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Dec 22nd
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Home Sport Sport A late, late show

A late, late show

FOOTBALL Just when the boys of Wexford thought it was in the bag, up sneaked Paul Lydon to blast home the winning goal.
A late, late show for RTE’s candid cameras

Kiltimagh made a winning start under their new boss

FEATURE
Michael Commins


GOOD golly! Just when the boys of Wexford thought it was in the bag, up sneaked Paul ‘Crusty’ Lydon to blast home the winning goal in injury time. Celebrity manager Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin did a double jig with delight on the sideline. If it was drama they wanted, it was drama they got. It will make a good show when it goes out on RTE in a few weeks time.
You could sense the buzz around Gilmartin Park on Saturday. High Noon had drifted by an hour earlier but the weather was far from the summer shimmer of Gary Cooper and friends in the Old West. Accents not heard by the banks of the Moy were here today, those gentle sounds that find their home in the land where the Slaney flows.
Former Fine Gael TD and government minister Ivan Yates was the man assigned to take charge of Taghmon-Camross. Ivan is a Wexford man and he was gracious to all and sundry, extending the hand of friendship to everyone he met along the way. He now runs his own chain of betting shops, Celtic Bookmakers. What odds he would have given on such a dramatic finish?
The crew from Animo TV, who are doing the series for RTE, had a number of cameras in place around the park. They also focussed heavily on the reactions of the two managers as they moved up and down the sidelines. Former Mayo legend Liam McHale was there to lend a helping hand to Aoibhinn, while Ivan was relying on Tom Banville, the club secretary, who was busy keeping the show on the road. As the atmosphere began to swell and a sub was about to be introduced, Ivan, a gentle and reserved soul, was heard to exclaim, “Where the f*** is Tom?!” to the amusement of all around. Even the great commentator Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh was in Kiltimagh for the occasion.
There was an intensity to the game that took many by surprise. From once the ball was thrown in, it became a highly competitive affair. The Wexford lads moved four points clear in as many minutes but wind-assisted Kiltimagh had drawn level by halftime. A feature of the half was a point by corner back, Aiden ‘Rudi’ Lydon. “I just went up and ‘pinged’ it over!”, said ‘Rudi’ afterwards, using one of those words that belongs to the Kiltimagh slang dictionary.
Two points adrift and in injury time, Conor Heneghan mounted one final assault on the Wexford defence. He laid the ball off to Brian ‘Chucky’ Gallagher who found ‘Crusty’ Lydon clipping through. He shot low and hard for the corner of the net, slipping the ball just inches past the diving Michael Carthy in the Wexford goal. The biggest cheer of the day greeted the score. Kiltimagh were through to the semi-final.
Their opponents will be Mayfield from Cork, who are under the care of socialite solicitor and big spender, Gerald Kean. Kean, wildly known in the celebrity circle, arrived in Kiltimagh by helicopter. Two members of the Mayfield team were with him, ‘dolled’ up to the last in their lovely blazers. Kean looked the part, pulling on his big Cuban cigar, a dream for the camera crew.
Though more associated with soccer, Kean is enjoying every minute of this GAA series. One of the Kiltimagh team, observing him after the game said, “He doesn’t give a f***! He’s having a good time and he likes a good time. He’d love to see his team winning it out so we’re going to have to be in rare good form to beat Mayfield in the next game.”
The men from Taghmon-Camross brought a decent band of supporters and, despite losing at the line, they enjoyed their weekend trip to Kiltimagh. Lengthy sessions in the Woodcabin and later with Seamus Higgins made for a memorable Saturday in the West. Other hostelries enjoyed the support of the Wexford folk too.
As the Kiltimagh bus (going up in the world!) left the pitch after the game, Aoibhinn was one of the last to get on the coach being driven by that ‘tank’ of a man, Johnny Lydon. She sat in the front beside Rudi. “That’s as near as you’ll get to her, Rudi!”, said one of the team. “Never mind that, she might stay in our house yet tonight!” quipped Rudi.
But for Aoibhinn, it was a trip home to Carnacon after the celebrations. “We looked after her well, no one got away with her. She’s going to America singing for the next two weeks. But she’ll be back in plenty of time for the next game,” said “Rudi” yesterday.
There’s devil the town in Ireland like the town of Kiltimagh.


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