Things did not look good for the Staff Team in the moments leading up to kick-off. Yes, we had retained the legendary ‘Goblet of Fire’ for over ten years. Yes, we always play a stylish sort of football, which leaves the various Irish national teams which frequent the Irishtown facility gnashing their teeth in jealousy on the sidelines. And yes, the current 6th Year soccer-heads did not look remotely capable of organising the proverbial beverage imbibery in a brewery. And yet, doubts had sneaked in and multiplied as the team news leaked onto Twitter: Willie Malone, an absolute beast between the posts, was indeed staying retired. Mr. ODulaing, our Paul McGrath, was unavailable. Mike Travers, the quintessential ‘modern fullback’, was out with an ICT injury. Mr. Stephen Sheridan was busy at his new school, playing croquet and cricket. Our talisman, Mr. Ahern, he who had somehow scored three times without using his feet or head, was likewise unavailable. And everyone, especially Mr. Bolger, was a year older. But Pat McGrath, our Director of Football showed up and steadied the ship and we soldiered on, taking heart in some of the newer blood: literally in the case of Mr. Gleeson, who left copious amounts of his in puddles where he had withstood the vicious lunges of various 6th Years. Also answering the call were Mr. Tony ‘Adams’ Kilcommons, ‘Twelvetrees’ Trenier and Mr. ‘Show-Me’ Sheridan, the anchors of our defence; Mr. Magee, an agile giant between the sticks; Mr. O’Brien, who somehow brought his skater-punk ethic and fashion to the right wing; two eager young Latvii; Mr. Sweeney, our Maths ace in the hole who had all the angles measured; and the surprise signee from Brazil via the canteen, Zay, whose flickery and trickery amazed the opposition’s rugby grunts. Supersub Gav Maguire’s last expedition must have followed Ponce de Léon, as he played like a man half his near forty years. And tirelessly running, or jogging, everything down up front was the soon-not-to-be-so-lonely figure of Mr. Bolger.
But the real star of the show was Mr. Lonergan: like Steve Sidwell in his prime, or Neil Lennon slightly after his, our top Tipp man was everywhere, chasing down the ball, taking every single dead-ball kick, tackling with abandon and making sure to tell everyone else exactly what they should be doing, even our august referee, Shay Keenan. ‘Ubiquitous’ you say? At one point Mr. Lonergan not only took a corner, but he was also there on the other end, trying to head it in. If you slow down the replay, you can just barely see a flash of ginger charging at light-speed into the box! Which brings us to Christian, surely the most annoying member of the 6th Year team, and that is saying something! Christian actually scored quite a stylish goal but quickly reminded us who he was with his ridiculous celebration. To give the students their due, they did push, kick, grab, fall down, and moan much better than we expected. And after matching Fernando Torres for magnitude of miss, Oscar ‘Hamlet’ Harley-Monks did balance the ledger. Our major complaint was that at the end of full time, they begged us not to play extra-time, as they had had enough. We kindly acquiesced and kept the goblet!