A daily diary of the 2015 VAFA Ireland tour from the perspective of father and Big V supporter, Russell Barnes.
All set and ready to head off to Galway, the group was pretty well considering the celebration of the night before and everyone was accounted for.
Turned out to be a long travel day but was broken up by a visit to the beautiful but certainly windy Cliffs of Moher which were quite spectacular. Arrived at the Pillo Hotel in Galway at five-ish and freshened up prior to going out for dinner.
Everyone did their own thing pregame and walked around Galway before heading off to the Tuam Stars for the night’s game. What a sensational effort by the Tuam Stars! We arrived at the ground with the theme song blaring over the loud speakers and then the next song we hear is Men at Work’s ‘I come from a land down under’.
Well there were kid’s games, face painting and Wayne Handley and Rob Viney were seen sporting the Big V on their right cheeks of their face. Many of the kids wanted photos with the players in their Big V gear. Certainly an exciting time for the Tuam All Stars and the game lived up to all expectations. After the game was done we ate upstairs in the clubroom gym and then went to the club’s local pub to continue the proceedings. The bus picked us up at 12 to take us back to our hotel, with Marshall Batteries Rippon awarded the Spirit of the Big V award for his standout performance.
It’s quarter-finals time in the Rugby World Cup, so we all went down to a pub in the city to watch Ireland v Argentina which Argentina won – the scene of the Irish jumping around after scoring their tries makes you wonder how they would have been if they had won. Oh well maybe 2019. Then we saw Australia v Scotland which the Aussies won in the last minute with a penalty conversion by Bernard Foley after he missed three shots in the first half. Unbelievable!
Left the Pillo at 10:30am and hit the road for the three hour trek to Dublin. Arrived at the Spencer Docklands and had a bit of a wait as for some reason the keys to the apartments are kept some 10 kilometres away from where they are actuality needed. Weird security over here in Dublin. Anyway, the keys are collected and some of the rooms are not ready – well one room isn’t ready. Yep, Jude, Doc Barnett, Grant O’Donnell and my room is the one not ready. Oh well doesn’t matter gave us a chance to have a bite to eat while the boys went for an educational run to Trinity College and back.
A small group including myself, Jude, Sloppy Silfo, Physio Mark and the Coach went on a John Kanis walking tour of Dublin. One of our stops was at a pub called the Oliver Jonathon McConaghy Hotel where a couple of older blokes were having a jam session singing some original Irish tunes mixed in with a bit of Eagles and some other modern contemporaries. After staying there for a while we went off and had some dinner and called it a night. Back at Spencer Hotel CEO Sholly, Musha, parents Tony and Anne Caven, Damien and Jo Sullivan, Rob Viney and Grant O’Donnell along with some of the boys Ash Viney, Tom O’Donnell to name a couple were having a meal.
After a somewhat restless night at our new accommodation, it was up and about and off to training at St Patrick’s University where the boys had a solid session. Tom Sullivan commenced some light jogging with a hope of fronting up in the next game or so.
After training we went on a really informative tour of Croke Park, which for those not up to speed is like the MCG of Ireland. From there it was every man and women for themselves. Coincidentally, a good percentage of us ended up in Temple Bar – the entertainment hub of Dublin. The pubs in Dublin look small from the front but expand once inside with a number of little nooks and crannies with different bands playing. Had a ball at the Temple Bar pub with an Irish trio pumping out the music. Sholl left to pick up his daughter Matilda from the airport and both joined us later for a bite to eat. Sounds like Matilda had had a great time in her four month travels, great to have her on board.
Doc Barnett had an early start as he was giving a talk at the local Children’s Hospital so he was off at 7:30am – nice and early.
It was hop on hop off bus day today. Went past St Patrick’s Cathedral which had a cemetery where the inventor of the crossword was buried. His grave was located three down and five across – funny that haha. From there we got off at the Guinness Factory where you were able to do a tour of the factory with a bit of a sample and a free pint of Guinness when you reach the top.
A man of great foresight was Arthur Guinness when he established the factory he took out a 9000 year lease – he obviously thought the Guinness may take a while to ferment and mature. Looking at all the past advertising of Guinness we walked past the Whistling Oyster who just happened to be whistling the Hampton Rovers theme song “oh we do like to be beside the seaside” you just can’t go anywhere without finding an amateur football connection.
For those interested, yes I did sample the taste of a Guinness.
Then it was back on the bus with some people hopping off to tour the Kilmainham Gaol. Let’s hope none of our blokes get kept in there.
With the game against the combined universities starting at 4:45ish it was time to head back to our luxury apartments and prepare for the game.
It was a bleak old affair out at the St Patrick’s University with finally a bit of traditional Irish weather hitting our tour. Up against a young Uni side our boys created a bit of havoc and won the game 110 to 32. Defenders didn’t have much to do. Chopper was a good target up forward with Ash Viney kicking a great goal and Jamie ‘Duck’ Mugavin was good at either forward or back. Great to see Tom Sullivan get a bit of ground time under his belt and do well. Spirit of the Big V went to Michael Barnes after a good midfield performance. Thanks to Gus Patty for killing it as the goalkeeper and coming back from a reco. No after match until after St Patrick’s 8pm game when the boys went on with it.
Amongst them were Sloppy Silfo and Physio Mark Tomlinson who didn’t get home until after 4am – a good effort but even better to follow.