By Eamonn Lowe
Yesterday morning over a Mocha (oat milk, 3 brown sugars), Fergal Logan finally broke his silence around the ‘Tyrone Bench Question’ which has single-handedly kept Irish News journalists busy for three months due to a rash of retirements.
Ignoring the £4.50 caramel squares, Fergal explained:
“You know, the boys call her “Denise”…always have done. But Brian and I just knew she wasn’t right…We tried her ourselves and you just couldn’t sit on her for more than a few minutes without getting sort of sore…and after 20 minutes or so you started to feel desperately out of sorts, your mouth went dry and your fingers started sweating”.
Warming to the topic, like a man who loves to burn his own tongue with a chocolate froth, Fergal continued:
“Brian and I had many an anguished word on this up there in the Garvaghy rain. I said I’d rebuild Denise from scratch with only the finest materials: timber you’d kill your best yew for, reinforced ratchets and bolts dipped in the bleep-test tear bucket…Brian, being Brian enrolled himself on an online Feng Shui course. He’s 5th Dan in that now, he never stops…and now today I want to reassure all Tyrone supporters that this new bench…this new Denise – Dazzler’s calling her “Darling Denise”, not that he’s allowed near her, is the finest bench that’s ever graced a Tyrone squad …in terms of her physical make up I mean… and that Brian himself has her whole energies and what-nots fully aligned and we just want this whole question of our bench to now be put to bed – as it were, like”.
This new bench was unveiled to the squad on Tuesday night in a behind-closed-doors ceremony. Fergal wouldn’t be drawn on whether those Tyrone players who remain in the squad were banned from sending photos of Denise to ex-players, now estranged.
An emotional Lionel Messi has agreed to help Tyrone out if their semi-final against Kerry goes ahead, after reading a ‘heartbreaking interview’ with Brian Dooher in the Irish News.
The diminutive Argentinian has already taken part in two sessions with the county, the first of which saw him emptied by Ronan McNamee.
Concerns that his presence may see McCurry relegated to the bench were allayed after the Edendork man defeated Messi in three consecutive bleep tests.
A squad insider told us:
“There was a bit of needle between McCurry and Messi initially, with the Dazzler repeatedly shouting ‘too long’ any time Messi had the ball. On Tuesday McNamee sent Messi into the ditch with the shoulder which convinced Dooher and Logan that springing him from the bench might be a better idea. He’ll probably come on for Sludden which is a straight swap”
Messi was said to be emotional after reading Dooher’s words regarding fielding a team due to Covid issues in the Irish News which he subscribes to for the horse racing and deaths.
The Argentinian has joined the Killyclogher Hurling Club for the week in order to be eligible for the game.
As Tyrone GAA great Joe McMahon brought down the curtain on his 13-year county career, his beard delivered an unexpected twist with the news that it has declared to play on for another few years, with or without its owner.
McMahon’s beard, who came to prominence during the successful 2008 campaign, is said to be considering its options and may move onto someone like Mark Bradley or Darren McCurry. In a scathing press release, it confirmed that its relationship with McMahon had been strained for years:
“I’m glad he has called it a day. Sure what’s the point of wintering well only to be put through a slogging session every spring. And anyway, I wouldn’t mind teaming up with someone who knows where the posts are. Me and Mark Bradley would be deadly, like something from Game of Thrones.”
The beard appears to be hurting over the lack of consultation in McMahon’s decision to retire, citing the fact that his brother Justin used to treat his beard to spa weekends and long combing sessions.
“All I get is leftover crisps and the odd bit of drink. I made that man. No one had heard of Joe McMahon til that day we beat the Dubs in the rain in ’08 and he appeared in the papers the next day with me dazzling on his chops. And this is what I get.”
Owen Mulligan’s beard has offered counseling to McMahon’s beard after Mulligan’s beard went off the rails post-retirement and was jailed due to an altercation in a casino in Las Vegas in 2014.
It has emerged tonight that a soaring spike in the cost of standard hair gel has forced the Tyrone County Board to ask for a few pounds a month from players to cover the backdrop in finances.
A leaked document last week indicated that, despite changing to the cheaper but less effective Boots version of men’s hair gel, over £30’000 was being spent on gel, hair dye and tanning products.
A squad member sent us an email this evening, complaining of the poor standard of gel which left players feeling vulnerable and exposed during the rain-drenched Saturday night game against Dublin a fortnight ago.
“It’s bad enough that the gel is now of a lesser standard than the stuff Mugsy and big Sean used to use in the last decade, but they’re making us pay for it. Tiernan McCann was black carded last week because he couldn’t even see the player coming towards him as the cheap stuff was tearing the eyes out of him. And why do you think McCurry’s accuracy is off?”
The email also suggests that Sean Cavanagh has been told they can’t afford the dye any more and we’re to expect a more “salt’n’pepper” look from the Moy legend in 2017.
Croke Park officials have subsequently asked Tyrone GAA to pay for the extra watering needed for their pitch after the cheaper brand of tan washed off onto their turf during the exciting NFL draw.
“Niall Sludden was completely unrecognisable at the end of the game in that we thought he was a spectator trying to break into the changing rooms at the end. He changed two shades. They County Board have ended up spending more by cutting costs. Pure shambles. “
Players are being asked to pay a direct debit of £3 a month into an Abbey National account in Clogher.
Dublin, who extended their unbeaten run to 30 games after a win over Cavan in the Allianz League opener, are said to be spooked at the news that Owen Mulligan may return to face the champions on Saturday night in Croke Park.
Mulligan, who has reportedly shed 3 stone by running up and down Cookstown Main Street during the middle of the night, memorably tortured the capital’s team in 2005 over two games including a goal which some describe the greatest they’ve seen in the famed headquarter turf. His 1-7 in the replay cemented the Cookstown man as Dublin’s nemesis that year.
A Dublin backroom member told a reporter this evening:
“This is a spanner in the works. We know we can handle this current Tyrone crop but Mulligan is a different species altogether. Paddy Christie told me recently he still wakes up in cold sweats about that goal. Coman Goggins took to sleepwalking straight after that game. And if Mugsy has shed three stone he’ll be hungry.”
Dublin’s 30-game unbeaten record in league and championship, going right back to March 1st, 2015, sees them as odds-on favourites for Saturday night’s clash despite Mulligan’s imminent arrival. Taking advantage of the bookie’s odds of 2/1, dozens of Cookstown punters have lumped on Tyrone due to their hero’s physical conditioning. Close friend and chronic gambler John Datsun explained:
“It’s like Rocky 4. Owen is going to kick that big Russian’s arse, or Jack McCaffrey as we know him as in Ireland. You should see Mugsy carrying in 6 kegs at the one time into the bar. He’s a pure beast right now and he hasn’t eaten in weeks. He’s gonna ate the leg clean off Michael Darragh MacAuley.”
Mulligan is also reportedly sporting a new look which will remain under wraps until he runs out onto the pitch, if this story is true at all.
Darren McCurry is apparently unhappy at the prospect of being benched in favour of the former All-Star, with the Edendork sharpshooter cryptically tweeting ‘what a load of bollocks #nevergoback #yourepastit #sticktopullinpints’
Vomiting and retching was heard as far away as Caledon as the Tyrone squad returned for early weekday training in Garvaghey after their chastening 6-point defeat to Armagh in the Ó Fiaich Cup final at the weekend.
The loss to their near neighbours, their first since 1982, caused shockwaves across the county with a reported increase in Mass attendance and rosary-saying since yesterday morning.
Additionally, manager Mickey Harte reportedly sent a group text out to all squad players stating that training has now been increased to 8 days a week to make sure the debacle in Crossmaglen never happens again.
A fringe squad player from Galbally told us:
“Mickey was in wile bad form after that bad bateing by Armagh. I’ve never seen him lose it like he did and he was was cursing and stuff. He toul McCurry he couldn’t kick a rope, never mind snow off it. He even fired a banana at Sean Cavanagh and he wasn’t even playing. Credit to Sean, he trapped it, soloed it and then ate it in one move.”
Despite initial confusion over the logistics of the new 8-day week, squad members have signed a contract committing themselves to the new regime with the extra day probably occurring some time between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Armagh’s Ó Fiaich Cup winning bus parade through Blackwatertown last night passed off peacefully despite concerns of a Moy contingent hijacking the celebratory event. Seven elderly Armagh supporters were hospitalised though with hyperthermia.
Darren McCurry was reportedly flying in training in a late bid to force his way onto the Tyrone starting team to play against their dear neighbours Derry in the first round of the Ulster Championship this Sunday.
Insiders confirmed that the Edendork sharpshooter arrived in training last night by jet-pack and remained flying until he ran out of fuel around half nine. Clonoe’s Conor McAliskey was allegedly furious at the lengths his fellow corner forward was going to to worm his way into Harte’s plans. A squad member told us:
“You should have seen McAliskey’s face. Everyone knows that if you’re flying in training Harte tends to pick you so McCurry took the cliche to a new level. To be fair to Conor, he latched onto another GAA saying and started kicking lumps out of Sean Cavanagh. Real lumps, like. Everyone knows that if a player is kicking lumps out of others in training then Harte knows he’s psyched up for the championship. Sean’s in a bad way though. Holes all over him.”
McCurry’s new approach saw him become a genuine target man for Mickey O’Neill’s kickouts as he won 20 out of 20 punts from the keeper, uncontested, though he was whistled for over-carrying every time. He was also blown out of Garvaghey towards the Ballygawley roundabout several times by high winds.
Reports suggest Harte was impressed by the lengths McCurry was prepared to go to but reminded the diminutive forward that Ricey McMenamin once gave 101% during training in 2008, verified by medical science through a GPS monitor strapped onto his back.
Niall Morgan’s attempt to ‘bust his balls’ in a last-ditch attempt to make his way onto the side unfortunately saw him in A&E overnight.
Mickey Harte, who pioneered bringing on old injured players in the second half as well as maintaining an immaculate semi-shaven demeanour for over a decade, has thought outside the box once more by forcing all squad members to read reams of W.B. Yeats’ poetry to get inside the mind of the average Sligo man and look for possible weaknesses.
County officials have moved to deny that the poetry will be used to sledge the Yeatsmen next weekend by saying it was shite and stuff like that. DJ Cuthbert added:
“Sure everyone knows Yeats was class, apart from the oul womany period he went through writing love words to the Gonne woman but sure every man has his faults.”
Early reports suggest Colm Cavanagh is struggling with Yeats’ mystical period but has taken to “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” with locals overhearing the midfielder rapping some of the lines, particularly:
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
with many feeling this hinted at a personal longing Colm has for returning to a full forward slot or maybe for a house in Benburb.
A Tyrone Tribulations spy who attended tonight’s training session at a secret bunker in Eskra, reported seeing Harte in full headmaster’s gown shouting at Mattie Donnelly who was unable to recite past the third line of Easter 1916 much to the mirth of McCurry and McAliskey.
Our reporter also described how Sean Cavanagh kept shaking his head and looking at his watch.
Over 20 vehicles with Donegal number plates have been chased back through Strabane and Clady into Donegal after people complained of suspicious behaviour outside the houses of all the Tyrone players due to start in the Ulster preliminary round game between the sides tomorrow.
News of Operation Dirty Tricks first surfaced when two Datsun Sunnys were said to be suspiciously parked outside the homes of the Cavanagh brothers in the Moy, playing Daniel O’Donnell’s greatest hits at full blast from 11am this morning.
In Edendork, a red Fiat with the plate 89 DL 2012 was strategically parked outside Darren McCurry’s penthouse with a TV in the boot playing Packie Bonner’s 1990 save against Romania in loop, with the windows down.
A Tyrone GAA spokesman revealed over 20 cars were forced to flee towards Donegal after angry locals surrounded the vehicles with petrol-lit moss reeds:
“Clonoe and Dromore also saw a number of Donegal cars parked near the homes of McAliskey, O’Neill, McCarron and McNabb. McAliskey’s home was being drowned out with the loudest version of Enya’s Orinoco Flow I’ve ever heard, blasted from the boot of a 1982 Peugeot 504. Paul Brady and Clannad were also in the air around Dromore.”
Mickey Joe Harte was reportedly spotted in person outside the home of Mickey Harte, confusing the issue completely. He was half-way through his Eurovision hit ‘We’ve Got The World Tonight‘ before being chased by Mickey’s nephew Davy.
No cars were damaged, though a poster of Moya Brennan was defaced in Cappagh.
Fingers have been pointed at Jimmy McGuinness who left his Diary of Skulduggery behind in Ballybofey before leaving his post as Donegal manager
The phenomenon of nominative determinism – which describes the increased likelihood of choosing a profession as a result of being born to a particular surname – is currently being studied to see if location also has an impact on adult career choices.
A Tyrone Tribulations envoy met with Professor Johnny Pointless and his students at Oxford University’s sociology department, and hoped to prove that none other than our very own County Tyrone has the highest incidence of name-sake related jobs.
“It has long since been held that there is a strong link between one’s family name and the professional path people choose in life” professor Pointless told us, “even back to Shakespearean times. A look at some of the Co. Tyrone examples are quite remarkable, if true.”
Examples discussed included world famous golfer Darren Clarke, who spent his early years as a junior bookkeeper, training to be an accountant with a Dungannon firm. Unfortunately for Tiger Woods et al, Clarke decided in his early 20s that he wanted to explore another field.
Another Tyrone example was that Dennis Taylor had been a clothing alterations specialist at a formal dress-hire company in Dungannon. Taylor finally got fed up measuring lads for their school formals, and taking up trousers, so he decided to head for the dole queue. Soon he bridged the gap between Ireland and England, pocketing a fortune over the years.
Taylor did always however maintain contact with his protégé, local tv and radio star Malachi Cush, who himself was an all-Ireland snooker and pool underage champion. This example of nominative determinism explains why Taylor’s trousers were always impeccable during snooker tournaments.
Tyrone Tribulations also informed the Oxford team of the two brothers from Derrylaughan who have been running a very successful ‘Sahara animal trekking experience’ tour business along the romantic shores of Lough Neagh.
Following from their popularity, ‘Camel’s Riding School’ looks set to open for local kids parties this coming September. While Oxford pointed there were “parochial pronunciation issues at play” (Campbell versus Camel) this still did in fact qualify as a case where one’s surname had an influence on their paid profession.
Post and present Tyrone senior footballers and great friends Darren McCurry and Ryan (Ricey) McMenamin are opening a chain of Chinese takeaway restaurants in Dromore, with half and half a discounted special. This, also we are told, does qualify.
Other examples we raised with the team included former footballing greats such as Mickey Coleman, who has decided to put down his guitar and has stocked up on household fuels for the winter months. Chris and Stevie Lawn have obtained a franchise for a gardening firm and are presently seeking contracts round Moortown and Ardboe.
Former last gasp saviour and ‘keeper, John Devine is rumoured to be down in Maynooth in the early stages of becoming a deacon which was also accepted within the guidelines set primarily by the dictionary.
Stevie O’Neill being ‘a deadly man on a size five ball’ is not something the panel would accept at this stage, although we have arranged they be flown over to the next Clann na Gael training session to help reverse their decision on the 2005 Footballer of the year.
When we informed them of a postman in Coalisland called Pat, researchers confirmed that this was just an amusing coincidence and didn’t really qualify as nominative determinism. Also Mickey Harte, being universally loved all around the County, was “a totally separate matter… maybe if he was a surgeon or something” stated Pointless… little does he know we told him.
Following recent reports in the Irish News that proud gay boxing champion, and great fella, Junior Quinn from Clonoe wanted to be called ‘Queen’ again, Oxford’s boffins ruled this was just a pronunciation issue, “and again totally different to what we have been telling you all day.”
Also mentioned was Big Willie Anderson the Dungannon and Ireland rugby great who we said has tried to dismiss talk of some 1980s videotapes he made. Added to the disappointment that we could not produce the tapes, Pointless and his team indicated it would not have been counted anyway as Willie is a Christian name, not his family name, and ‘Big’ is an endearing term for the man because he is so well liked around his town.
While we await the final outcome to be announced, it can be confirmed that Tyrone is in the final two areas being reviewed. Also in the running are the Choctaw Indians of the USA, who actually do include an awful lot of real Indians.