Red Branch Knights
By Sean O'Donaile
I should really be writing about snooker and Ken Doherty's World
Title, but I'd prefer to write about Tyrone's Red Branch Knights
There's not a whole lot to say about this snooker lark, except
that Ken Doherty got his scar not, as widely believed, in a match
with Alex Higgins, but when he fell off his Mammy's coal shed on
his holy Communion Day and ruined his suit into the bargain. He's
not, as the Brits would have you believe, the ``second overseas
champion'', but the third Irish champion after Alex in 1972 and
`82 and Coalisland's Dennis Taylor, who used to play minor
football for Tyrone but had to change to snooker when his glasses
kept falling off. The Brits will have to console themselves with
the Eurovision, which will cost them £5 million to stage and £25
million to keep the telephone from ringing!
Dublin has gone snooker crazy and everyone loves Ken, except for
Eamon Dunphy who said ``the lad is just no good''. John Bruton has
started playing but says he won't play ``with the men of
violence'', and he knows even less about snooker than he does
about the National Question.
Those of us with square eyes and square arses spent the weekend
watching the green baize, while those of us with more energy
followed the pursuit of The Shinners and Chuckfaidhs who were
even more successful than the bould Ken, who instead of bringing
his cup to Old Trafford, should be parading it in Dalymount or on
There's a misconception at the moment that Tyrone's glory days
are over but nothing could be further from the truth - St. Pat's
of Dungannon won the All Ireland Colleges Football Final last
week and the county Vocational side were unlucky to lose the All
Ireland title bout to Kerry; Martin McGuinness and Pat Doc'
brought more joy to the Red Hand County and Willie McCrea has
retired to his accordion and Gospel rock and roll.
other little noticed triumph has been the steady rise of Tyrone
hurlers. After capturing the All Ireland Junior Hurling title
last year they now top Division 4 of the National League.
Monaghan hurlers have reaped benefits from the Mad Cows crisis as
one of hurling's best known Gardai, Joe Hayes, posted to the
border to halt the infiltration of the London Dairy cows, has
spurred them to new heights. That was until they met the Red
You won't find any off-duty ``police'' playing for Tyrone, rather
it's been the efforts of anonymous individuals throughout
Tyrone's seven senior clubs and beyond that's led to their
revival and their low-key approach to the Monaghan game paid off
with Killyclogher's Vinny Owens cancelling out Cowboy Hayes, and
the Devlins, Terry McGowan and Peter Kerry doing the damage. And
that was that.
While Rome plays politics and snooker, Tyrone hurls - as JJ says
``you can have your Eurovision - we have our MPs and our hurlers -
and this is just the beginning!''