“Look over there,” said one of the many excitable types at the Regional Sports Centre last Wednesday. “Davy Fitz is getting ambushed by a couple of muppets.”
No, there weren’t some parochially blinkered ‘Sunday Game’ pundits in Kilbarry for the official opening of the new East Stand: there were actually two oversized cartoonish-looking characters looming behind Waterford’s new hurling manager.
Speaking to MC Catherine Power about his team’s dead-cert qualifier against Antrim at the time, Fitzgerald gave a wide-eyed look over his shoulder as the “look behind you” cries began.
“One of them might do a job as a full-forward for ya, Davy,” one of the many onlookers at the RSC wryly observed.
Trying to dampen out such admittedly funny comments while simultaneously recording the views of sporting luminaries at the frantically busy sports venue was easier said than done.
You see, as is befitting of a profession known to employ the ego-driven and slightly eccentric, the trade itself is full of quirks and oddities.
The rapidly approaching weeks are described as ‘silly season,’ with the schools closed, political chambers and court rooms locked shut and those builders still clocking in about to enjoy a fortnight minus the hard hat.
As the nation draws to a halt, column inch filling remains a constant, although some journalists end up in unfamiliar surrounds during the long, wet days of summer.
But every now and then, a day in the journalistic life like Wednesday last comes along and leaves one wondering where you’ll get the time to file all your copy.
“Look over there,” said another excited person, possibly known to don a hipflask-packed sheepskin coat in the depths of winter. “There’s Declan Kidney with the Heineken Cup.”
And there he was, the new Irish rugby coach, complete with glittering prize, posing for photos with the great and good of Waterford sporting society, before meeting the local press.
While a local radio station interviewed Kidney nearby, this columnist, sporting a Munster Express/Caulfield’s SuperValu Fun Run tee-shirt, clicked his dictaphone into ‘record’ mode.
An IRFU official, who looked like he was wondering who in the name of all that is holy the perspiring guy in the tee-shirt was, eyeballed me.
Fearing a Brian O’Driscoll-like body slam, I whispered the name of my employer to him while pointing to the logo on my chest.
Thankfully, code red was stood down to code yellow given the changing expression offered by the besuited Lansdowne Roader as I added Kidney copy to my Fitzy filings.
“Look over there,” said a kid ambling among the young rugby players, hurlers and soccerettes as my notebook gained more dog ears than a yard full of basset hounds. “There’s yer man Trapattoni.”
The Republic of Ireland soccer manager had proven more ubiquitous in Waterford last midweek than even Mr ‘How Do’ achieves on the Quay most days.
A meeting with Waterford United officials was followed by an entertaining lunch at Emiliano’s (Sport 14 and 15), while his short walk between there and the Tower Hotel included an interview with RTE’s Damien Tiernan.
Press conference at the Tower dispensed with, ‘Trap’ crossed the road for a civic reception before his Garda escorted, FAI-emblazoned vehicle wheeled into the grounds of Southend United.
From there, the manager and FAI Chief Executive John Delaney proceeded to the RSC, where an impromptu managerial summit was held between Trapattoni and Declan Kidney.
One unveiled plaque later, my pen was decommissioned as thoughts drifted to dinner and the more premature-line inducing deadline that beckoned.
“Did you get all that?” the chief wondered. All in a day’s work, dear readers, all in a day’s work.