a decade ago, but went their separate ways in the League of Ireland soon after.

This Cup final bounds their story once more.

“Bucko” from Countess Markievicz House on the south side.

“Git” from No.1 Paul Street on the north.

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It’s 12pm on the Sunday before the final. The sun bounces off the Liffey and the cold in the air is biting.

Irish rugby fans milling about town before the November Test with Argentina float by without a second glance as the pair pose side-by-side on the steps of the bridge for photographs.

One man and his son cop the Dublin rivals. They wait before crossing to the other side of the road and pose for a selfie together, making sure the camera is tilted just enough to capture Forrester and Buckley in the background..

“Why are ye posing so tense for, Git,” Buckley teases. “You’ve played in a Cup final before!”

“Yeah,” he responds. “And we won that one too.”

The photographer is in his 40s and from Cork. He recalls his memories of matches on Leeside in the early 90s. “Jaysis, ye don’t look that old,” Buckley laughs, before bidding him farewell. “See ye later, Benjamin Button.”

And we’re off.

***

It’s a short walk from the north side of the Ha’penny bridge to the Luas stop outside Jervis on Abbey Street. Destination: Smithfield.

Forrester’s territory.

There is a six-minute wait for the next tram.

Keith Buckley: Git, do ye remember the trials for Belvo? I was at Liffey’s before and I remember thinking ‘how has this fella not played at a higher level?’

Chris Forrester: I was really nervous. Some of these lads were going to Chelsea. I was thinking ‘these are going to be way better than me.’

KB: I was the same.

David Sneyd: The word spreads…

CF: That’s it. Ye hear about different players. Lee Swords was from my area. He was going to Chelsea on trial. I’m thinking ‘He must be lethal, Jesus Christ.’

DS: Keith, did you have trials?

KB: Just the Bridewell [Garda station] over there! Haha. No, no, never.

belvo Buckley and Forrester side by side (front row, first and second left) playing for Belvedere U17s.

DS: Tell me about Joan.

KB: Great woman. One of my ma’s best mates. She was my manager for years. Johnny Watson who was kit man at Shels, he was too. We played U12s against Kevin’s, Robbie Brady’s team, we were 3-0 down at half-time…

A man approaches with a black facemask protecting him.

“Keith, howya, it’s Michael,” he says, pulling it briefly down to his chin.

KB: Ah, Jesus. This is me uncle.

Uncle Mick: You’re doing well.

KB: This is on the record now.

UM: What? Old Bill, is he?

UM: What’s the story with tickets? it’s about 25,000 now, is it? You look great in all the photographs. The shaping and moving and all. The whole lot. Every fucking move. You’re on the McGregor side there you are. (Buckley is a cousin of Conor McGregor).

DS: You paying for your tickets?

UM: He won’t be giving any freebies. Ya know his aul fella, Tommy? Fuck sake! Stop.

KB: He’ll be charging for the freebies!

UM: He’ll be touting the things. When is that now anyway?

KB: Next Sunday.

UM: Right.

KB: Against him.

CF: It’s going to be a write off. Don’t bother showing up!

UM: Ah, I’ll have to give up a day’s work for it. Hahaha. Where ye off to now?

KB: Just going for a walk around doing this interview. I’m playing against him. He’s with Pat’s.

UM: Ah. You’re with Pat’s are ye?

CF: Yeah.

KB: But he’s a huge Bohs fans.

CF: Allegedly.

UM: Where are you from?

CF: I’m from Smithfield. O’Devaney.

UM: Ah, sure I’m an O’Devaney man all my life.

CF: Are ye, yeah? You’ll know the Forresters?

UM: C’m here! Hang on for a minute! They were all my son’s best men. Jason O’Buachalla, Jason Buckley. Sure he ended up a sergeant in the army. Charlie Forrester was my mate. The fella who died.

CF: In the Lebanon.

UM: In the Leb, that’s right. Charlie was my good mate. All those Forresters. The whole lot of them were army men.

CF: Yeah, I know. My sister’s in it too.

UM: Jaysis, look at ya now, you’re like Kenneth.

CF: Everyone says that.

UM: And who’s your Da?

CF: Willie.

UM: Are you in the army?

CF: Am I in it? Am I in the army?! No! Couldn’t think of anything worse, a bit of hard labour!

KB: He’s a professional footballer!

UM: What that get ye? A couple of grand a week?

CF: Well ye wouldn’t get me in the army. Pension there is about 78 now. My sister only retired from the army.

UM: Ah, great family. They were down in the long verandas.

CF: The long balconies, that’s where I was born.

UM: We were in the Luxuries. That’s what we called them. The Luxuries and the Long Verandas.

CF: Have ye seen them now, the flats?

UM: No, no. I haven’t been up there.

KB: Something else, aren’t they.

CF: There’s a load of new ones. Looks nice. But they were supposed to build a pitch and that all got scrapped. Promised a recreation area and a pitch for the kids but was scrapped and more apartments going there instead.

UM: The cooperage used to be there.

CF: What’s that?

UM: Making all the barrels for Guinness and that. All the services gone there now. We used to go around selling the Crunchies. I’m 74 now. Seventy bleedin’ four!

KB: Are ya still boxing?

UM: No, no. Did the karate for years. Years ago. The McGregors ruined all that with that bleedin’ stuff. Imagine sending your young fella to that — bang, hitting on the ground. How in the name of Jaysis can ye send a young fella in to do that? Ah, I’m an old man. Wasn’t always like this. Right, tell all the family I was asking for them. Take care. Good luck.

thumbnail Buckley, Forrester, and Uncle Mick (right).

And in a flash Uncle Mick is gone, heading up towards O’Connell Street.

KB: He used to get all the brand new jerseys when we were younger, United and Liverpool. And he’d be selling them around the place.

CF: That’s what you miss about living in the flats. You could get all sorts.

KB: Want to buy any ham?

CF: Steaks. Some steaks. Proper ones. Not mentioning any names!

KB: He’d have stayed here all day. My da’s side. Da’s brother. Think there could be 14 in total. Ma’s side, nine or 10.

CF: 14? That’s heavy that. Six for us.

DS: The army?

CF: Yeah, all of them. That’s the route you go down as a Forrester, I think.

KB: Ye have to be hard.

CF: Manual labour and all that? Fuck that.

DS: Always football?

CF: No idea growing up. Obviously ye say ‘I’m going to play in the Premier League’. But really I just wanted go out and be the main lad with my mates and everyone say I was class around my mates. I loved that.

KB: Sure ye still done that when ye went to Belvo.

CF: Just wanted to be that fella for your mates.

dean-kelly-head-the-ball-off-gary-twigg-to-score Owen Heary (left) and Ollie Cahill (front) were big influences at Bohs. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Luas dings as it arrives, and we get on for the couple of stops to Smithfield. From there it is a short walk across the square and on to Queen Street, walking towards the junction with North King Street.

The talk for these few minutes is about their welcome to life in the League of Ireland with Bohemians in 2010.

Pat Fenlon was manager and the club’s financial plight meant a glut of the U19 squad were promoted early.

Buckley and Forrester were among them, so too current Shamrock Rovers vice-captain Roberto Lopes, Shelbourne captain Luke Byrne, fellow Belvo graduate Kevin Feely, and goalkeeper Craig Sexton, another of the Fairview crop.

Chris Forrester: I was in there with all my idols, like. I loved it.

Keith Buckley: Thought you didn’t follow Bohs?! But remember going in there, I’m not even joking, Owen Heary. Jesus.

CF: Proper grown men, people who have done it in terms of our league. Watching how they carry themselves and watching how they play.

KB: Owen and Ollie Cahill were great with us, they really were.

CF: I was only speaking to Owen a couple of weeks back. He lives across the road from my sister. I was telling her he was great with me. We were only rocking in from school, school uniforms still on us thinking ‘ah, lads, this is going to be great’.

KB: There were some scraps in changing room.

David Sneyd: Go on…

CF: Killian [Brennan] and Pat [Fenlon] going at it. Killian tried to chip a peno down the middle last minute losing 2-0 to Derry.

KB: I remember it. Pat lashed him out of it. Calling him a mé féiner and everything.

CF: Killian was like ‘I’m getting in the shower’, Pat was like ‘no you’re not, get out’. I was sitting there all shy watching. I was fuming at him cause he missed the peno and I was thinking ‘I hope he gets a little slap.’

KB: Gas.

pitch Buckley and Forrester on the small tarmac pitch where the latter grew up just off Smithfield.

Forrester stops at the top of the road. “That’s where I grew up playing football, in that block there,” he says, pointing across to 50B Queen Street.

“Come on, we’ll walk through,” Buckley responds.

The 10ft metal gate is open and we walk through where a small concrete five-a-side pitch is sandwiched down the lane which turns on to Peter Street.

CF: This is where I was nurtured. Played here non-stop. That big wall there, they were going to put a mural up. The youth club down there wanted Eminem, Mahatma Gandhi, Jay-Z and me! Randomers! All the icons.

CF: There were big blue boards all round here when they were building up Smithfield and we’d write a list of places we would go to for games. Had Ballyfermot on it, Ballymun, Ringsend. Wherever. We were like ‘we’ll go there play them next week’, but we were never going to go near Ballyfermot or Ballymun. We were seven or eight years old! It was only Paul’s, Queens and Smithfield.

KB: They were afraid to come down to Pearse Street against us. We were the same down at the Docklands. Sheriff, Pearse, East Wall. Mad games.

David Sneyd: Getting older now…

CF: You’d get depressed thinking back and how the best days have passed.

KB: Was only thinking that if I was 10 years younger, half the young fellas now, if it wasn’t for social media they wouldn’t be footballers. They want to be social media footballers rather than footballers.

CF: Some get a start and they’re throwing up fire emojis on Instagram, the lot.

KB: That your house there to the right, Git?

CF: Yeah, we’ll go over and see my daughter. Her tooth fell out this morning. She’s expecting 20 quid.

“Hiya Dad,” seven-year-old Isabelle beams, waving her hands as she plays on the wall outside the house as her nana Colette, Forrester’s mam, watches on.

CF: Show us your teeth.

Isabelle: I had a McDonald’s.

CF: What did ye get?

Isabelle: Six chicken nuggets.

CF: Shock. Ya get the meal, don’t ye, because ye get more chips.

KB: Smart. Go on, get a photo there with your Da.

Isabelle: Ok.

CF: Up on the wall, ok.

Isabelle: Yeah.

KB: Ah, that’s lovely.

CF: Ye go to all the games now, don’t ye?

Isabelle: Yeah.

KB: I saw ye against Longford. He gave ye a kiss when he scored! You’re famous now. I saw ye.

CF: She loves it. That’s her thing now, it’s our thing, going to the games. She was on YouTube looking at a clip of the goal with my nephews and she was like ‘that’s me!’

KB: Jaysis, I remember coming down here to collect ye for Belvo games and you’d always be late half the time. How old is she now?

CF: Seven.

KB: Seven already… I’m a bit too selfish to have kids now. With work an’ all, I’d never see the kid. Then see that there and I’m like… That’s great. I love that. I’d love for my kids to be going to matches.

A car lets off a flurry of beeps as we cut back across towards Smithfield Square.

KB: That’s Harry Kenny’s wife, Julie.

Daughter Forrester with his daughter Isabelle.

KB: Here, you’re full time, would you start your coaching badges?

CF: I think I have something offer. I think so, yeah.

KB: You’re doubting yourself, I know straight away, look at ye. Why do you doubt yourself?

CF: I feel like I can speak to younger lads well and can see the game well but just the self-doubt that is always there. Are you going to do them?

KB: I would like to do them, definitely, but don’t think I would go coaching here. This league is mad. I would rather go help the younger age groups. See Liffeys now, they’ve no underage team. They used to have two at U11, U12, U13, they’ve none there now. See people now, mad stuff going on in the flats and I’m like, there is nothing to focus on or to challenge them. I’d like to help some younger lads go further.

CF: That’s your bit of satisfaction to help.

KB: Ah, I’d love that.

***

Soccer-mad Adam Moran (16) from Paul Street in Dublin 7 was knocked off his bicycle near the Rotunda Hospital in Parnell Square on Saturday night.

The only child was carrying a friend on the crossbar of his bike when the bike was in collision with a car before 11pm.

Adam suffered serious head injuries and was taken to Mater Hospital and later to intensive care at Beaumont Hospital.

He lost consciousness immediately and remained in a coma until yesterday, when his devastated family decided to allow his life-support machine be switched off. His parents, Elizabeth and Bobby, kept a bedside vigil for almost two days and made the tough decision to allow Adam’s organs be donated to save other lives.

Friends of the family have told the Herald that Adam was “a gem of a boy”.

His number one interest was Bohemians FC, who he played underage football with.

Just last week, he was celebrating after the club won the Eircom League. The fifth-year student had almost completed his grade two coaching course, which would have allowed him to teach soccer to younger children.

Adam’s friend who was on the crossbar of the bike suffered a broken leg, but according to a garda spokesperson his “injuries are not thought to be life threatening”. The driver of the car was shocked, but uninjured.

Counselling services were being made available to Adam’s schoolmates at St Paul’s CBS on Brunswick Street today following news of his death.

His friends were particularly upset by comments left on internet forums about how the accident occurred. A thread on a Bohemians supporters’ forum claimed that the two teenagers were trying to evade a group of Shamrock Rovers fans when they cycled into the path of the car.

However, officials from both clubs and gardai have said that this was not the case. The clubs said it was “a tragic accident” and had nothing to do with soccer rivalry.

A garda spokesperson said: “Everybody involved has been questioned and the investigation is ongoing. It is just another tragic road collision and there is no other element to it.”

A spokesperson for Bohemians FC has extended the club’s sympathy to the family. “The loss of any life is very tragic and the club would like to extend, without hesitation, its deepest sympathy to his family and anyone who knew him.”

- Irish Independent, 21 October 2008.

David Sneyd: Can you tell me about, Adam?

Chris Forrester: We did everything together. It was our dream to play for Bohs. Loads of us from school would go to games, come home, then do the commentary pretending we were playing. I am doing this for him. At Halloween the other week we were going trick or treating on the road. I met his ma. She was talking about the final, they would still be Bohs orientated. I was just slagging saying, ‘ah, I’m going to have to do it, I’m going to have to upset Adam and beat Bohs’. She was like ‘ah yeah, we’ll see, it will be grand’. I have the same feeling now as I did back then, I want to go out and do him proud.

KB: That’s so sad, I remember when that happened.

A month after Adam’s death, Bohs beat Derry on penalties in the FAI Cup final at the RDS while Lansdowne Road was being rebuilt. It was the club’s last appearance in the showpiece, until tomorrow.

CF: Brian Murphy and Owen Heary held up a flag with Adam’s name on it after the game. That was great for me and all our friends. We loved that. I was telling his ma that I might find one with a Pat’s crest this time. She was laughing.

CF: At the time you just try to deal with it. Football was always the distraction. It was all I ever knew. I concentrated so much on football after that. If I was sitting in the house thinking about what happened, getting upset, I would get the ball, go out in front and whack it out of it. That was my release. It’s why I love football. It’s why it’s special. Being in a team, around other people. It’s why school was so good too, you belong to that class with your friends. I say to the young lads at Pat’s now that these are the best days because you leave one group from school and you will belong to another.

KB: It’s unreal.

CF: How many appearances you have you got for Bohs now?

KB: 320 or something like that (with a short stint at Bray in 2017 when Harry Kenny was manager).

CF: That’s sick, like.

KB: In this league, lads go to a different club for an extra 50, 100 quid a week and they might not play. While young, play and learn wherever. If money is motivation, that will come eventually if you work hard.

CF: Money and Instagram. Four thousand likes or four thousand euro. Some would go for the likes.

Dublin Forrester and Buckley around the corner from Paul Street.

KB: He’s been lucky. I’d swap 300 appearances and have 20 if it meant winning something for Bohs. He’s won the cup and the league with Pat’s. I’ve never won anything in my life. This is my only chance now to win something like. I would rather be remembered for winning something for the club than having a certain amount of appearances. I don’t blame myself. I give everything for every minute but we just haven’t done it. Yet.

CF: Ye want something to show for your efforts.

KB: I want to deliver for the club. And for myself.

CF: And for your family. Family will be there. So whatever drives ye, if you want glory or to make family proud this is the day for it.

There is a shout from the opposite side of the Luas track while we wait to head towards Busaras.

KB: Ah, Evan, how’s a going?

He approaches, wearing a woolly hat which says ‘Hardwicke FC, Pride of the Inner City’.

CF: Ah, I’m out of here.

Evan: Alright, alright.

KB: Where ye heading?

Evan: Going to ref a match.

CF: Ye love it, don’t ye.

Evan: Absolutely.

KB: Here, there’s your Luas.

Evan: Go on.

KB: Remember now, keep your cards in the pocket. It’s about the kids, not you!

CF: Mad Bohs fan.

KB: Mad man!

DS: Townies for ye…

KB: Haha. Yeah, should see the buntin’ my ma has in the flats. And a poster hanging from the balcony outside the front door. Hanging from the first European game earlier this season. She says it’s a good luck charm. Tied on to the washing poles.

CF: My ma said to me the other day when I told her about doing this, ‘is his ma still lighting candle at the matches?’ I said ‘yeah ma, you’ll have to find her and blow it out. She was like ‘I will.’

DS: They know each other?

CF: No! She just seen the article about his ma bringing a candle to one of the European matches.

DS: What’s your mam’s name?

CF: Colette… The best a man can get!

DS: And your mam?

KB: Catherine… she thinks she’s famous now. Someone came up to me and says ‘do you want me to buy ye a Yankee candle for your ma’. I banned her from going to my games when I was about six or seven cause she’d be going mad on the line embarrassing me. With everything that’s gone on the last couple of years I told her she could come again. The first one was in the Aviva for the first home European game. We won and she went to all three. First league game she came to was Rovers at Dalymount the other week. I was like ‘she’s going to think this is a kip compared to the Aviva’. She was telling me about a fella behind her about 70 with his grandchild who was about 10. The language out of both of them. ‘Ye can’t be having that,’ she says to me. She’s mad.

DS: That’s what they say about townies in the league.

KB: Everyone wants to look in and say townies are mad. No, we’re just sharper. Off the cuff. Witty.

CF: Witty, that’s what it is. The country lads haven’t a clue about that banter. Ah, townies are different. But I consider myself just on the outskirts of town. Just out.

KB: It’s an urban jungle.

Smith Waiting for the Luas at Smithfield.

Looking at the back of the High Court from the Smithfield stop heading for The Point, another packed tram allows passengers to alight.

KB: We’ll leave that one too. Too busy. We jump on the Dublin City Bikes?

CF: No… I’m still trying to think of who else is a townie that still plays in the league.

KB: We have Dylan Grimes, he’s from Sherrifer.

CF: Dean Byrne off Longford. Townies are the best footballers, I think.

KB: There’s devilment about us. People look at Git and know that technically he’s unbelievable. But he’ll turn on you like that.

CF: He does my head in as well. Watch him at the final, on throw-ins, niggling. Here, shout out to the ref as well, yeah. All the refs. You know what he’s like. Dirt he is!

KB: I have to upset him. Just the way it is. I have to work to my strengths. I go in, do a job and that’s it. Give it to the players who are decent with it. Mop up if I can. Roy Keane’s my idol. I love him.

CF: Is he, yeah?

CF: Kevin Hunt was mine. No, can’t say that now! Can’t say anyone Bohs, can I! Ian Bermingham is my hero now.

***

We wait another few minutes for a tram and get handy seats for the spin to Busáras. Talk quickly turns to the week ahead.

Forrester is full-time with Pat’s while Buckley juggles his duties with full-time work as a painter and decorator. His boss, John Toal, is the former Shamrock Rovers league-winning midfielder.

Buckley’s long-term girlfriend is also now based in London for work, another challenge for the relationship. He turns 30 in June and reports in the build up to the final suggest he will depart soon after the final whistle blows for a new life in Australia.

Forrester has already been away to England. He will be 29 the week before Christmas and has found solace after a turbulent spell with his mental health in his mid-20s. The battles continue but are more manageable.

They were at their worst at a time when he was playing the best football of his career with Peterborough in League One, earning a rave review on one notable occasion when his performance against Chelsea in a FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge was highlighted on Match of the Day.

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He was part of the discussion for the Republic of Ireland squad.

But his form quickly deteriorated as his personal struggles continued, a move to Aberdeen failing to spark a resurgence as the contract was terminated by mutual consent.

Returning to Dublin has brought stability. He’s lived in Lucan with his partner and young son for the last year. Saints head coach Stephen O’Donnell has also been instrumental in the turnaround.

We’re trudging along Middle Abbey Street, past the entrance to Arnott’s and the Academy.

Luas Heading towards Busáras, passing down Middle Abbey Street.

Chris Forrester: Where are you staying before Sunday?

Keith Buckley: We were going to go somewhere but the lads preferred to stay in their own beds.

CF: We’re out in Portmarnock. We do some of our recovery sessions in the sea. The current would sweep me away. The gaffer’s little daughter goes out further than I do!

KB: See the build up to games, I hate it. I’d rather finish work at seven, quarter to seven, boots on. I’ll get Friday off. I prefer it. I get a headache sitting around doing nothing.

CF: I can sit there all day chilling.

KB: See, you went away and all. I’d have loved to be in a position that I was able to go to England or wherever, but it never happened. You can’t hold on to any regrets. So, I had to work. Sure the first six months at Bohs we would be playing for nothing.

CF: You got a few games before us so ye got a little deal.

KB: I remember Pat, ‘there ye go, ye deserve that’. There were 10 tenners in an envelope.

CF: ‘Here Ma, buy yourself something nice!’

KB: I was right wing back first. Pat always wanted workers on the wing. Tire him down. This fucker would come on, few step overs and score a goal.

CF: Take the glory!

KB: Remember your first goal against Bray? Little step over and left-footed strike.

CF: Yeah, yeah.

KB: See how I remember that.

CF: Here, what’s the story with the tache?

KB: Someone I know, his friend died. Conor Cronin his name was.

CF: Ya keeping it.

KB: Someone said to me, imagine ye do win the final. That picture be there forever. Like Freddie Mercury lifting the trophy.

chris-forrester-with-keith-buckley Buckley and Forrester in action against each other in 2013.

David Sneyd: How long have you been in Lucan?

CF: A year now. It’s handy for training in Celbridge. I’ve started driving again, my missus was doing it for me before.

KB: Would you stop.

CF: Such a kid, I really am.

KB: How did you find it when you went away? Can’t imagine you being able to look after yourself and cook

CF: Sure I had this wok, I tried to make stir fry and put too much oil on. The pan scorched and went up in flames. I went to run into the shower but remembered hearing that you don’t put water on it. Threw it out of the flat and the women on her balcony underneath having a smoke, a flame ball went by her head. I was playing sick, though. I was playing too good not to like it, but everything other than football, I hated.

After a bit of a delay, we’re crossing O’Connell Street.

KB: I remember watching that Chelsea game. Ye used to play on the left for Pat’s but went deeper, in the middle, as it suited ye perfect.

CF: After that game, I went home and had a chipper by myself, depressed out of my head.

KB: There has to be something for lads when they come back. You see them come back to our league thinking they’re a failure.

CF: I thought that until two years ago. You go away and you think, ‘I’m going to buy me ma a gaf.’ You want to look after everyone. It’s a bit extreme and whatever.

KB: Your ma is not thinking that. She just wants you to be happy… everyone want to be the one to say they helped the fella trying to make it, but not many want to help the ones coming back.

CF: That’s what the gaffer done with me. I couldn’t get out of my own head. He helped break things down. Being there as a shoulder I suppose. Being the person to talk to.

***

After cutting over the Luas tracks at the side of Busáras facing Connolly Station, we head across Talbot Memorial Bridge.

Behind us is Liberty Hall and the Custom House. Much further down the river is the starting point at the Ha’penny Bridge.

David Sneyd: Tell us more about Joan, when you started off playing football.

Keith Buckley: Joan was my ma’s mate. She worked in the youth club, PARK (Pearse Street Area Recreation Centre). She ran our team, had 10 or 12 of us going on the bus to Shels’ games. She was great with us. Git, did you have the Summer Project?

Chris Forrester: Yeah, we had that.

KB: They were the best weren’t they.

CF: Clara Lara, Fort Lucan an’ all.

KB: One day you could go to a beach. There’d be give different things to do in the week.

CF: The double decker an’ all.

KB: From eight upwards we’d go.

CF: Then you’re 21 still trying to get on.

KB: The best days.

CF: They were sick days. Up the front! I do get awful depressed about my childhood. I’m a child stuck in a man’s body. I try to portray that through football. I’m still a kid enjoying it. Enjoying it in my own head.

Crossinh Crossing to the southside on Talbot Bridge.

KB: Jesus, I love the match day. Can’t beat it. That feeling of playing a match, it’s the best feeling. You get older you realise how lucky you are. But then you realise you’re playing 10 years and what you’ve given up.

DS: Are the sacrifices worth it? Is this your last game before going travelling?

KB: People say ‘ah you’re going travelling’. But I won’t be finishing football till I’m 40 hopefully. I always wanted to maybe sample America or somewhere. I’ve done this for 10 years. I’m open to options. Before Covid I had it all planned to go. The visas booked and going to Australia. Detser then throws the bombshell that he’s leaving. Then I’m asked to be captain and you can’t say no. You can’t refuse that. No matter what. It’s Bohs, onene of the biggest clubs in the country. I always loved it. To say I was captain.

CF: No one can take that away from you either.

LibertyHall Buckley and Forrester on Talbot Bridge with Liberty Hall and Custom House in the background.

Before we realise it we’re standing in the middle of the road, at the corner of Townsend Street with a DART from Tara Street hurtling by overhead.

KB: It’s mad around here now. On the corner there a hotel has gone up, down there is another hotel. We’re in the middle of the flats now and buildings just going up all around you. The crane hovering on top of you.

CF: The homelessness you see is the worst. All the tents. People in their sleeping bags. Walking down to meet you earlier on the boardwalk. It’s madness. So sad.

Buckley takes us down Townsend Street and, just across from Princes Street South, under the archway marked ‘Bloc-F’ and into the courtyard for Countess Markievicz House.

CF: That an Astro?! No wonder you’re producing better footballers down here.

KB: All the builders park in here so a deal was made with them they we wouldn’t rat to the clampers if they built some flower pots.

CF: Ledge.

KB: But look at the cranes over your head. I’d say they’re dying to get their hands on this. But they can’t. Cause it’s Countess Markievicz House, there’s a preservation order. There’s the Windjammer just over there, the purple pub. I used to work in there.

MarkHouse Forrester and Buckley on the astro pitch in Countess Markievicz House.

Buckley spots his Dad, Tommy, cycling by and starts to whistle in his direction.

Tommy: What you doing here? Bogey son, bogey..

Keith: Seen Mick up in town.

Tommy: Me brother?

KB: Yeah.

Tommy: Working was he? [Laughs]

KB: We were chatting away. Got in a photo for the article.

Tommy: For what?

KB: For the Cup final.

Tommy: Eliminate my brother out of that. He knows everyone out of the northside….

KB: He knows Git’s family. You know the Forresters?

Tommy: Yeah.

KB: Ye know Git.

Tommy: Course I do. What about next week! What’s happening? This time next week you’ll be tearing lumps out of each other.

CF: He’ll be trying to tear lumps out of me.

Tommy: If he catches ye.

CF: I don’t think he will.

KB: Throw-ins.

Tommy: Should be a good buzz. Could be 30-40,000 at it, that would be great. Look at youse two now. Look at where you’ve come from, Belvedere and now. Will you be wearing the arm band next week?

CF: Nah, Bermo will.

Tommy: Ye never know, he might fall or something.

KB: Lovely, Bermo’s starting. ‘Attention Keith [Long]: Bermo’s starting’.

Tommy: Well done, lads. All that’s missing here is Pico [Lopes]. Where is he?

KB: Probably still celebrating winning the league.

Tommy: Well, I’ve got to get in and out of town. See you later: I’ll be cursing you (Chris) next week now, you know that…

CF: Off on the bike. The Buckleys love the bike.

BuckoTommy Buckley with his Dad, Tommy.

While St Pat’s secured European qualification with a second-placed finish, 16 points adrift of winners Shamrock Rovers, Bohs’ drop off following their semi-final win saw them finish fifth.

It means they must win tomorrow to qualify for the Europa Conference League.

KB: We can do both in one day. Win the Cup and qualify for Europe. It’s set up great.

CF: I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a season as much. We’ve changed the perception of Pat’s, I think. But there’s definitely more in us. We were the only ones to put it up to Rovers.

KB: You’re not even getting enough credit, you’re second and in a cup final.

CF: No, we don’t get any. Youse get more credit than us! We’re the ones that made a challenge of it, got to a cup final, been playing unbelievable… ‘ah, but, Bohs are fighting for fourth!’ Swear to God!

KB: I think it will be a great game.

CF: Look at our games this season. They’ve all been a bit mad.

KB: Last one was like a basketball game.

CF: We bopped youse first half, then second half, totally different. You were bopping us.

KB: On the big pitch at the Aviva, cause it’s so big you can’t control it for 90 minutes. Not a hope.

CF: If you think you can control it for 90 minutes, you’re mad.

KB: Pitch is huge. Always trying to read balls. Ball going in lanes 10 metres wider.

CF: We’ve not been there for so long [since the 2014 final]. It’s great to be back there and be relevant again. Pat’s are relevant again. That’s what I like to hear.

KB: The amount of times I’m hearing it like a home game cause of the European games.

CF: I never went to the old Lansdowne.

KB: Never!? I used to go to all the Ireland matches, loads of us would find a spot to bunk in. Then at the end of the match we’d hop on the pitch, 20 of us or whatever. You knew a couple of us would get caught. Stewards would walk down linking hands to the halfway. They’d be in a line and we’d have to make a break for it.

CF: Bulldogs Charge. That’s where it originated.

KB: Yeah, we’d run straight through.

This time it will be Buckley and Forrester in the middle of Lansdowne together.

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