Cormac MacConnell: Mind the bounce when Brady’s about

Another thrilling GAA championship season is due to explode on the sporting scene in a matter of hours and it pains me deeply to have to reveal today, after all these Croke Park years, the full, unvarnished story behind Kerry’s incredible success rate in so many Septembers.

I dislike having to demolish myths and fairy tales but, dammit, I have a job to do here every week, and that is to relate the pure truth.

I would never have released the story I’m about to free now were it not for an explosive sporting scandal in another code entirely, in America.

Over there, as many of you are aware by now, the New England Patriots recently won the Super Bowl of American football, but that victory has now been tainted by what the Americans are calling Deflategate.

The Patriots, it seems now clear, won their way into the Super Bowl final by tampering with the balls used on a wet cold day in their semi-final against the Colts.

They have been fined a million dollars, and their vaunted quarterback, Tom Brady, has been suspended without pay for the next four or five games.

The strong allegation is that he was generally aware that the balls supplied to him had been significantly deflated by lads in the background, and this enabled him to get a better grip on them on a wet pitch, and throw the accurate passes that won the game. But his surname, rather than his fame, is the trigger for this yarn.

Many of ye know from your lives and experiences that the cutest hoors in the whole world are often named Brady.

Their heartland is in Cavan, but they have spread all over the globe, and work their cute wiles wherever they go.

You have to come back with me to New York away back in 1947 to discover the direct linkage between Deflategate and the truly mysteriously achieved Kerry record in Croke Park ever since. It was in 1947, you see, that the All Ireland final was played in the Polo Grounds there, between Cavan and Kerry.

It is generally agreed that the Kerry team was the superior side that year, but history records that they lost the game. I can inform ye that the final score was 2-11 to 2-7, that is in the history books since. What has never been reported, until here and now, was the role that a Cavan man called Brady played in the historic upset.

I will be brief, and simply say that this Brady was a barman in the Empire Hotel where the Cavan team were based, and was a football fanatic. He also had a day job as part of the staff at the Polo Grounds. He was a trusted groundsman there.

And it so happened, when he heard the Cavan players worrying about the power of the men from the Kingdom that they were about to face, that he indicated that the Polo Grounds pitch was hard as nails, even on a wet day, and a highly inflated football, that would be very lively on the ground, could be of help to a team who knew about that in advance. It was Deflategate in reverse, if you like, and the Brady kept his word, and the rest is sporting history.

That would have been that, except that another of the bar men in the Empire Hotel at the mighty victory party afterwards was from Tralee. He kept his mouth closed and his ears open at the Cavan party, when their tongues were loosened, and they were all buying brandies for Brady as a token of thanks.

His first cousin was amongst the Kerry County Board officials who had travelled over for the occasion, and the Tralee barman briefed him fully the next morning.

I could name both of them, but I won’t, because that clan is still heavily involved in Kerry football affairs.

Kerrymen might not be quite as cute as Bradys, but there are no flies on them either. My research has uncovered that men and women you could call “moles” of a Kerry persuasion, even if they had Dublin accents, were implanted amongst the Croke Park staff inside 12 months and, significantly, were always deployed on the big match days in the areas where the footballs were being readied and, of course, inflated.

It would appear, certainly in the pigskin past, that the mighty men from the Kingdom, in a real way, amassed many of their titles by having control of the ball long in advance of the throw-in.

And there ye have the pure truth yet again.

Finally, as this new championship tourney gets under way, I wonder who is in charge of inflating (or deflating) the big game balls nowadays. Just a thought.


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