Michael Fennelly - one of the best
There are a number of red-flag phrases that automatically arouse the attention of SIGINT (signals intelligence) eavesdroppers at the National Security Agency, based at Fort Meade, Maryland in the US.
A phone call monitored last week between two hitherto unknown potential enemy operatives in Ireland, codenamed “Ned” and “Brian”, immediately triggered alarm bells. Via high-level sources, Endgame can exclusively bring you the transcript of the call…
Brian: So how did you get on over the Christmas?
Ned: Best Christmas ever, thanks. It’s fantastic not being county board chairman any more. So many things not to have to worry about. I mean, if I had to chair yet another county board meeting I’d have screamed.
Even the little details you have to see to when you’re chairman. For example, making sure we had enough stewards on duty in Nowlan Park for the Ballyragget/Glenealy match. And just as well too.
Brian: Oh yeah, I saw the photos afterwards. The Glenealy fans at the final whistle. Very excited, weren’t they? At first I assumed someone had told them Fifi was in the crowd.
Ned: God, if I ever hear that name again… And even making sure the county board runs smoothly is a job in itself. I mean, look at Limerick.
Brian: What happened there?
Ned: The usual rí rá agus ruaille buaille. It’s Limerick, after all. Murder at the county convention. The treasurer said he wasn’t given access to the accounts and was nothing more than a glorified book-keeper. I know you don’t get that in Kilkenny, but keeping the show on the road takes time and trouble. Anyway, anything nice from Santy?
Ned: That’s a pity. What did you ask for?
Brian: A new full-back: no joy. A new centre-back: no joy. A new Michael Fennelly: no joy. A new half-forward line: no joy. A replacement for Colin Fennelly: no joy.
It’s not fair. I was a good boy last year. I even took the blame for our early championship exit. You’d think Santy might have made it up to me a bit. I need a weapons upgrade for next year. Some serious hardware.
[Sirens shriek in Fort Meade]
Ned: Ah look, maybe the Walsh Cup will throw up someone new. When are we playing again?
Brian: Next Wednesday. January 3. Laois in O’Moore Park.
Ned: January 3. Laois. O’Moore Park. Oh Lord.
Brian: My thoughts exactly. I think I feel the flu coming on. Might outsource this one to Mick Dempsey. He’ll be right at home.
Ned: So did you get anything for Christmas outside of hurling?
Brian: The usual. Music. Fair play, Elsie and the two boys are terrific for that. Remastered stuff from Springsteen and Neil Young and Dylan this year.
Ned: Pa’s cousin?
Brian: You’re very fond of cracking that one, aren’t you? So any presents yourself?
Ned: No, but I did finally get around to reading the Fr Tommy Maher book. Never had the time before now. Fascinating story, although the writing isn’t great. Best man over a team that Kilkenny ever had.
Brian: Em, sorry?
Ned, coughing: I said, ‘Second-best man over a team that Kilkenny ever had’… Only problem was, Lucy tells me I’m spending far too much time at home now I’m no longer chairman. I suspect I’m getting under her feet. And I’m no good at washing the dishes, apparently.
Brian: I know the feeling. Why do you think I’m back for another year? But it was a funny Christmas being at home. Usually we’d be on a trip with Kilkenny. America or South Africa or the moon or somewhere. On second thoughts, I might make O’Moore Park after all. It’s either that or die of boredom.
By the way, what do Central Council actually do?
Ned: Haven’t a clue. But it won’t be long before I find out. And I’ve no doubt I’ll be running the place before too long after that.
Brian: I’ve no doubt either. See you in Portlaoise.