Theft of county tactics manual and sabotaged national anthem to blame for early All Ireland exit says Ambassador Kelly.
Louth County Board have issued a regional appeal for the safe return of the county tactics manual. The manual, which has since been downgraded to a pamphlet (after a more detailed description was given to Gardaí by members of the county board), was reported as missing on Sunday afternoon. It was last seen on the dashboard of Ambassador and erstwhile Louth manager Colin Kelly’s Renault Megane half an hour before His Excellency was due to deliver this year’s tactical instructions ahead of the Leinster Senior Championship opener against Leftmeath at the Gaelic Grounds in Drogheda.
The veritable bible of Louth tactics is responsible for the Wee haul of three All Ireland titles in the century just past including the county’s first triumph when talk of the tactics manual frightened Kerry into not turning up for the 1911 showpiece; a tactical feat that it is hard to see ever being eclipsed in the modern game. The manual has been added to over the years and is responsible for Louth’s famous 1990s philosophy If we can’t win the match we’ll fuckenwell win the fight which was demonstrated to great acclaim in the televised 1991 Leinster Semi Final defeat against Laois. The importance of the manual to the continued development of gaelic football in the county is reflected in the hefty €18000 reward on offer by the county board for information leading to its recovery.
The theft of the pamphlet went a long way to explain the Wee county’s lacklustre display as they succumbed to a side not deemed important enough to be named in their own right. However, none of this was known by the swollen crowd who braved inclement weather and successive relegations to give cheer to the sons of Cúchulainn.
Outside the ground, pushy Yes campaigners added a dash of colour to proceedings on an otherwise grey and drab afternoon. Such a gathering of red pants hadn’t been seen in the town since a lethal cocktail of chunky thighed Clogher boys, caught skinny jeaned and posing in unseasonal showers on the Hugh de Lacy Bridge, overwhelmed the Lourdes A&E with burst thighs back in the hot summer of 2013.
Inside the ground there was a buzz that lasted until Amhrán na bhFiann was sung by a honey voiced woman possibly from Athlone. The predominantly male crowd were unable to mumble their way through or build up a head of steam due to the slow pace of the tune and the exemplary elocution of the singstress. By the time the song was interrupted by the first shouts of “C’mon Louth!” the crowd was already suffering from an embarrassment that seeped its way onto the pitch and infected the players in what was a complete role reversal of how things usually pan out. And when one of Martin Sludden’s colleagues was spotted making his way onto the pitch with the match ball, seasoned Louth watchers knew the game was up.
With no game plan to deliver, Ambassador Kelly handed the dressing room over to legendary GAA wisdom guru Mick O’Dwyer, now part of the backroom staff and still with some mileage in his tank even after a long drive up from unveiling a Páidí Ó Sé statue in Ventry the previous day. The Waterville maestro’s passionate Kerry brogue wasn’t enough to lift the team and his game plan of keeping a clean sheet was shattered after only a minute as Westmeath’s Ray Connellan pointed. It is fair to say that the Louthmen never really recovered from this early blow.
The game then followed a familiar pattern with Louth being heavily outscored by the opposition.
Many were quick to scoff at the Kerryman’s being brought into the Louth fold with some even suggesting Ambassador Kelly was following in the political footsteps of Peter Fitzpatrick who famously hired a GAA guru in Brian McEniff in 2010 before losing that year’s Leinster Final in controversial circumstances and riding a wave of public sympathy by getting elected to the Dáil in the 2011 General Election. But O’Dwyer is a canny operator and immediately after the game signed the panel up to the Kellogg’s summer Cúl Camp that was advertised in the match programme.
Speaking after the game, a visibly annoyed Ambassador Kelly spoke to journalists.
“I’m not going to stand here and make excuses,” explained Ambassador Kelly. “But we were hoping to recreate Galatasary’s Ali Sami Yen cauldron of hate here in the O’Rathallaighs to intimidate the Westmeath players so we were. But when they heard that anthem sure they must have thought us a soft touch. The hill was very subdued. Perhaps they were mulling over the proposed changes to the age of presidential eligibility though I did see what I thought was a Welcome to Hell banner behind the goal but Eugene tells me it said Welcome to Mell. But that’s not to make excuses. There were a lot of young lads out there and the panel was unsettled by rumours that Blackie Judge is about to sign for the Sydney Swans.”
Ambassador Kelly lay the blame squarely on the cowards who stole the tactics manual and lamented the loss of what he called his tactical magnum opus in which four different coloured highlighters were used.
“’Twas in the car so ’twas. All me notes and everything were writ in it. I couldn’t believe it so I couldn’t. There I was, half an hour before the game and no game plan! And it was a tactical fucken masterclass so it was. I’d stapled it on to the county manual. Sure it was so far ahead of its time that modern methods of recording information had a hard time capturing it; a tactical iCloud of a plan. But I could stand here and feel sorry for myself or wonder why we’ve been so unlucky this here year but I won’t. We have to mentally prepare for the qualifiers.
Louth are now entered into the qualifiers.