Politicians from all major parties as well as international dignitaries have hailed the South East Tyrone Loyal Old Boys Society (SETLOBS) and local GAA clubs in the area as a shining beacon of coming-togetherness and understanding after both communities clapped and cheered as a Meath flag was placed at the top of a bonfire in the middle of the Tamnamore roundabout just off the M1.
SETLOBS Grand Master Willie Tennyson admitted he never thought he’d see the day when unionists, loyalists, nationalists, republicans and pagans would share tins of Carlsberg and glasses of cheap wine as the final pallet was positioned on their annual fire:
“I never thought I’d see the day when unionists, loyalists, nationalists, republicans and pagans would share tins of Carlsberg and glasses of cheap wine as the final pallet was positioned on our annual fire.”
The Meath flag idea was the brainchild of Derrylaughan tradesman Harold McCourt who revealed he harboured a strong hatred of Meath since their 1996 assault on a timid Tyrone outfit in the All-Ireland semi-final.
“Aye, when I heard Tyrone were drawn to play Meath on he eleventh night this weekend, it just came to me that such an event was a great opportunity to offer the hand of friendship to themuns and kill two birds with the one flag. We get to see that county’s flag burn whilst the SETLOBS gain satisfaction from watching a GAA thing in flames and it green and all.”
Hundreds turned up as the bonfire was lit late last night by two petrol bombs fired at it by Grand Master Tennyson and local GAA historian Fr Ben Fay. The festivities passed off peacefully apart from one incident at 3am when a Lambeg drum was thrown off the bridge onto the motorway after a row over whether A Nation Once Again was catchier than The Sash My Father Wore.
Foreign press reported the event for international media outlets although most maintained it was the worst built bonfire they’d ever covered.
In a proposal some are calling one of the most important peace gestures in Irish history, Tyrone and Armagh GAA boards are considering combining their potential July 12th Round 2 Qualifier clash with the Twelfth celebrations on the field of play.
The scenario will only take place if Monaghan defeat Armagh in their replayed Ulster semi-final this weekend, with bookmakers reckoning this scenario will be the likely outcome.
Both county board met yesterday to thrash out an agreement on the proposal with the following details confirmed as definite:
- Instead of St Michael’s Enniskillen, the players will march behind a lone Lambeg drummer, playing any tune he likes
- Both sets of players will march wearing a sash in their county colours
- The National Anthem will be replaced by The Sash My Father Wore
- A bonfire will be lit in the corner of the field at half time with no flags to be burnt, just rubbish and spare tyres donated by spectators
- Free beer cans for all in attendance
Tyrone spokesman, Kenny Nelis, explained the gesture:
“We in the GAA pride ourselves with forward thinking and this is just a natural extension of that. There are other proposals we are considering so don’t take that list as a definite. There’s talk of marching back to the changing rooms after the game is over, if the players are fit for it. This will be a special day for everyone.”
A stumbling block has surfaced though as Armagh have demanded they walk their tradition route on the outside, closest to the crowd. However, Tyrone are refusing to also give up their right to the outside lane and there are concerns there’ll be a stand-off. PSNI officials have reminded both county boards that they’ll employ water cannons if an impasse is reached on this issue.