Category: Archive

Merseysiders win Worthington down at the local

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

“I’m heading over now to grab a spot and get some banter going before the game. There will be some slagging at this one,” said the United supporter from Canon Mooney Gardens. On a more serious note, Ward predicted that if United got an early goal, it could be a 3-0 result, but at the same time he felt Liverpool could win on the day. Off he sauntered across Bridge Street and disappeared into Bunit and Simpsons to meet his wife, Ann, and their son Warren, all decked out in United attire.
The pub was nicely crammed as Fran Hopkins and Paul Rod Lillycrap, from Stella Gardens in Irishtown, greeted supporters of both teams. Typical Irish hospitality from the Stella men who seemed neutral on Worthington Cup day. It was indeed the ideal welcome at the Bunit entrance but once deeper into the pub it was apparent that the Ringsend locals take their football very seriously. Manager Michael Cleary and barman Biffo, although adamant Leeds United fans, insisted on working the Worthington shift.
In the far left-hand corner, Liverpool supporters gathered under the TV where their banner draped halfway up the wall. Planted in the midst of their contingent were a few United fans, including the Wards. “There he is, Roy Keane, the best player in the world,” said Ward, winding the Liverpool locals. “He’s nothing but a knacker,” replied Mick Kemple, an avid Liverpool fan from O’Rahilly House behind the church. And from the background came the comment, “He’s given everything he’s got for Ireland, even his hip.” Everybody cracked up laughing. Then the starting whistle blew and the roof was raised off the house.
Mattie Ennis remained cool in the heat of it all as he kept a close eye on Ryan Giggs, who he’d backed at 9/1 to score the opening goal. A few days earlier, Giggs had scored two against Juventus in the Champions League. “I’m hoping he’s on a roll. I fancy his chances,” Ennis said.
United got off to a flyer and were looking dangerous as a sweeping move went right down the field for Giggs to miss a clear-cut chance. Ennis sighed. In the first 15 minutes it was obvious Liverpool were sitting in, as United seemed hungrier and more skillful. A confident Ennis remarked: “Ferguson has told his team, ‘Look these are muck, let’s go out there and hammer them.’ And Houllier has told his team, ‘Listen lads do the best you can.’ “
Suddenly there was uproar when Gary Neville went down with a belt to the face and United was awarded a free kick. “That’s a load of bollix, referee. Nobody touched him, nee-naw, nee-naw, bring in the ambulance.” Then the voice from the background once again had the whole place laughing. “Well, at least it didn’t make his nose any bigger. God bless him.” The game went somewhat flat in the middle stages of the first half, as the Liverpool line of defense started to slowly develop an attack. While United looked dangerous enough, Liverpool were getting more into the game. Then the Ennis twins, Matthew and Owen, appeared under the TV in their Liverpool gear. “Come on, Liverpool,” the boys roared as everybody settled down.
Ringsender Nellie Barry had her seat facing out into the pub away from the TV screen. “I didn’t come here to watch the game, I came here to see the craic and watch all these head cases,” she said, laughing. “It’s unbelievable. They really get into it. Watching their carry on is more entertaining than the game.”
Then it happened — the spilling of drink and the knocking of stools.
Just before halftime, Steven Gerrard’s deflected shot went over Fabien Barthez and looped into the back of the net to put Liverpool in the lead, 1-0. The pub burst into a celebration as Liverpool supporters leaped off of their stools in triumph. The Ennis twins disappeared under the crowds but out they popped chanting, “Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool.” But their poor old Dad, Mattie, was left stuck to his seat, over his empty pint glass and a torn-up betting slip. United’s boss Sir Alex Ferguson had concern written all over his face, much to the delight of the Bunit/Liverpool faithful. “Hah, it serves you right, come on Liverpool,” one said.
At halftime, United fans were not convinced that Keane and David Beckham were doing well. “I think I’ll go back to the church and say a prayer for United,” Ward said. “Keane is not as dominant as he usually is in the middle.” But some Liverpool supporters expected the Red Devils to come back with a surge of pressure in the second half. Paddy Kelly from Irishtown was worried as the second half got under way. “I expect United to score. We are celebrating far too early. We have a long way to go, and the last few minutes are when United are most dangerous. I hate to say it though, Keane’s days of running up and down from 18 to 18 are over. He’s better off in the back line now.
“I’m dreading when the Gunnar Ole comes off the bench for United,” Kelly added. “Liverpool could do with this trophy. It will boost our confidence for the league run.”
The second half seemed like forever as Jersy Dudek continued to stop shots by United. However, Liverpool continued to defend really well as the clock ticked away. Nerves got on edge. Liverpool supporters were hurling abuse at the United players in desperation, and hoping for their Super Reds to give them that Worthington Cup. Kemple couldn’t sit still. Tony Flood from Stella Gardens was quick to notice some United tops being removed as he smiled over at the Wards. The clock had indeed run down to the most dangerous time in the game, the final minutes.
But it was to be Liverpool’s day. Mikael Silvestre’s dreadful control in the center of the field allowed Didier Hamann to put through Michael Owen, who sped into the United penalty area before slotting home past Barthez. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” echoed around the bar as Owen secured the game and the trophy. The Bunit buzz after the game was that Liverpool would go on to win the UEFA Cup and qualify for the Champions League. For United fans in Ringsend it’s not so clear. Noel Boland, Glen O’Connor and George Gannon all agreed: “We didn’t get it right on the day, Liverpool did. We won’t win the league, no way, but we do have a chance in the Europe.”

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