Destination: Balleybofey, Donegal
Length of trip: 13 hours
Overall rating (based on enjoyment): 1/10
Finn Harps away. The most dreaded trip imaginable in the league of Ireland calendar. Every year the first fixtures you look at is the big games, the Dundalk’s and the Rovers, but you can’t help but look to see when you’re due to make that dreaded trip. I don’t know what it is that makes the trip so horrifying. Is it the three and a half hour trip of travelling back roads? Is it the hour or so spent travelling through the North where you lose reception and have no other choice to stare at one another? Or is it the feeling after a hard fought match (and believe me there’s no harder fought fixture than up there) only to be faced with the dreaded journey home and lots of cramping bodies.
I was fortunate enough to make the trip up to Balleybofey three times this season but only two games were played.
Typical away days in the league usually mean long days of travel. Outside of Dublin, you’re generally looking at a 2 hour trip minimum. But no, not Finn Harps.
It was coming to the end of the season and our season hadn’t went as planned and with nothing to really play for (bar pride obviously) the last thing wanted or needed was to make the trek to Donegal.
My day started with a twenty minute car journey to the bus. Not the bus to Donegal but the bus to the bus to get to Donegal.( a lot of buses) A casual two hour journey from Navan up to Dublin before the journey actually began.
It never really is considered the glamour tie but when the rain threatens to break the windows it’s extremely difficult to prepare yourself, almost like a pathetic fallacy one could say, but we headed off none the less.
Factor in another two hours mid trip for food and a team meeting and you finally reach the promise land of Balleybofey. Finn Park never seemed so beautiful. The relief when we finally got to put our bags down in the changing room was palpable. Lads suddenly began getting excited as they knew that it was almost time. We made the ritual journey out to the pitch in preparation to see what the pitch was like (where the dips and potential ankle breaking holes were) and familiarise ourselves with the surroundings. As soon as we set foot on the pitch the squelch of the water under our feet was as much confirmation as we needed. It was all for nothing. The referees rolling a ball in the corner of the pitch was all we needed to see. We had traveled all day to be sent straight back home. A waterlogged pitch. Unplayable. Game postponed.
I don’t know what was worse, the trip up, the thoughts of having to turn around straight away or knowing we had it all ahead of us again next week. I can think of many more enjoyable ways to spend my Friday, watching paint dry, watching United play, anything would have been better than that 10 hour round trip. It was a memorable trip for all the wrong reasons and one I’d definitely like to forget.
Sorry for the lack of pictures as I wasn’t in any hurry to commemorate this momentous occasion. Please find a detailed plan of my journey below ……