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 students and 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 (or even at Wetherspoon’s in Dun Laoghaire). And yet, doubts had sneaked in and multiplied as the team news leaked onto Twitter: Mr. ODulaing, our Paul McGrath, and Mr. Kilcommons, our Tony Adams, were unavailable. Mr. Bolger was pre-occupied with domestic duties and, our talisman, Mr. Ahern, he who had somehow scored three times without using his feet or head, had moved on to a different team. And everyone, especially Mr. Trenier, was a year older. And the Sixth Years had Marlon.
But Pat McGrath, our Director of Football, showed up with a bag full of tactics, having recently returned from the Soccer Academies of the Basque country. And he and Mr. Latvis managed to field the perefct mix of veteran guile and youthful (relative) energy. Answering the call were ‘T-Dawg’ Trenier and ‘Show -Me’ Sheridan, the well-seasoned anchors of our defence; Mr. ‘Hightower’ Magee, an agile giant in the leftback position; Mr. ‘Ace’ O’Brien, who brought his skater-punk ethic and fashion sense to the right wing; youngsters ‘Dig it, Dag it’ Doggett, ‘Pretty Boy’ Murphy, Shane ‘Robertson’ Robinson and the crossover duo of Mr. Gahan and Sean Ingle. There were some ‘adjunct’ staff, too: another Mr. Latvis, who teaches Applied Latin on Saturdays; Gavin Sheridan, our night watchman; and Dr. Jack Nolan, who once moved some chairs for an Alumni Dinner a few years ago. Tirelessly pursuing Marlon all over the pitch, and partially disrobing him, was our resident, hard-nosed ginger midfielder: ‘Wolverine’ Lonergan. And contrasting in style, but just as efficient, were Mr. Conroy, who played wing with modern language flair, and our Wellness Guru, Mr. Porzadny, who played right back while in a permanent state of ethereal bliss.
To be fair the students gave us a great match, and the football was surprisingly flowing. Except for one titanic, manly mid-air collision between Trenier and McKay, which seemed to rip a hole in the space-time continuum, most of the play was stylish and pleasing. There was a bit of whinging on the students’ side about some good, old-fashioned tackling, but the youngsters did also manage to play a bit: Alex Murphy was strong in goals; Ronan Connor combined some American-style athletic play with attempted continental skulduggery; Gavin Nugent brought the strength and Pedro brought the style (and one dirty tackle); Tim Leary never stopped running; Conor Power was as solid and noble as ever and Rory was avant-garde in his moves as he is with his movies. There was a strong supporting cast, and, of course, Marlon. That old football commentary of ‘A different class! A different class!’ was ringing in our ears every time he took the ball and floated through midfield. But we had some style, too. A Mr. Latvis scored a stunner of a free-kick; Shane’s tireless efforts chasing everything down yielded a hard-won goal, and our part-time, night watchman Gavin Sheridan launched an unstoppable blast from another dead ball. Okay, there was a bit of Stoke in our Barcelona, but… job done, Goblet of Fire retained!