"Twas often I felt like firing a boot at him' - Micko's words of consolation didn't go down well in Cork
A winning manager walks into a losing dressing room.
Long faces stare the walls down, deflated bodies slump in their seats and that sound of silence you can hear is the only sound they want to hear.
A knock on the door and heaven is being targeted by a squad of rolling eyes. It couldn't be anyone else other than the opposition manager, with a smug head on them and a few words of consolation that will, for the most part, go in one ear and out the other.
As a player and manager, Cork icon Billy Morgan had many good days against Kerry but he had more bad ones. Mick O'Dwyer, his kindred Kingdom spirit, was on the line for many of the bad ones and over the course of a ding-dong rivalry as old as time, Morgan and his Rebels became very familiar with the Kerryman's conciliatory words.
Familiarity, as they say, breeds contempt and when Micko came in one too many times to tell Cork that they were the second best team in Ireland, O'Dwyer was a lucky man that he didn't get a boot in the puss for his troubles.
"He'd come into the dressing room and you might be taking off your boots or whatever," Morgan says in an enjoyable GAA Hour interview with Colm Parkinson.
"Micko would come in and he'd say, 'look it lads, don't feel too bad because ye are the second best team in Ireland.' "
'Twas often I felt like firing a boot at him," said Morgan, dead-pan as ever.
The rivalry runs onto this day and at 76 years of age, the Nemo Rangers king is still hoping his county can steel a march on their neighbours.
"We did turn the tables towards the end. It's a pity we didn't keep it going. Maybe there'll be a bit of light at the end of the tunnel after beating them this year, I don't know..."
In the same interview, Morgan recalled how, just like Dessie Farrell and Seamus McEnaney, he was banned by his own county board in the year 1990 after an altercation during a club game. Morgan and Cork went onto win the All-Ireland that year but the harsh terms of his suspension and the heavy hand it was dealt with is something that still gnaws away.
"I turned to him and I said 'would you ever f off," Morgan recalls of the clash with a UCC player.
"He said to me, 'shut up you ya b...' With that, he was behind me, I drew an elbow on him and hit him in the chest. He put his hands to his face, as if he'd been poleaxed. The UCC dug-out, one particular individual, made a run at me, he had an umbrella and he was threatening me, saying he was going to do all kinds of things to me.
"When the match was over, we had won well. Our man came after me down the tunnel, again with his umberella, threatening and so on. Two Nemo supporters arrived on the scene at the time, one of them decked him and there was pushing and shoving. I didn't strike him."
With the Cork county board enforcing the ban to its limits, Morgan was reduced to taking a spectator role at training leading up to an All-Ireland semi-final against Roscommon.
"I used go down to Pairc Ui Chaoimh. I would go behind the goal, I couldn't go into the dressing room or anything like that so I'd just watch it from behind the goal..."
Cork player, manager and all-round icon Billy Morgan takes us back to 1990, when just like Banty and Dessie, he was banned by his own county.
- Jim Gavin's humbleness
- Hysteria around Monaghan and Dublin's breaches
- National League returnhttps://t.co/45ybGMCen1 pic.twitter.com/dBBA6bRwwZ
— The GAA Hour (@TheGAAHour) April 8, 2021
Morgan says the best thing Farrell and McEnaney can do is delegate responsibility and keep as involved as possible.
"Dublin is a different county from Cork. I was banned again, when I was Cork manager, and I remember the Dublin secretary meeting me and pulling me aside when we went into the pitch. He said 'wherever you want to go now, we'll let you get there without anybody knowing.' I'm sure the Dublin county board won't put too many restrictions on Dessie Farrell. All Dessie can do, much the same as myself, is stay in touch with whoever trains the team and so on..."