Eimear Keenan takes an irreverent view on the Fermanagh v Antrim All Ireland Final replay.
All Ireland final day part two. A shorter drive to the Orchard County this time around and less worry of tolls, euros and clamping. I parked in a built-up area just beside the ground knowing that if anyone dared clamp a car there on a Saturday afternoon they would be chased!
The smell of suncream filled the air, lathered on young and not so young. Fine farmers’ tans were on display with pasty shoulders that clearly haven’t seen much daylight over the recent heatwave.
While in the queue to enter I heard one man say ‘it was far too warm that day but great drying all the same.’ His wife replied, ‘would you quit your whining, sure it’s giving rain tomorrow!’
A subdued atmosphere outside the ground was replaced inside when Fermanagh took to the field to a rapturous roar. A big support from home decked in green and white supporting the Erne ladies.
With a blistering heat in the Athletic Grounds I took myself and my carload over the to the terraced side to the shade.
5.02pm and the ball was thrown in and we take an early lead, unfortunately for the first and last time. Two soft goals early on didn’t help our cause especially with a very dubious penalty, one supporter shouting, ‘ah would ya g’way outta that and catch yourself on ref!’
Frustration all around as a few passes went astray. The same supporter bellowing this time, ‘find a flipping Fermanagh jersey will yas’ before the wife gave him an elbow to keep it down and encourage the girls.
There was a mass exodus from the seated stand to the terrace side at half time. With the sun creeping up towards the back of the seated stand, the heat got too much for some.
One man who entered the terrace with a big red face and head to match asked ‘was this the air conditioned side?’ The sun continued to split the stones and it was evident at half time when in true Father Ted fashion the PA announced over the tannoy “could the winner of the half time ticket come forward, there’s a chance they are at the shop buying water or something.”
There were anxious Fermanagh faces at the shop at half time. I nipped to the toilets during the break and found there was a young child who had managed to lock themselves in. It’s safe to say that the door will never be the same again after a man put his foot to it to get the child out. Always guaranteed a bit of drama at a GAA match, and that’s outside of the pitch!
As the second half went on the game began to slip away from Fermanagh. Disappointed faces all around come the final whistle but still and all there was a pitch invasion giving youngsters the chance to meet their heroes and get pictures.
The journey home was spent analysing and talking about the what ifs before stopping in Clogher for chips. The chippy worker took pity on us in our green jerseys and gave us a half stone bag of spuds for four portions of chips! Mind you, it was probably the highlight of the evening!
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