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Dublin: 11°C Saturday 24 October 2020

Life in the AUL: welcome to wherever you are

It’s a couple of tough away trips for Paul ring’s motley crew as they enter the business end of a long season.

Image: creative commons

WE WERE ON the road again, dear reader.

Twisting and winding our way through the Cork countryside, before navigating the city.

One quarter-final, one must-win league game.

If the third day of the US Masters is moving day, then last week the U-haul was loaded up.

The luxury of a bus was our mode of transport as we faced second division Hibernians in the County Cup last Saturday. It was a day made for football; a brilliant blue sky with a pitch hardening in the spring.

The heat was causing some bother for your’s truly. I had been at a wedding the day before and indulged in one or two bottles of beer. I covered myself, or so I thought, by picking Corona.

The lime would be one of my five a day.

The only thing I asked for as I slumped off the bus was that whomever I was marking – please –  be slow and share my distaste for running. Of course, I was on the shoulder of a perpetual motion machine.

I searched in vain for bags of water á la McGrath in ’94 but only found worried looks as the sweating took on Lee Evans proportions.

They were frankly better than us. They were more assured in their touch, more clinical in front of goal. Two nil didn’t flatter them and we left disappointed at going out but proud of the scalps we had taken on the way.

With the cup gone, it was to the league that all focus shifted. Second place and promotion is a real possibility but with the league leaders drawing on Saturday the door creaked open a touch. We had to win to squeeze through.

Straight after work, a tired motley crew embarked for a well-known area in the city.

Now I’m not one for judging a place by its mere appearance but the fact our path to the pitch was blocked because the road was covered in glass wasn’t the best start. The long stares into the car as we ambled in left us in doubt as to why their home record was so impressive. This would be intimidating.

The Ali Sami Yen

The largest crowd of the season was waiting for us. A crowd of about 10, each with cans in hand assured some us we would be “dead” soon. As we took to the field our winger Bob asked me the name of Galatasaray’s stadium. “Why” I wondered. He merely pointed towards the goal. There scrawled, but clear across the wall read “Welcome to Hell”.

Was I intimidated? NO! I whispered.

They took the lead through a harsh penalty. As their striker was stepping up to take it, some of the youngsters behind the goal began throwing water bottles at our goalkeeper, worried no doubt that he was dehydrated during this balmy night. Where were you when I was sweating lime last Saturday?

We created a hatful of chances despite the partisan crowd and despite missing a penalty, equalized with ten minutes to go. Then five minutes later, Mark our midfielder and runaway player of the year decided we were winning this thing.

He powered past two challenges and thrashed the ball into the roof of the net from the edge of the box. I contemplated giving it the Gary Neville celebration to the hordes. I thought better of it though and merely allowed myself a fist pump from the safety of the car.

They are coming down to us on Saturday for part two. I don’t think “Welcome to Buttevant” will do the trick.

About the author:

Paul Ring

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