A Guide to Hillwalking and Mountain-climbing for People who don't know what the F**k they're doing! – Cardiac Hill

Why is the red path bigger than the other paths?

Oh, boys. Cardiac Hill/The Cardiac Steps are aptly named. 20 to 25 minutes of steps and uphill climbing and clamboring. Your legs are on fire straight away, your heart beating out of your chest. You look at your girlfriend/boyfriend/partner ahead of you and wonder would they notice if you quietly slipped back to the car? An elderly couple pass you out, smugly looking back as they haul themselves onto a fresh rock. “Tough ‘aul climb, in’t it?” The Kerry drawl stabs you in your chest, driving you to complete the climb out of sheer, Cork spite. That’s right. It’s another edition of my special guide to hill-walking and mountain-climbing! What qualifies me to write a guide to such activities in different locations around Ireland, you ask. Nothing. Nada. Níl.

Sugarloaf was a walk in the park, literally, compared to the steep and unforgiving climb on the other side of Torc waterfall. You can read about my first climb here.
This post is a much more honest version of the climb!

Preparations

This time around I realised that a drink-free night before a tough climb for a newbie like me would be paramount in my preparations. We had a much smoother process this time around. I was slowly becoming an expert at packing for an hour long walk/climb.

  • Instead of heading out to ring in the New Year, we had an earlyish night in the beautiful city of Cork, soaking up the last bit of civilisation before braving the wilds of Kerry…
  • Myself and K are back in the gym and giving it socks to get fit again. She’s already incredibly fit but I need a bit more work! General exercise will make these walks seem like another challenge, but less of one. Just another notch on the bedpost of hill walks and mountain climbs.
  • Pack a lunch to have after the hike. We packed crackers, bananas, cream cheese, an Aldi wrap and some chocolate. Fill those water bottles!
  • I was better prepared this time and brought a small bag with me for our bottles of water, extra layer, hats, gloves and room for our jackets and hoodies if we got too hot on the climb up.
  • Drive all the way to Torc, park the car, brace yourself for the climb and realise that both pairs of hiking boots are sitting neatly by your back door. Success!

Thoughts Throughout

Only two options when you’re this high up: keep going, or try get back down the way you came!

I felt more confident in the lead up to this climb. Having been in the gym and getting a bit fitter each week I felt good. Read on and see how that hope was dashed, restored and dashed once again at the top.

  • Beginning: OK, not too bad. These are actually fine. Cardiac? Ha Ha. How I laugh at thee! Oh, what was that? These aren’t the steps at all and it’s just a rocky, muddy path that leads us to the steps?? Cool, cool, cool, cool…
  • 20 steps in: What have I done to you, Oh Lord?? Why have you forsaken your son, Father?!
  • Halfway: I am 90% sweat and 10% fiery muscle. There is nothing left in this world but steps. Steps are the Gods, the past, the future and most definitely the present. I give thanks to the steps, for they have given me stability in uncertain times. All hail the steps!
  • Three Quarters: Aha! Level ground! Fuck you steps, you motherfuckers! A few stray rocks are no match for me…..More steps! A steep incline?!! Noooooooooo!!!!!!
  • Top: I am Man. I own mountain now.

Afterthoughts

So…I’m still fairly dramatic! Did I question my faith and transfer my allegiance to the steps? Perhaps! Did I think it would help me on my quest up Cardiac Hill? Of course! Would I abandon my religion for a boost up the rocks? Definitely!
The initial ascent and climb up the steps is tough but it is manageable with a few breaks. A lot of breaks. Not long breaks. Just little ones where you catch your breath, put your hands on your hips, look around and simultaneously admire the view and your surroundings and curse them.
I had a great sense of achievement after this particular climb because it was physically challenging. My legs were on fire, my heart was racing but we got up there! I was admittedly in much worse condition than K but sure look, we’re a team 😀
It was a nice walk down. We stopped off in a grassy area just off the path. Tall oaks and various other types of trees dwarfed us under their leaves and trunks. I stood under them and duly obliged for another ‘candid’ photograph.
We finally looped down to Torc waterfall, joining other groups and families as they looked on at the cascading blue and white foamy water splash over the rocks.Everyone was happy, bar that one screaming child. His sister was smiling, though, so I assume she hit him or took his toy. Anyways, everyone was happy except that one child. It couldn’t be more Irish and perfect if I had envisioned it. One cranky fucker at odds with everyone else!

I don’t have any immediate plans for another walking/hiking/climbing adventure. My manager (who has never climbed the steps but claims “It’s not really climbing”) was talking about the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Carrauntoohil. They might be a bit above my paygrade just yet but we’ll find something in the next few weeks. I secretly love being dramatic if you couldn’t tell!

Is Cork City losing its charm?

There are no Echo boys anymore. Only Echo boys all grown up and still calling the familiar chant down the city streets. I haven’t seen Michael O’Regan in quite some time. Maybe his absence is part of the reason I am becoming disenchanted with the city I call my home.
Living abroad puts double-glazed rose-tinted perspex on your glasses. You miss everything you’d normally miss about your hometown; the people you like; the restaurants and foods you’d normally get; your favourite bars and clubs; and the diversity and multicultural vibe that a city, especially Cork city, could bring. The longer you stay away the more obscure things you miss. I found myself missing the walk from the city out to Blackpool, of all things. While I would much rather walk the 20 minutes from the Opera House to the shopping centre than get on a shitty bus that takes 20 minutes to get from Parnell to the top of Patrick street, now that I have a car I’d rather drive! I missed walking down back roads, like. That’s what being away does to you. You may miss the countryside and develop a new found appreciation for the green grass and the rivers but you’ll also miss the familiarity of walking home from town through a somewhat rundown piece of the city.
To my credit, I didn’t lose my grá for the city straight away. I had some amazing nights out, some lovely afternoons strolling around and one lengthy walk from MacCurtain street to halfway up Washington street, just taking in all the things I hadn’t seen in a year or two. Walking around this Saturday morning dimmed this vision.

I decided to have a walk around the city before going into the library to read my book for a few hours. The rain kept me away from reading outside and the warmth of the library beckoned. I left Paul street and made right towards Grand Parade. I crossed over and walked up Patrick’s street, stopping in to Golden Discs and Easons along the way. Golden Discs was a ghost town and Easons is set to move location to make way for a Sports Direct. Savoy is closed down and an eyesore on the main street. Starbucks and Carrolls Irish gift shops line the top of the street before Merchant’s Quay. I turned down Winthrop street and walked in the direction of the bus stop, passing out coffee shops preparing for the wet day and the heavy black doors of closed pubs. Maybe it was the rain. Maybe it was the early hour and fact that the streets were fairly empty. Maybe it was a mixture of all of the above. There was no buzz in the place. Cork city just seemed like another commercial haven, sleepy-eyed workers resigned to opening up and suffering for another day.
Walking down South Mall towards Grand Parade was depressing. In a monotone street full of dull browns, blues and greys, Fred Zeppelins was the only beacon of colour with their flame dancing above the door. Two worn out bus drivers smoked fags outside the Maldron, glancing at me as I passed by. I started thinking about the city some more and the only word that came to mind was, “Miserable.” The new Lifestyle (new in the fact that it is one of the newest additions to Patrick street) just looms over the rest of the street. Grey and black fill the sky. Even the two McDonalds has conformed to the same dark green at Dawn’s Square and Winthrop street, uniform in colour and bubbling violence after nights out. The pubs and clubs all look the same in the evening, and I’m not even going to mention the menacing tension that pervades Oliver Plunkett street, Washington Street and the fountain after 2 AM. Queuing up for Hillbilly’s almost guarantees you a front row seat for a brawl, a scrap or handbags at ten paces.
Sitting in the library, in between reading and scrolling through Twitter, I couldn’t get my mind off of the state of the city. Cascades of sneachta and Class A fall from our pockets and rob us of our senses, fueling aggro and tension.

Something was rotten in the state of Cork. Perhaps the sheen on the city when I returned had turned to slime and I was watching it greasily slide over my home by the Lee.

Go tobann, I received a text from my girlfriend. On my walk up to meet her outside the hairdressers there was a bit more buzz around the place. Franchises and brands still filled the streets but once I left the main thoroughfare and stood on Paul Street I started to see a bit more of the city I left behind. Independent coffee shops and natural food stores popped up. Inside in the Cornmarket Centre, under TK Maxx and beside Lidl, Peacock & Ruby, a funky clothes shop, thrives.
North Main street may look bleak and dreary with roadworks and closed shops but Mad, Tony’s Bistro, St. Peter’s visitor centre and loads of other great Cork institutions still function and prosper.
After I met K, we got out of the drizzle to protect her new, beautiful haircut by treating ourselves to lunch in Bracken’s. I got the toasted sandwich with bacon, melted cheese and an Americano. It was unbelievable. I would recommend the cafe to anyone but particularly that sandwich. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Afterwards, we hurried down French church street and got mochas in O’Connell’s Hot Chocolate. We also treated ourselves to a brownie and a slice of carrot cake, slightly breaking one of our resolutions for the New Year. That’s for another post.

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Stunning art with important message beside Paul st. car park, Cork City

On the drive back home I noticed the stunning mural with a stark message on the environment on the wall beside Paul Street car park. The vibrant colours of the kingfisher in action trump any dreary Cork day anytime. Not to get too deep or preachy but I had a sort of epiphany. Driving through Blackpool past Murphy’s chipper reminded me of the hidden gems all around the city and its surrounding areas. The city is not the be all or end all. Take a drive out to Blackpool, or even walk 🤣 Go to the cinema, have a look around the shopping centre or get a sloppy foley in Murphy’s some evening. Make the treacherous journey to Wilton and have a late night Tesco shop. Great craic, I promise you. I don’t need to tell you about KC’s in Douglas, surely. In short, town used to be the place to be; hanging out on Paul street; drinking bottles at the 100 steps by the Heineken brewery; hanging out upstairs in Subway. As we got older it was nights out in Gorbys, Cubins, the Roxy, the Brog. You name it, we were there. Maybe as I get older the more I see the grimy side of Cork in the nighttime. Maybe I am becoming more cynical as I grow up. The fact remains, though, that while Cork city may lose some of its charm as we get older, if we don’t look in and around it, we’ll never find the magic again. It is there if we search.

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I’ll do my best to find more quirky, charming and cool spots in and around the city and shine a light on them!

A Guide to Hillwalking and Mountain-climbing for People who don't know what the F**k they're doing!

There used to be a time when I would scoff at the idea of doing anything productive on New Year’s Day. It was a day for the hangover and an evening for the bed. Sure look, you might be cheeky and go for one or five pints in the evening but that’d be it. The 2nd of January was always the day of reconciliation and getting back on the right track. Perhaps, depending on the day that the New Year fell, you might only start thinking about getting your act together on the following Monday.
This year, though, I joined a lot of others and made sure that January 1st was going to be a new start for me and not just the calendar year. Yes, I went out for New Years with my girlfriend, Katie, and we had an absolute blast. We weren’t out too late and were home at a semi-reasonable hour. We had plans for the New Year and we were going to stick to them.

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“A mother from Wicklow and a father from Rio. Neither a hurling stronghold!”

I wrote a little bit already about climbing the Sugarloaf. I’m talking about the one in Wicklow, not the one in Brazil. Neither a hurling stronghold. I think that the world needs something like a guide for people like me when it comes to outdoor hiking (as opposed to indoor hiking) and I’m willing to give it to them. So folks, count yourselves lucky as this is the very first edition of ‘A Guide to Hillwalking and Mountain-climbing for People who don’t know what the F**k they’re doing!” This week I give you my preparation and thoughts and feelings as I traversed the mighty cliff!

Preparations

First of all, I did not for a second think that drinking a fair amount of alcohol the night before was a good preparation for my first proper hike in years and my first of 2020. However, it worked, so here is a provisional list of stuff you need and things you need to do before your first climb.

  • Have a bit of a night out beforehand, as a treat. Nothing too mental, mind. Have a few pre-drinks, a nice meal out and maybe four or five double whiskeys and you should have just enough of a headache the next day for the fresh air to feel good in your battered body and mind.
  • Now, you should have your clothes ready, or at least have an idea of what you’re going to need. Most important are your shoes. I had no idea of the exact terrain we would be facing but I assumed a bit of mud and a few rocks. So, naturally, I went for old runners with half the sole worn off for maximum mediocre grip. Sorted!
  • You’ll also want to misjudge the weather and completely disregards weather apps by wearing at least two layers of coats and jackets, a hat but no gloves and light pants. Your legs and hands will be cold but your body and head will be burning up!

Thoughts Throughout

I journeyed through a thousand human emotions during this relatively short walk. I saw the face of God on top of that summit, and it was glorious. Alternatively, I stared into the sun for too long and almost collapsed. You decide.

  • Beginning: This actually isn’t that bad. It looks like it gets fairly steep at the top but Katie said it’s fine and I trust her. I’ll be fine. Grand.
  • First Slope: Oh God, I taste whiskey and duck empanadas at the back of my throat. Why did I get the last double when we were leaving? I hate myself. It’s so muddy!
  • Final Climb: I tweaked the muscle at the back of my knee there a minute ago. Ah fuck. I don’t want to tell Katie, though. I’ll be fine. The Gods blessed me with a spare knee, right? Oh, I’m light headed.
  • Summit: This is genuinely lovely. First achievement of 2020. This is my year. This is my decade. I am just in the happiest place right now. The climb wasn’t even that bad.
  • Descent: I am going to absolutely brain myself on one of these rocks. What fucking shoes am I wearing??!! OK, just slow down your breathing behind this random lady and her baby, you don’t want them to think you’re some ragged animal hunting them.
  • Bottom: Sweet Hallelujah, sweet level ground how I did miss you!

Afterthoughts

You know, I’ve recently found out that I can be a tad dramatic. Just a small bit. Just a smidge of overreaction. I didn’t voice any of this on the hike and a lot of this is exaggerated. I did have a little moment of, ‘Oh God, this isn’t that bad but I am still incredibly unfit.’ Maybe the excess of drinking, smoking and takeaway isn’t beneficial, even if it feels so good! That’s another topic for another post.
The Sugarloaf is easy. I was short of breath after reaching the top and the final climb over some rocks is a bit tough for my first climb in years but it is worth it for the views and the intrinsic sense of worth upon completion.
This weekend Katie and I are going to tackle the Cardiac steps and lads, I’m a bit nervous. The word ‘CARDIAC’ is in the name. She has assured me that they’re actually not that bad. While I trust her, she warned me that the Sugarloaf was fine and I almost died there….although I am a little overdramatic!

On the Dublin to Cork road in heavy rain – Poem

As soon as I turned onto the Cork road it began to rain.
Not just little droplets
But big, fat ones that spread out across the windshield,
Blurring my vision and causing me to slow down.

God forbid I go below 120 and stay safe on the road!
Especially when His Heavens have opened so magnificently above me.
I have places to go and people to see so I will
Break through Poseidon’s torrents and tear down the road.

Portlaoise, Mountrath and Cashel pass in the blink of an eye,
My old car flying by Audi’s, Corolla’s and other Renault’s indiscriminately.
On one stretch of road I weave in and out, meeting every car from Kilkenny, Tipp and Limerick, overtaking and letting mergers in, pulling in for faster cars,
All the while buffeted by watery bullets.

Towering trucks trundle along the highway,
Dangerous beasts flinging water from under their wheels to blind other drivers.
They use their large husks to rattle smaller vehicles as they dare overtake the mighty monsters,
Sometimes passing each other out at a rate of frayed knots.

Through a last toll and one last push to be at the top of the queue.
I roar along with my radio and my engine before coming to an abrupt stop.
Barely moving.
The open road closed behind me and the rain still pounding.

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Visual representation of me trying to overtake a lorry on the road this morning

New Year, New Me!

Possibly the greatest picture taken of me, ever!

A belated Happy New Year to my followers, friends and family. I spent the night eating tapas with my gorgeous girlfriend and had my best New Years Day ever with her the next day. We slept in before getting an unbelievable sandwich in Avoca that afternoon. We carried on from Dublin to Wicklow and climbed the Sugarloaf! There was literal climbing involved too, up and down jagged rocks and muddy ground. It was unreal and despite it being a relatively small summit I was chuffed. I am going to make it a priority to do more walks and mountain climbs this year.

The changing of the guard on top of the Sugarloaf


We drove into Dundrum in the evening and had a shop around. I got a Leinster Rugby tracksuit pants from Lifestyle and a hoodie from Hollister, just to complete my transition from Cork bai to Dublin ledge-bag! Absolutely sending it!
Herself and myself got food in Mad Egg… Lads. If ye haven’t had it already please go. There’s two in Dublin City as far as I know and one for sure in Dundrum. Their burgers are literally the best chicken burgers I have ever had and anybody who knows me knows I am a breaded chicken connoisseur. This is my official endorsement for that glorious restaurant. Try their Mad Yoke Craft Beer too.
Back to Naas we went and Herself indulged me and accompanied me to Kavanagh’s pub to watch United lose in miserable fashion. You can read my review of that horrible affair here.
Despite the result, it was the best New Year’s Day I have ever had. I got to spend it in good health with someone I deeply care about and love and am comfortable with. We got some exercise in and ate some unreal food. What more could you ask for?

Mad Egg is the best chicken-burger joint around!

I got a bit sidetracked there filling you in on my day! Jaysus, I’m just so interesting! Amn’t I a man about town, ha?! The real reason I am writing this post is to inform you that the blog has a new layout, feel and design to it this year. I rolled out the changes quietly over the last few weeks ahead of increased output, writing and production. Those of you who are following and enjoy my work, get ready for more rambles, reviews and regular content. Those of you who follow out of a sense of obligation on Facebook, Twitter or WordPress, get ready for the exact same.
There is no real set schedule to my work. If United are playing a match I will release a report and review the next day. If I watch a movie or t.v. show and deem it review-worthy I will write one. I have stuff planned for Barry’s Rants, poems and general pieces and will try to make them all more consistent. This is for myself more than anyone else and consistency is key, isn’t it?

Cian the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, Rio de Janeiro, 2020

If anyone has any suggestions or thoughts on the blog, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below or via DM. I appreciate constructive feedback and love compliments 😀

The Movies of the Decade

Going to the cinema is one of my favourite things to do. I love the popcorn, the Coke, the bags of sweets but most importantly, I love seeing a new film. I love experiencing the emotions that go with a film and figuring out whether it’s good or bad. I love realizing what’s about to happen and I love being kept in the dark for as long as possible. In this listicle of movies of the decade I’m not interested in box office hits or popular blockbusters. I humbly offer you my favourite movies of the 2010s, in no particular order.

A Star is Born (2018)

This movie rocked me. I went to see it on my own in a movie theatre in Chelsea, Manhattan and had to leave swiftly after it finished so the other customers wouldn’t see me as a blubbery mess. I watched it again on St. Stephens Day 2018 with my buddy Ultan and we both made half serious jokes about crying all the way through. One of my favourite movies of all time but don’t watch it hungover with the lads. You might just cry together!

Inception (2010)

This movie, along with the next one on this list, was one of the first I’ve seen that left me completely baffled. I left the screen thinking I had it sussed and after my friend’s mam dropped us home I couldn’t make sense of the layers and levels anymore. Seriously, though, what a film and just awesome storytelling. Was the top beginning to stop spinning though?🤔

Shutter Island (2010)

Leonardo Di Caprio reared his beautiful head twice at the start of the decade to invade my dreams and make me doubt everything I ever knew. I’m referencing the plot of Shutter Island, folks, not my battle with my feelings for Leo….. ANYWAYS, his turn as befuddled federal Marshall Teddy Daniels alongside Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley and Michelle Williams is in my top 5 movies of all time, never mind my films of the decade. Check out the book too.

Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Well, well, well. Lovely Leo strikes again. The raunchiest, funniest and downright outrageous collaboration between Di Caprio and Scorsese should have won Leo an Oscar. Who can forgot Margot Robbie’s ‘eye’-opening performance?

About Time (2013)

As you can see I’m not really describing these movies in any great detail. You’ve more than likely seen them. They’re all very mainstream and we’re all very popular in their respective years. Maybe you haven’t seen this rom-com. Maybe you haven’t even heard of it. But I guarantee that you will love it and be enchanted by this great film. For that reason I won’t give anything away. All I will say is that it will make you fall in love with Domhnall Gleeson and Rachael McAdams. Also, you will cry.

Split (2016)

James McAvoy cemented his place as Charles Xavier in the X-men movies of this decade but his most memorable performance(s) came as Dennis, Patricia and Hedwig in M. Night Shyamalan’s unexpected sequel to Unbreakable. McAvoy astounds as the broken man with 23 different personalities.

Eighth Grade (2018)

Bo Burnham’s directorial debut won plaudits and praise all around the world. Elsie Fisher is mesmerizing as the awkward, shy and cringey teenager who navigates boys, her Dad,mean girls at school and her own crippling self-doubt in this fine, fine movie. Gucci 👌

Django Unchained (2012)

Quentin Tarantino’s seventh offering was a chaotic mix of over the top Western, laugh out loud comedy and absolute gore fest. Leonardo Di Caprio was awfully brilliant as the vile plantation owner Calvin Candie while Jamie Foxx was absolutely superb as the gun-slinging, slave-freeing hero of the piece, Django Freeman. Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz were unreal in supporting roles.

Hateful Eight (2016)

Straight into another Tarantino flick, this one set in a harsh winter as our heroes and anti heroes are holed up in a haberdashery, is dialogue heavy and has problems with pacing. It is by no means Tarantino’s best film but I loved the dynamics between the characters and the relationship between Walton Goggins and Sam Jackson.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Frances McDormand is impeccable in this twisted story about loss, tragedy and finding hope in resilience. Her supporting cast isn’t bad either. Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell serve in her local law enforcement and their relationship with McDormand is rocky at best. If you haven’t seen this one, do so immediately. It is a classic Martin McDonagh screenplay, full of twists and turns and has you shouting for all the different characters, no matter their intentions.

Seven Psycopaths (2012)

This is possibly my favourite on the list. Sam Rockwell absolutely steals the show as Billy, the bipolar/Hoyman/serial killer who gets Colin Farrell and Christopher Walken into a whole pile of deadly trouble. This made Rockwell one of my favourite actors. He is so wonderfully weird and this second McDonagh offering on my list shows the pair work well together. There’s always a shootout!

La La Land (2016)

Jaysus, lads, 2016 was a great year for movies! This musical absolutely ripped my world apart and made me fall in love with Emma Stone about fifteen times. Stone and Ryan Gosling are the perfect onscreen couple. Their trajectory and falling apart was hard to watch because I, along with most other audience members, was willing them to stay together. Alas, it was a masterpiece. The singing, the acting, the story and the fantastical set-pieces made this an enchanting, if emotionally draining movie.

Green Book (2018)

It’s hard to say that this was a hidden gem as it won three oscars but finding it on our dodgy box in the Bronx with new movies and having not heard much about it, I was delighted that I got to see it. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali had such a great back and forth throughout this film. It was so easy to immerse myself in the world they were trying to portray. I lived Dr. Shirley’s oppression with him and suffered Tony’s ignorance in dealing with him. It was a fantastic movie and one everyone should watch.

Spotlight (2015)

A harrowing tale about the Catholic Church scandal in Boston in the 90s. This true story was brought to life by Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachael McAdams and Liev Schreiber. True stories need to be told and this tragic tale is a film that should be watched.

The Secret in Their Eyes (2010)

I watched this at midnight one summer night years ago. Nothing else was on television and as I flicked through the channels it was the title that caught my eye. An Argentinian film that tells the tale of revenge and when does revenge become too much. It was remade in 2015 with Chiewetel Ejiofor and Julia Roberts but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original. One of the highest rated films on IMDB.

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Turning up to the cinema in full Manchester United gear, singing ‘Glory, Glory’ as I ran up the aisle looked pretty foolish about two seconds into the movie. Seriously, though, a slow burner that tackles raw human emotion. My type of film.

Leap Year (2010)

My brothers and I watch this movie every time it’s on television. Amy Adams is the heroine of this crazy rom-com that features the worst Irish accent ever produced by Matthew Goode. Pure enjoyment and Irish divilment for an hour and a half!

That concludes my list of my favourite films of the decade. Let me know yours in the comments below 👇 Let me know if you agree or disagree with my picks 🤔🎥🎥

Premier League Team of the Decade

It has been an interesting decade in the Premier League. United’s power was waning from the beginning only to crumble so emphatically and powerfully over the last five years. City seemed to be the ones to take their place at the helm of English football, but they never looked consistently convincing. Chelsea and city traded titles for a few years before Chelsea almost followed suit directly behind United in plummeting down the table. Arsenal and Tottenham both came so close in 2016 only to solidify their reputation as perennial underachievers as Leicester surprised the world and were crowned champions. Liverpool have been looming dangerously close to securing their first league title in almost three decades. As United’s star dimmed, Liverpool’s shone brighter. Coming close with Brendan Rogers in 2014, they finished second once again last year in a title race dominated by themselves and City. This year they seem to have already wrapped things up. It is hard to see anyone catching up with them. City are suffering from their third year slump. Leicester are the closest of the two but their unimpressive loss to City the other night and their hammering by the leaders shows that it is Liverpool’s to lose.

Everybody has their own opinions on who should be in the team of the decade. Lists are compiled and torn apart in pubs and sitting rooms all around the globe. Here’s mine for you to rip to pieces. I’ll try not to let my love of Manchester United shape my opinions too much.

Goalkeeper – David de Gea

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Big Dave

Recent calamitous blunder and his slow decline over the last year after carrying a failing Manchester United side on his magnificent Spanish shoulders for almost the whole decade aside, de Gea has to be the top keeper of the decade. Not only is he an aesthetically pleasing keeper in that he is acrobatic and kept so many games alive using his feet, but he definitely kept United in the top half of the table in the years prior to his complacency.
For the whole of the decade he has had to contend with constantly changing defensive partnerships in front of him due to injury and lack of consistency. He is, for me, the Premier League keeper of the decade.

Right Back – Cesar Azpilicueta

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Azpilicueta

This is a bit of an odd one. I suppose it just my team of the decade but it is odd considering he has never really grabbed headlines or been in any of the PFA teams of the year. However, he is as solid as they come and has been in the Chelsea side every year since he joined in 2012. He is captain now since the departure of Cahill which shows his development over the years. He won the title twice with Chelsea and has survived three different managers. He is one of my favourite players from rival teams but I hate seeing him play against United. Proper footballer.

Centre Back – Vincent Kompany (c)

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The Belgian Wall

What a fucking animal. If I was one on one with Vincent Kompany I’d probably just pass him the ball and step to the side. “Work away, Vinny kid!” An absolute beast of a defender but his absolute banger last year can never be forgotten.

Centre-Back – Jan Vertonghen

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Eriksen’s Nemesis

I actually struggled to think of a partner for Kompany. Ferdinand and Vidic had a great start to the decade but the decline of United was fasttracked by the demise of their partnership under Moyes. John Terry had a good run of it but Vertonghen pips him to the post for me. He’s solid, strong and can tackle. He is let down by dodgy goalkeeping behind him but he is a big part of the reason that Tottenham were so strong for so long.

Left Back – Leighton Baines

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Baines

The third member of Oasis has to be a cult hero of a left back. I’ll never forget his free kick for against Newcastle. He may be winding down towards the end of his career but that free kick, and his many important displays for Everton over the years have ensured he will be remembered as one of the greats.

Right Mid – David Silva

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Silva

Every generation of football fans has that one player that just seems to have it all. They obviously have the talent but the almost photographic memory of knowing where exactly to put the ball at your teammate’s feet while still knowing exactly what is going on around you is unmatchable. David Silva possesses this talent, and along with his penchant for scoring goals and making fools of defenders, he could be the best player that the league has ever seen. He spent all of his prime years here and is fininshing up at the end of this season. It seems fitting that he be on the team.

Centre-Mid – Kevin De Bruyne

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Poor man’s Paul Scholes

What an absolute talent. It sickens me to put this many City players in my team of the decade but by God is De Bruyne the best of the bunch. He is still only 28, but his talent was obvious from his time at Chelsea. Perhaps he needed time to grow, or a manager to show faith in him at the time. He is tenacious and technically gifted beyond belief. He also has an anger in him when his team isn’t playing well that allows him to access another level above any opponent, leaving them trailing in his wake. He is the assist king and scores peaches for fun. Magnificent bastard.

Left-Mid – Eden Hazard

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Hazard

Probably the most unpredictable player in this team. Hazard could go several games without doing anything of note and then burst onto the scene of a game and run the opposition ragged for ninety minutes. He terrorised Liverpool for the duration of the decade and it seemed as though the ball was glued to his feet. I remember reading something that a teammate of his said that he would be pure crap in training all week and then go and dominate the game on Saturday. He deserves a chance in Madrid and his place on this team.

Centre Forward – Sergio Aguero

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Agueeerrroooooooo

I don’t think I’ll ever recover from the Argentinean’s last minute strike to win City their first Premier league title in 2012. Following on a live score app because we didn’t have Sky Sports at the time, I had to wait until Match of the Day that night to hear Martin Tyler’s infamous ‘Aguerrroooooooo’. I hated him so much for years for his constant scoring against United but despite my obvious bias, he has to be the best striker in the Premier League over the last decade. I’m all about consistency and longevity. If I was making a ‘Best of all-time Premier League’ he might have more competition for his place, but he sits at the top of this list.

Striker – Jamie Vardy

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Vardy

Jamie Vardy has been having a party in the Premier League for the last five years and it ain’t stopping any time soon. He has been in the top scorers list for the last four years in a row and with 17 already this season he is bound to beat his best haul of 24 by a country mile. It’s not just that he scores goals, though. He absolutely loves scoring them and celebrating them in front of opposition fans. This year he danced like an eagle in front of Crystal Palace fans. Crystal Palace are nicknamed the Eagles. He is the king of shithousery. All other pretenders to the throne, like Ander Herrera and Andy Robertson can only hold flickering candles to his name. Chat shit. Get banged. It’s……….Jamie Vardy.

Centre Forward – Harry Kane

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Kane

This was my last position to pick and it actually was tough. Kane was the obvious choice but there have been so many exceptional strikers over the last couple of years that I had to think about it. Mane and Salah both could have taken this spot but because I hate Liverpool they can fuck right off. I’d love to put Rooney in here but his peak dipped around 2013 while Kane’s star was just rising. The future top scorer for England is just too good to leave out. Yes, he steals goals from teammates and yes he sometimes looks like he has killed before but Goddamit if he isn’t an exeptional footballer.

Cian Dalton’s PL Team of the Decade

Alternatives and Unfortunates

Of course a team of the decade is going to be surrounded by some debate. If you’re like me you’ve probably just swiped through and looked at all of the pictures. There are a few positions that could be changed around. Also, that midfield is technically superb and full of talented players on the ball but could be ovverun by a side with a bruiser in the middle. Perhaps N’Golo Kante should go in instead of Hazard or Silva, or possibly Yaya Toure could slot in to a 4-4-2 to shore up the midfield and Harry Kane would miss out.

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Lloris

Hugo Lloris would probably be my second keeper of choice but he just makes too many small mistakes over the course of a season for him to beat De Gea to the top spot.

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Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez would probably feel hard done by if he saw this blog post and knew who I was. He is Algeria’s and Africa’s greatest export but his slump when he first joined City was unfortunate. Thankfully he is back on top form again. Well, thankfully in the sense that he’s a great player and deserves the good fortune. Not thankfully, though, because I despise City and all they stand for.

Please let me know what you think of my team of the decade. It was tough to pick but a joy to write about football for the first time in a long time. Keep an eye out for more Rambles in the New Year and different teams of the week from different leagues around the world as I up my output of sports content. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Barry's Rants – Christmas

Gerelateerde afbeelding

You meet a whole array of characters over Christmas, and none more annoying and amusing as your resident crank, Barry. He filled me in on his typical Christmas at home by the Lee.

Me: Well, Barry, what’s the craic? How was your Christmas?

Barry: Alrite kid! How are you bai? Haven’t seen you in a while? Were you laying low before Christmas? Trying to stay away from town in case you had to buy anyone a pint, I’d say! Some mooch, lad, that’s all you are! Plenty of nights out I could’ve done with someone to buy me a drink. They weren’t serving me anymore. Said I was, “More drink than man” or some dramatic aul shite.
Other than that it was the normal stuff. Drink too much Christmas eve. Get up at about 4 o’clock and plonk myself down at the Christmas table, reeking of fags and booze. Listen to the mother give out that I ruined Christmas. Sure it was only the feckin’ front door that I kicked in. Not my fault that I forgot my keys. Although she is 90 so I should be more respectful and kick in the back door next time. ‘Tis the demon drink that did it to me.

Me: Would you ever give up the drink?

Barry: What the fuck did you just say to me?

Me: ……

Barry: Thought so. Anyways, Stephen’s Day then I’d go down to the long puc and lose about three or four sliotars into the ditch. Some bollox of a feckin’ route they’re after taking the last few years. Down from O’Neills and along the windy road to the Squire. And all the feckin’ cars driving up and down the road as if it wasn’t a sacred day in Rathpeacon G.A.A. I tried to lobby for a tannoy system to be put in place between Rathpeacon and Whitechurch. Local news, announcements and that sort of thing. At least then I could warn the feckin’ rally drivers to stay at home for an extra hour and that their relatives would be safe as long as they stayed indoors away from the stray sliotars. Anyways, the community group shot me down. Miserable pricks.

Me: That’s be a bit much, surely. Would you expect people to enjoy being woken up or scared shitless by random announcements? Were the tannoys just for the long puc or for everyday use?

Barry: Everyday use, lad! Morning announcements and all that. “Pauric Joyce shat himself in the pub last night. Avoid the second stool by the window.” I could set up an aul watch tower over by the pitch then and keep on eye on the surrounding area at night, too. I’d have it hooked up to the pub then. “Lads, the shades are en route. Close the blinds and turn off that feckin’ jukebox.” It’d be fierce handy for G.A.A. matches. “The Whitechurch team bus has just left and will be here in 15. Lock your doors and make sure valuables are out of sight!”

Me: Fuck it, that’d actually be handy. And they shot you down? Can’t believe it.

Barry: I know, yeah. Sure look, can’t win em all.

Me: Any other plans before the New Year?

Barry: Same old, kid, same old. Drink, drink, drink. See some relatives. Talk some shite. Yourself?

Me: Same here. Might write some shite too.

Barry: Do kid. Practice makes perfect.

6 Types of People you Meet in the Pub Over Christmas

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Look, we’ve all been there. You’re in the local pub over Christmas, trying to enjoy your few too many pints before heading back into the real world. All of a sudden, one of the following walking caricatures makes a beeline for you, stands between you and the bar and sobers you right up. Let’s have a look at some of these bastards.

The (Not-so) Private Investigator

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“Well, how are you going? What are you at now? Are you still in the same place? What are you doing there now? And where is that then? Are you still at home? How’s everyone there? Did you do the long poc? Are you playing this year? What’s the brother up to anyways? Are ye Sean and Eileen’s kids? Where are they tonight? And where were you the night Old Man Reilly was murdered down by the creek? And do you have much time off over Christmas? Who’s that fella over there? Haven’t sees him here in ages. I’ll be back in a while there.”
Yeah, fuck off and stay over there man, I haven’t answered this many consecutive questions I didn’t want to answer since my fucking French oral!

That Prick/Bitch from school

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Possibly the worst of the bunch. They swan over, all handshakes and hugs, smiles and kisses on the cheek and expect you to forget that they’re a piece of shit who you never liked.
“I assume you’re still living at home, yeah? I moved out last year, yeah, you should definitely do it. So much more freedom. Oh, you lived abroad for two years. Yeah, so you kind of get it so, yeah. We should definitely meet up though, haven’t seen you since school! Snapchat me!”
Yeah, I will in me fuckin’ hole snapchat you you dickhead.

Armchair Pundit

“Yis are all shapers, and spoofers, and cods…”

There’s possibly nothing worse than being in the local pub and the failings of the previous season of Junior B are being dissected for the whole night. Most people get it. We’re here for pints and craic, not here to be told how shit we were and most definitely will be next year. The only thing that auld prick who talks about the glory days of Juior A in the ’70s is succeeding in doing is making you more defiant in your own talent and proud of your club. Before you know it, you’re definitely playing again next year and that bastard is smiling in the corner. Maybe that was his plan all along.

Shitfaced

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“It was Christmas Eve, babe….”

It’s half six on Stephen’s Day. Everyone’s quietly drunk and loudly resenting the winners of the long poc. Kids are running around and elderly couples sit by the fire, smiling at the generations mingling before them. As the evening grows darker and the families filter out, one man is on a different level. Moving seamlessly between groups he manages to amuse and annoy in equal measure. Singing songs at an abominable level out of key and making bad and dirty jokes, he weaves through the crowds, leading people to unanimously ask the question…”What fucking time did that eejit get here?”
If anybody’s reading this and they thought they had a great time flitting between groups and getting laughs from each of them, the reality is probably that that was you. And we were laughing at you, not with you.

The Coked up Guy That Nobody Knows

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Alright boys have I shown ye the picture of my kids for the third time?

Scratch that. There is one person who’s laughing along with the drunkest guy in the room, and that’s the coked up guy that nobody knows. His stories are louder, his jokes are worse and he WON’T. FUCKING. LEAVE YOU ALONE. This motherfucker just will not take a hint and leave. He will pull stories out of his fecking arse to tell you. You know everything about him now. He has cursed you with the knowledge of his existence. He is the real scrooge.

The Life Coach

Yeah, that’d be great.

There’s a special place in hell for people that come into the pub and tell you what you should be doing with your life. I’m sorry, but have you seen where we are? We’re in the local on a Tuesday feckin night. I should be telling you what to do with your life. Let me start. Put down the fuckin gin and tonics and get a pint into your hand, good lad.

Sure look, I could go on and include the people returning from abroad in this list but I think five is a nice number to end on. I also am one of those people and I refuse to make fun of myself on Christmas. I know this has been done before but I feel mine is a bit more authentic than the same shite peddled year after year by different comedian pages on social media. You will for certain meet at least three of these people out over the next week or so. Be prepared, or be one of these people. Who knows which is worse?

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Good morning to my American friends. Good afternoon to my Irish friends. Good evening to friends in different timezones but I have the same message for you all! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Miss you all.

This time of year can be tough for some. Lost relatives linger in our minds while not every home is a happy one. I am at the end of this page, my Facebook and Twitter pages if anyone needs to talk about anything. I’ve had a good year and am having a good Christmas but I’ve had some lonely ones and I just want you to know I’m here.

I hope your bellies are full of food and your heart is full of love. I hope your bellies will be full of beer later. Thanks for reading this year and here’s to the next week, the final week of the year. It’s always a weird kind of limbo in reality where some people are working, some people aren’t and everyone’s a little drunk.

Finally, I leave you with a word from one of entertainment’s finest, Krusty the Clown.