I don’t know about you, but I was exhausted after The Battle on Saturday. It started very early for myself and Dick and Aidan and Therese as we scouted the high ground around Clontarf to see if we could find a vantage point from which to view The Battle. We failed abysmally, I can tell you, as all the high ground has been built upon since 1014, so we returned to the comfort of our homes to watch The Battle from our laptops. (Brian Boru might not have been stabbed in his tent, if he had stayed in Munster with his laptop and the world might now be a different place!).
First to take the field at 14.00 were the heavy guns from our Team of Four competition. Aidan and Therese ensured that there was an orderly start by checking that all the big guns were correctly lined up and moving in the right direction. We had hoped to keep you abreast of their progress throughout the day, but there was so much smoke and carnage, it was difficult to get a clear picture. At round 4, it looked like Clan Clontarf and Clan Foxnevin were an equal match for each other. But once round 5 started it did appear that the Foxnevin canons were beginning to pulverise their Clontarf counterparts. Once the dust settled after round 6 it was clear that Clontarf had been well and truly pulverised with only two of their teams taking points as against four from Foxnevin headed by the Gallowglasses from Monaghan (Laura O’Mahony, P.J. Harte, Maeve McCluskey and Patricia McCormack), who I am sure had never fired a canon before this unless it was from a pulpit. (And before anybody says that gallowglasses could not be firing canons as there was no gunpowder back in their time, please allow me some poetic licence!!). This left Foxnevin with a massive 7 points lead. We had to restrain Dick as he jumped from his seat and donned his horny hat and sheepskin rug (He was up even earlier than the rest of us to kill one of his sheep for the occasion) and ran laps around his laptop shouting MFGA! MFGA! MFGA! When he eventually sat down again, he explained in a Trumpian voice that MFGA meant “Make Foxnevin Great Again”.
Next into the fray were our sabre-rattling light cavalry (aka Novice/B) pairs. Clan Clontarf had an immediate problem when two of their pairs deserted for fear of the Foxnevin canons. Dan tried in vain to delay the start to see if he could get the full Clontarf contingent onto the field, but Dick was having none of it as he was smelling victory at this stage. So only 10 Clontarf pairs took to the field, with 12 pairs from Foxnevin. Dick kept an eye on the light cavalry throughout, but that smoke from the canons was still getting in our eyes so we really didn’t know the outcome until the very end. And oh how well those brave light cavalry from Clontarf performed as they ended up with three pairs in the points with the Vernon pair of Marian Carroll and Brid Cater taking the honours. Now Foxnevin also had three pairs in the points, but in lower positions and as a result Foxnevin’s lead was reduced to 4 points. There were no laps from Dick this time and Dan dared to dream.
The heavy cavalry (aka Master/A’s) was quick on the heels of the light cavalry brandishing their heavy swords in hot pursuit. Again, Clontarf suffered another desertion. Dan was very happy to have heavily armoured robots representing the Clan, but Dick smelling a rat, offered up two of his infantries from Baldoyle – Rodney O’Hara and Raymond McCarthy who turned their coats and put on the heavy armour of Clontarf. Dan was a bit slow getting them up and running so their 1st board ended as an average, but after that they charged into every other pair and every other pair charged into every other pair over 25 single rounds. The fact that anybody was left alive after all this charging was somewhat of a miracle! It also meant we did not know the result until just after the Infantry cleared the field, but more of that later.
Again, we had desertions from amongst the infantry as well. This may be because I referred to them as canon fodder, who knows. Although Clontarf did have one late volunteer in Jimmy Given. Now everybody knows that Jimmy’s BBO name is “twenty 25”. This is what I told our supreme leader Aidan, who very obligingly added Jimmy to the Infantry include list. Now I am not sure what was going on. I have my suspicions that Dick may been trying to sabotage Clontarf’s late bid to enlist this very strong soldier, because Aidan added “20 25” to the Include list. Jimmy’s attempts to sign up for the infantry were dashed on at least 3 occasions until the wise woman Therese correctly interpreted my Cork accent and realised that I was saying “twenty 25” and not “20 25”. So eventually 16 brave infantry men marched out between the canon balls and the cavalry to stake their claim to history. Clontarf were again underrepresented and Dick very sportingly moved two of his pawns (The Iona pair of Johnathan Caper and Breda Murphy) to Clontarf. Now if you thought the heavy cavalry was confusing with every pair playing every other pair no matter what clan they were in, the infantry were totally confused marching up and down and backwards and forwards and sometimes even on a diagonal as each individual got to play with each other and against each other over twelve two board rounds. The infantry just managed to leave the field before the last card was played by the heavy cavalry, so their result was the next one in. It looked like Clan Clontarf were facing a complete rout with only two individuals scoring points (one of them being the bold Jimmy who took 2nd place and 5 points) as against four from Foxnevin with Joe Reid winning by a country mile with a score of 69%. This left Foxnevin with 36 Points and Clontarf with 27 points – a 9 point differential. Foxnevin only needed their heavy cavalry to score 7 points and the Aidan Synnott Virtual Trophy would be theirs. Dick is now getting up from his laptop and shouting FAG! FAG! We thought that the excitement had got too much for him and that he needed a cigarette to calm his nerves. But no, he was really saying “Foxnevin Are Great”.
Then there was a shout from Dan as he stood there brandishing his sword, tears streaming down his face and his wolf pack baying at his feet. Come on you heavy cavalry, come on you heavy cavalry and so they did with the heavy cavalry of Clontarf led by St Gabriel’s Anne Phelan and Chris Conroy snatching a draw out of the jaws of defeat by taking 15 points to Foxnevin’s 6 points.
Foxnevin 42 – Clontarf 42 – Dick can’t believe it. Dan can’t believe it. John Treanor and Michael O’Keeffe have taken off their armour and joined us from the battlefield and they can’t believe it. Aidan and Therese are now wearing both ends of a chicken on their heads (not sure why). They can’t believe it. Aidan is trying to figure out how to split the virtual trophy and is explaining that he can come up with a new scoring process so that there is only one winner, and his virtual trophy can go to one good home. At this stage Dan and Dick have their arms wrapped around each other, hugging and kissing (virtually I might add) and in unison they shout. “Honours even, we live to fight another day. Let’s do it all again next year. CFAG - Clontarf and Foxnevin Are Great”.
There are a lot of people we have to thank for this brilliant occasion.
Firstly, this was the brainchild of the Foxbay triumvirate of Michael O’Keeffe, John Treanor and Dick Kiernan. Michael and John got us all together and sold the idea to us. Dick managed all the entries including desertions and new recruits even up to the very start of the battle.
Secondly this would not have been possible without Aidan Synnott and his encyclopaedic knowledge of BBO and Bridge movements. On the day he was very ably assisted by Therese Gumbrielle.
Thirdly thank you to all the coordinators in each of the clubs who got such a great turnout of troops for the Battle
And last but not least, thank you all for taking part and for all your generous donations to the Hospice. It looks like we will raise at least €8,000.
The link is still open for anybody who would like to make a donation iDonate.ie | Support Clan Clontarf vs Clan Foxnevin