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Ballybay United was a decent football team.
They weren’t the best in Monaghan, but they could always dream.
On Sunday mornings, many townsfolk came to watch them play,
And few begrudged the thruppence that United made them pay.
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The chairman of said Ballybay was Iggy McIlvenny.
Each week he took the gate receipts and counted every penny,
And, judging by attendances, he thought suspiciously
That many of the townsfolk had been bunking in for free.
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And so the bold Ignatius, he did hire a local lad,
A cheery freckled youth who had a football-playing dad.
This fellow was instructed that when half time came around,
He was to count the number of spectators in the ground.
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And thus around the football pitch, young Mickey Duff would go,
Counting every person who had come to watch the show.
And later, when the count came in, Iggy’d calculate
If the tally thus arrived at corresponded to the gate.
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Now once there was a Cup match versus rivals Carrickmacross,
Quite a useful side, though with a quick-to-anger boss.
And when the half time whistle blew, his team was three goals down,
So he gathered them about him, and he really went to town.
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A shower of useless wasters! Not fit to play the sport!
A game of skill and passion, yes! Or so he’d always thought!
And on and on he blustered, cursing every second word,
When suddenly, throughout the din, a shrill voice could be heard.
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“Fifty seven. Fifty eight…” Young Mickey Duff came round,
Enumerating every damned spectator in the ground.
“Fifty nine and sixty…” His high-pitched monotone
Drilled into one’s psyche like a constant dialling tone.
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“Sixty seven. Sixty eight…” The wound-up, pent-up boss
Simply couldn’t concentrate on geeing up the ‘Cross.
And in a fit of temper, he told his players that day
To grab the little urchin and to take him far away.
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Petrified, the players quickly sought out Mickey Duff
And into his large freckly mouth, a football sock did stuff.
And then they laid him on the ground and tied him to a stake,
And bore him cross the fields ‘ere they dumped him in a lake.
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Now when Ignatius heard of this, he impotently roared,
And reported the opposition to the local County Board.
A hearing date was set; it was for several evenings hence,
Giving time for ‘Cross to mount a credible defence.
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However, when the evening came, the ‘Cross did not turn up,
Obviously smarting ‘bout their exit from the Cup.
Instead they sent a one-line note, with quite disarming pride,
“Everybody knows that we’re a counter-attacking side.”