Neutral mediators were this morning attempting to repair the damage caused by an internal rift over the sock/stockings issue which has blighted the Tyrone senior county squad since the start of the year. Tempers were said to have exceeded boiling point last night when nine players turned up to training allegedly wearing the new sock/stockings imported from a warehouse in Bangladesh. Calling themselves ‘The Nylon Nine’, spokesperson Cathal McCarron is adamant they will not back down on this:
“Yousins don’t know what it’s like. We’re running about a field in the depths of winter with a t-shirt, shorts and rolled up socks whilst yousins all sit with your coats and hats on, drinking team and all. In Casement last week I couldn’t feel my legs half way through the warm-up. They won’t let us wear tracksuit bottoms or hats but there’s nothing in the rulebook about these new stockings from Bangladesh. I’ve been wearing them to training at Dromore for a couple of years now and even Ricey eventually bought into them. He calls them suspenders but on the box it says socks/stockings. It’s time Mickey and the backroom lads moved with the times. Tony Donnelly has been wearing long-johns since I joined the panel. It’s one rule for them and none for us. We’ll be wearing them in Armagh this Sunday. Mark my words.”
Harte has set in place contingency plans this weekend to counteract the possibility of the Nylon Nine turning up kitted out in their new attire for the Fermanagh game. A backroom member, who wished to remain anonymous, told us:
“Holy ghost lads, they’re suspenders. SUSPENDERS! Can you imagine the goading they’ll be getting from them Fermanagh lads who spend their entire lives walking about in the rain wearing Frankie Goes To Hollywood or TheA-Team t-shirts without a complaint. We’ll be laughed out of Armagh. There’ll be some noise coming out of our changing room tomorrow if they go ahead with the threat. You’ll hear the slaps. There’s a rake of lads from Urney and Dregish who’ll take their places.”
Fermanagh manager Peter Canavan has refused to comment but an Erne insider claims the former Tyrone captain nearly wet himself thinking about it this morning.
With the recent news surrounding Tyrone GAA’s new sponsors, Mickey Harte has expressed fears that the new partnership may play havoc with his plans to keep tabs on members of the squad who ‘winter too well’ over the non-footballing months. With Kevin Hughes retired, initial hopes were that the Hunky Dory freebies would remain largely untouched, enabling Harte and the squad to deliver the crisps to the less fortunates in Brocagh, Eskra and Dregish. However, all changed with a phone-call the management team received last night from a Healy Park attendant.
“At first I thought it was a wind-up,” an anonymous official told us, “as it was wile cold last night. But I could hear the lads codding about in the background. It didn’t take long to identify the voices: Mugsy, Joe McMahon, Gavin Devlin, big Pascal and Cathal McCarron. The poor Omagh gatekeeper said they were demanding to get training at the field in preparation for next year, even though we’ve given them time off til St Stephen’s Day. The penny soon dropped with me. Them bloody crisps.”
Harte and his team made their way to Omagh only to be confronted by the hungry fivesome, McCarron doing the talking, not a kitbag between them, demanding to hear the full details of the sponsorship deal and when the first batch would be arriving. Negotiations went well into the night with threats of resignations and counter-threats of walking from the panel before McCarron persuaded the others to accept the only deal on the table: 50 packets each for the months of November and December with a renegotiation in January, as long as the other squad players weren’t aware of it, especially Colm Cavanagh and Marty Penrose who also ‘winter well’ at the best of times.
Penrose, in particular, is reported to be devastated that they didn’t pursue his idea of a dream deal with Milky Bars or Snickers.