Owen Mulligan, Philip Jordan, Hub Hughes and Brian McGuigan are set to become the latest big name sporting stars to make their way to the Far East as Shanghai Emmets splashed out on all four in the hope that GAA rivals soccer as the biggest athletic attraction in China.
Early reports are sketchy but rumours suggest Mulligan, whose blonde locks are revered east of India, will be able to command upwards on £500’000 a week for the Emmets – making him comparable to the wages of Messi, Ronaldo and Roger Federer in world sport.
Killeeshil’s Kevin Hughes, whose nickname ‘Hub’ translates as ‘accurate one’ in Chinese, has reportedly spent the last week learning all the dishes in his favourite Silver Chopsticks Chinese Takeaway in Dungannon in their native language. Close friend and fellow ex-Killeeshil great Michael Hagan admitted it’s a big move for the 2003 All Ireland man-of-the-match recipient:
“It’ll be hard being away from loved ones but if Hub plays about 20 league and championship games out there, he’ll come home with around £10m tax-free. He’ll be able to buy Killeeshil and maybe a bit of Cabragh too. That’s as long as he’s not dropped.”
Jordan and McGuigan are said to be already on their way to the land of the Red Dragon in order to do a few laps at Chinese altitude. Their first game is against the Guangzhou Evergrande Pearses is due to be played in three week’s time.
Former county stars Ryan Mellon and Chris Lawn have been playing in China for over twelve months already for the Beijing Guoan St Mary’s, taking them to the Intermediate title. Due to his natural leadership tendencies, Lawn is reportedly already an Emperor, the first Moortown man to be so.
Several members of Tyrone triple All-Ireland winning teams from the mid 2000s have warned Feargal Logan’s U21 team to be prepared for increased digging and slapping sessions from opponents who cheered them on at the weekend, as they return to the Tyrone club scene.
A 2-time All-Ireland winner from that era, who wishes to remain anonymous, reckons fixtures down by the loughshore are to be feared as they ‘love to bring medallists down a peg or two‘ especially if they turn up to games wearing earphones or fancy boots.
“After the final whistle in 2005, three fellas from Ardboe carried me off the Croke Park turf on their shoulders, crying tears of joy. Two weeks later and the same three lads kicked the dung clean out of me when we played Ardboe in a meaningless league game. One of them even said ‘who do ye think ye are ye big-headed tramp‘ and I’m a quiet sort of lad.”
Logan is to send the victorious squad to a psychologist in Mayo for two days in order to prepare them for the verbals they’ll face from the average club player.
Carrickmore squad player Patsy Gormless admitted he can’t wait to get a chance to play against some of the new All-Ireland medallists:
“I remember playing against the Moy shortly after the 2003 All-Ireland final. I managed to deck all three of Cavanagh, Mellon and Jordan within five minutes of the throw in. Caught Jordan with a belter to the back of the head. He’s my favourite Tyrone player too and he made me so proud to be a Tyrone man that year. But he was probably thinking he was deadly so I cracked him.”
It was widely reported that after the 2008 All-Ireland win Ryan McMenamin purposely punched himself in a club game to knock the cockiness out of himself.
Referees have been told to be on their guard but were also warned that any decisions awarded to the new medallists will only antagonise opponents even more.
Meanwhile, an Ardboe defender admitted he purposely floored a county man playing for Omagh on Sunday for wearing his socks up too high.