February 14, 1997.
A Story With a Sting
I am deeply indebted to Bob Gallagher, a surviving member of the "cycling
championship" team, for providing a full list of the names of the players,
several of which were missing when the photograph was first published in October
of last year. Bob was recently interviewed by Billy Finn, a gentleman interested
in Donegal football history, and the names communicated to "A Home Page with an
Irish Flavour ©" by Soinbhe Lally of Ballyshannon.
In addition, Bob gave some hilarious details of that famous day of long ago.
It has taken 55 years to tell the whole story, but the wait has been well
According to Bob, the year was 1942, the venue was Glenties, and the final
score was Ballyshannon 0-11, Gweedore 0-2.
Then Mr. Finn continues:
"Bob tells us that "Dodger" McDermott bought a bottle of Sloans liniment to
get the players to rub into their sore muscles. However, he forgot to tell them
to wash their hands thoroughly immediately after use. Many of the team had to
answer the call of nature, and soon discovered that an important part of their
anatomy was stinging like mad! Many a curse was directed at the inventor of
Sloans liniment and, indeed, at the rather chastened "Dodger" who provided same.
Happily, a quick wash cured all, and the population of Ballyshannon was
unaffected by the Sloans liniment affliction!
On the way back from the game, the only drink available was whiskey and
Portuguese brandy, which tasted like p..., according to Bob. Stout,
incidentally, was rationed during the war.
As a result of the tippling, the provider of the Sloans liniment fell off his
bike and badly scraped his face....Natural justice?"
Now I know why some of the team were delayed for a few days before cycling
back to Ballyshannon. Thus linimented and lubricated, they must have suffered
twin agonies. 'Tis no wonder that, in later years during "the Emergency", not a
one complained when the Sheerin brothers, "Big Jim" and John Joe, managed to get
a petrol allowance, and were able to cram fifteen players, three subs, and two
reporters into two taxis, when travelling to play away matches. And, when they
did, this erstwhile reporter never heard any of them ask for Sloans liniment,
not even once.
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