7 December 2006 Edition
Matt Treacy Column
Francie and the Pudding Elves
When you are sitting up half the night waiting for the Christmas pudding to be done, you need something to keep you occupied and focused. It also provides plenty of time to think and thus it was that I considered, and rejected, Ciara's proposal that we devote ourselves full time to the production of puddings.
We could make eight puddings a day, seven days a week and sell them for maybe €15 a pop. Total earnings: €840. Total costs: approx. _160. Net profit: €680. The only downside is that neither of us could ever leave the house again as steaming puddings require constant attention and the preparation of the ingredients is fairly labour intensive. We would be like the pudding elves. If there are such creatures and at four o'clock in the morning you are prepared to accept that there might be.
So I distracted myself by trying to remember how to play the second part of the Salamanca reel on the bouzouki and strumming along to maudlin songs about Dublin which generally involve some chap being jilted by a one eyed vagrant and taking to the drink and then committing a series of horrendous murders because of his issues.
Of course there is always the television and in fairness there were funny bits in Full Metal Jacket. Now I know where John Crawley got some of his best lines! Then I was briefly transfixed by an utterly bizarre show on UTV that seems to revolve around people ringing in and trying to win money by guessing words.
Maybe it was sleep deprivation or the pudding fumes or the emotional impact of songs about lads being dumped by women who sold offal on the Ha'penny Bridge but I found it quite difficult to switch over, not least because of the host. Alex I think her name is who by the barest perceptible movement of an eyebrow or tilt of her head was able to induce Darren in Deptford and Keith in Kettering to ring in and chance their arm. And spend their money.
Not that you'd blame them mind. She had the sort of bewitching manner that would easily persuade a lad to things that were out of character. Like the time I hugged a girl in a Kildare jersey in Croke Park and was rewarded for my pains with a sharp jab of her mother's flag stick. I'm not sure if she objected to my ethnicity or my sinister demeanour. Or maybe that the hug lingered just a bit too long. Anyway I felt like Moe from the Simpsons. "My name's Matt. Or as the ladies like to refer to me. -'Hey you in the bushes'."
But enough of that. I don't want you to be getting a bad, or perhaps worse, impression of me.
Last Sunday's club finals were again marred by atrocious weather conditions which also caused the cancellation of racing at Fairyhouse. Apparently it was weather that you wouldn't send a dog or a horse out in but it was okay for hurlers and footballers! The strong winds, which carried the puck out in Limerick almost the length of the pitch, had a major bearing on the outcome of all the games played.
Although not as much as the referee and the umpires in the Toomevara versus Erin's Own Munster hurling final. It was an exciting match despite the conditions and was level going into time added on when Erin's Own were awarded a 65 but this was over-ruled by the referee Ger Hoey from Clare. A point was by no means guaranteed given that it would have been into the gale but even a wide would probably have guaranteed the Cork side a replay. Instead, the ball went the other way and an attempted point from Michael Bevan was batted down by the Erin's Own goalkeeper Shay Bowen and then put out over the line by one of the Toomevara forwards. In another inexplicable and rare moment of generosity from a Clare man to Tipp hurlers, a 65 was given and Ken Dunne made no mistake.
The Cork chaps were understandably irate and Ger had to be escorted away by the Guards. I don't like slagging refs as they have a difficult job to do but in this instance he was clearly mistaken, possibly on both 65s, but certainly on the second one and that cost Erin's Own the match.
Mind you, my own family do not have a good reputation as match officials. An uncle once waved a perfectly legitimate goal wide after it hit the back stanchion and rebounded onto the pitch. The scorer ran in to remonstrate claiming that it was the best goal he had ever scored. Only to be contradicted by the uncle who told him that it was the best goal he never scored. Another time my father got into trouble for hitting someone with a water bottle. Behaviour unbecoming an umpire apparently. I think that incident was provoked by another umpire who laughed at Lar Foley for missing a penalty. Not a wise thing to do.
Crossmaglen won their fifth Ulster title on Sunday in Casement Park in a rather strange match in which Ballinderry failed to score until the last ten minutes. Apparently the biggest cheer of the day came when Francie bounded onto the pitch to take up a position in the forwards! Wonders will never cease.
By the way, Francie also has his own fan website. As a fan I of course checked it out. It features a poem that contains the immortal line: "Every ball's a prisoner til Francie lets it go." When you click on the section devoted to Francie quotes you are informed "If Francie ever says anything interesting I'll let you know."