When I finally threw my hat at it and emigrated from pre-Tiger Ireland in the late Eighties, I did so – as had become somewhat fashionable at the time – on a Ryanair plane out of Knock airport. Not any old Ryanair plane, mind you, it was, in fact, a BAC 1-11 (that’s it in the pic), which – it’s all coming back to me now – was manufactured in Romania. (You see, even before Mad Mick came on the scene, those Ryanair boys always had an eye for the low-cost option).Rumour had it at the time that the deal involved not just planes but also some Romanian pilots. That may be regarded as unremarkable in globalised, multicultural Ireland now but remember that this was 1988 and Nicolae Ceau?escu still had more than 18 months to go before getting his grisly Christmas comeuppance so it wasn’t as if one were encountering a Romanian person every day of the week in these here parts.
The presence of a Romanian gentleman in the cockpit made, as I still so clearly recall, for a very different pre-flight experience compared to the standard Aer Lingus fare. You know the crack: “Good afternoon, my name is Fiachra O Bignob and I’ll be flying you over to London today blah, blah, blah”. No, indeed, none of that smooth, masterful pilot’s language, the origin of which Tom Wolfe wrote so memorably about in The Right Stuff. Instead, there was this single, gravel-sounded blast of “hostesses, take your seats!” and then, all of a shot, like, we were airborne.Now, many years later and safely settled back into what has since become post-Tiger Ireland, memories of that day in the month of May almost twenty years ago come swimming back to me. But put away the hankies, lads, I’m not going to come out with some drearily mawkish number about the consequences of layvin d’owl sod all those years ago. No, what I was ruminating on (bear with me, the metaphor is almost at my shoulder now) was the indecent haste with which that Carpathian gentleman propelled us into the Mayo sky back then and how similar that experience was to where we find ourselves this week. Because here we are, with May but a pup and Whit weekend still someway off, being pitted into Championship battle with the Heron Chokers. In five friggin‘ days time and all!
Needless to say, there’s no team news yet: you’d have been spared the opening paragraphs if there was. We may get it tomorrow night – Nickey Brennan is certainly keen that bloggers (and the wider media) should have this raw material to play with by Wednesday night at the latest. Mind you, I read somewhere (I can’t recall exactly where it was but you’ve already got enough links in this post to be getting on with) yesterday that Galway weren’t planning to release their team till Thursday so The Candidate may do the same (oh and, Peter, if you’re planning anything on Stamp Duty or Pre-School Fees, our man will match you on these as well).
Shorn of any hard news – there’s a piece in the Indo about Galway and how close their matches with us have been of late that’s worth a glance – could I direct your eyeballs over to the sidebar entitled “Mayo’s top scorers 2007”? See the top six scorers on that list? That’s our forward line for Sunday, isn’t it? (Okay, that’s enough questions). It would mean no starting place for Kevin O’Neill but he doesn’t have the full 70 minutes in him anyway.
If that is the forward line, then we could see Heaney (or Nallen, if Heaney is pressed into service further back) and Brady at midfield. O’Malley in goals, the other O’Malley (if fit) and Keith Higgins in the corner, Devenney and Gardiner at wing-back and then . . . let’s wait till tomorrow night to see what the story is with full-back and centre-back.
Finally, a word of thanks to An Spailpín Fánach for his kind plug yesterday about these modest scribblings. Readers should, if you haven’t done so already, take the opportunity to enjoy the Spailpín’s own esoteric thoughts on Sunday’s showdown.