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Meeting ‘The President’ Michael D. Higgins at Tolka Park


Blaise and myself were late heading down to TolkaPark for Shelbourne against Galway on Friday. We knew kick-off was imminent as we approached the ground and heard Pigbag’s ‘’Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’’ booming out, a sign that the teams had taken the pitch.

The sounds of the national anthem following on threw us though. All became clear when we entered the ground and were told that President Higgins was in attendance. Ah, Shels were hosting Galway. The penny dropped. We’d seen plenty of politicians on the walk down, blowing in the wind as Storm Hannah gave the newly put-up posters a stern test, but Michael D was a cut above the lot of them.

As we made our way to our seats we passed the manhimself and he waved down at Blaise. Blaise was delighted, and impressed to see that Micahel D was wearing a cowboy hat. Blaise is going through a cowboy film phase at the moment.

Michael D certainly looked happy sitting amongst the 900-strong attendance, supporting his team. A president with a genuine love for League of Ireland soccer; if Carlsberg did presidents and all that.

Galway matched Shelbourne in the first half but Shels upped the ante after the break with a 20-yard cracker from Ryan Brennan. Sorry Michael D. He won’t have been happy with what he saw next as Dara Costelloe and Stephen Walsh saw red for the visitors within three minutes of each other.

Things went from bad to worse for bottom-of-the-table Galway when Ciaran Kilduff was played in and slotted the ball home for the second goal and the rout was completed in injury time with a 30-yard beauty from Oscar Brennan. Job done.

The win left Shelbourne just a point behind Cabinteely who had been held to a draw in the ‘’El DARTico’’ at the Carlisle Grounds, bringing to an end their winning run. The top of the table remains tightly bunched with only a couple of results separating the top six.

The result aside, hopefully Michael D enjoyed his night out. I’m not sure if Pigbag is the kind of thing he’d usually have on his playlist in the Aras, and presumably he didn’t see a half-time outing for Tears For Fears’ ‘’Everybody Wants To Rule The World’’ as a dig; he only wants to rule Ireland after all!

Brian Quigley

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