The Tyrone County Board have assured Croke Park that their new mascot, Red Hand Man, won’t be appearing again this year after he goaded the rival Derry supporters with obscene hand gestures and verbals of a questionable nature.
The mascot, which is a large foam red hand placed over the head and body of a mystery person, ran onto the pitch with the team at the start and even took part in some of the warm up routines, much to the amusement of the children in the 5000-strong crowd at Owenbeg.
After Derry’s second goal in the first half, it was evident that the mascot was somewhat upset with the scoreline, as he folded in three of his massive foam fingers, leaving 2 large red fingers protruding in the air in front of the Derry support. Johnny Kearney from Knockloughrim explained:
“It was an obvious 2-fingered gesture at us, hi. I had to cover my wee lad’s eyes. Two boys from Swatragh were about to jump over the fence to give him a hiding, only he shouted that he was just letting us know Derry had scored 2 goals in case we couldn’t count. We didn’t know if that was an insult or not so we let it go.”
Later in the game, after Tyrone had taken the lead following a remarkable comeback, it appeared the mascot appeared to get carried away and, using his loudspeaker inside the costume, shouted over to the Derry support, ‘ha ha yiz inbred hoors‘, according to sources.
Ground security managed to pull Red Hand Man to safety as missiles such as blue rope, hammers, Mars bars, cans of Lilt, bales of hay, spanners and front wheels of wheelbarrows rained down from the stand as over 60 men tried to jump over the fence at the final whistle.
The Tyrone Board apologised for the mascot’s antics and added that he’d been drinking whiskey inside the costume as well.
Ballinderry native, Jake Bateson, was quietly bundled into the boot of a Ford Cortina and driven to a remote Sperrin location after being unveiled as a Derry spy making basic notes on the impressive new Tyrone sporting venue.
Officials were alerted to his presence after a series of unusual actions finally identified him as a rock solid Derry man, particularly from the loughshore. Garvaghey Centre chief bouncer Henry Harte explained:
“As soon as he walked in I was suspicious, like as if he was trying too hard. He was wearing a 1986 Tyrone top and kept shouting ‘there’s no London in Tyrone’. GAA president Liam O’Neill looked a bit startled. Then during the tour he kept taking photos of everything, even the toilets. It was all just a bit weird. There were a lot of important men in suits perturbed.”
Initial suspicions were confirmed as soon as the main dignitaries took to the stage during the official opening:
“We were keeping a close eye on him at this stage. Whereas other journalists were using laptops, this fellow took out a page and a red crayon. Then he produced an abacus and counted the number of speakers by moving a bead along. He was also facing the wrong way. Classic signs of a Derry native.”
On eviction, Bateson wept openly, claiming he was sent by ‘Men from Owenbeg’ and tried to cut a lock off Brian Dooher’s hair.