With an Irish World Cup bid underway, the improbable mind of Senan Molony turns to imagining more gambols with Ulysses than the horse and cycle racing of June 16, 1904. The great novel is something of a game of footfall, after all?
Dublin City FC – Ulysses Women’s Eleven
The Fantasy Ladies’ Ulysses Football team, is challenged by having to select from a far smaller playing pool than the men. Nonetheless, we have some very dedicated members willing to show a leg. Operating a conservative 4:5:1 system owing to frailty at the back, the side hopes to profit from the counter-attack, with some adventurous sallies and a hope that star centre forward Molly Bloom can somehow get on the end of things.
2. Callan 5. Woods 4. Breen 3. Dignam
6. Douce 7. Kennedy
8. Dunne 10. Cohen 11. Dedalus
An intensely exciting player, Gertie McDowell tragically had her outfield career curtailed by a foot injury, and now instead takes her place as the last line of defence against the incoming tide. Well able to lean back, Gertie can be relied on to pop shots over the crossbar and to deal with any fireworks that come her way. Nurse Callan fits the bill for the right berth. Diligent in her duties, she is preferred to Mina Purefoy, who is unavailable for selection. Callan is expected to help Gertie keep a clean sheet. The Woods girl is of impressive build and carriage, and is a natural selection at centre-half. We want her to simply whack everything in the vicinity, and she does whack, by Jove. Will need to be well policed, as she has a tendency to also carpet an attacker. Discipline an issue. Josie Breen has also been shown a card or two, but remains much admired, even if past glories have faded somewhat. She tracks her man with admirable dedication, and has not been fazed by paper talk of a £10,000 transfer, even at this late stage in her career. ‘Widder’ Dignam wears the Captain’s black armband. She is left back on her own account now, and is very self-reliant. Once had a Scottish contract, but things didn’t quite work out and a legal settlement is being investigated. Can be relied on to chivy her brood along. What needs to be said of the sparkling duo of Miss Douce and Miss Kennedy? Bronze and Gold medal winners, theirs is one of the most complementary of partnerships. They pull together in perfect orchestration in midfield, preventing sirens from ringing in defence. Well able to deal with any boots, and won’t be fazed either by imperthnthn thnthnthn. Miss Dunne is very efficient, clacking away with stud work. Largely left to her own devices, she reads things well and is vital cover when others go wandering. On the other flank, Dilly Dedalus has to live off scraps, but generally manages to somehow get past any stingy defence. Rumours of a transfer overseas were fuelled by her being seen with a French primer. Bella Cohen is the most ferocious player in the female game, and it will surprise none to know that she once turned out with Spurs. Rules the roost and has a renowned pain threshold — her job is to deal with anyone coming in her direction with ruthless efficiency. Thus to Molly Bloom, who has a pronounced tendency to stray offside, which means she will always have her knockers. Dreamy perhaps, she is also undoubtedly perceptive — and quick to get into the aria. Her daring solo runs and willingness to put her body on the line can bring noteworthy highs for this team. Always outstanding and upfront, it seems everyone eventually falls for the cut of her Gib.
Manager: Zoe Higgins. She’s long been on the game, with plenty of experience. Very physical in her day. Makes some tart remarks from the sideline.
Dublin City FC – Ulysses Men’s Eleven
Joyce allows the men of Dublin City FC to tog out in the mind’s eye, clad in sky blue shirts, white shorts and Hellenic-hued hosiery.
None can go between the sticks but Alexander J. Dowie with his mission to save. His promotional material might not amount to everyone’s idea of a keeper, but his messianic self-promotion makes him our custodian of choice.
The full backs are Garret Deasy, who is very right-minded and always played his way. Leopold Bloom goes into the left berth for his calm under pressure. He may have a tendency to wander, but is marginally preferred to ‘mad’ Denis Breen whose propensity is to boot everything U.P. into the stands. See more
Moses ‘Chopper’ Dlugacz dons the apron in central defence promising to make mincemeat of the opposition, while Martin Cunningham fetches and carries alongside in a more sensitive sweeper role. Long John Fanning narrowly misses out.
There will be controversy, perhaps, over the choice of an Englishman, Haines, as captain of the side, as if by birthright. But the ‘panther’ has subtle qualities, enabling others to express themselves. He will monitor developments while the ageing but still explosive Myles Crawford slots alongside, all balls grist to his mill, and with a penchant for getting to the byline.
The legendary Ignatius Gallaher, whose famous ability to spot movement all over the park brought him to the attention of the world, is now regrettably transferred abroad. He knew all about getting stuck in, and would otherwise have been an automatic choice.
On the right of midfield must be chosen the superior, the very talented Fr John Conmee, S.J. His gliding on a wing and a prayer will bring subtlety to this formation. And he has a demonstrated ability to bring others into play when getting it into the box.
Handed the baton on left wing is the team’s international star, Almidano Artifoni, a man with the deft turn-of-heel to give the skip to a whole cavalcade of defenders. In many ways he orchestrates the team, despite an apparently peripheral role. Joyce refers to his ‘vigorous moustache’ and ‘sturdy trousers,’ and his volleys of Italian epithets can be expected to keep any referee or blind piano-tuner on their toes.
Up front, in a 4-4-2 that’s as Dublin as one-and-one, are two of the big target men of the book, both of whom have been criticised for overweening self-regard, a plague that also appears to affect most modern players.
Yes, Buck Mulligan crows a bit, but he has a towering presence. His calling card is prodigious physical stamina and a willingness to plunge in the tackle, in which he is joined by the redoubtable Hugh Boylan, who is as slippery as lemon soap and blazes it over the bar less often than commonly supposed. On the contrary, his instinct to score rarely fails him, although his vanity needs mollycoddling.
This team may be old-fashioned in how it sets out its stall, but traditionalists will complain about the failure to include either Dedalus, both of whom have had their wings clipped on this occasion. Nor is there a place for the aggressive but somewhat tunnel-visioned Cyclops, who has many of the qualities of a true Royal Unkeen in midfield.
Sir Freddie Falkiner is on the bench, while further Joycean strength-in-depth is offered by James ‘Skin-the-Defender’ Fitzharris, the parsimonious Reuben J. Dodd (usually gets it in full back), a probing Nosey Flynn, bustling Bantam Lyons and Corny Kelleher, famed for his bodychecks, who gets the nod over Patrick Dignam.
Team manager: Paul de Kick.
These corinthians are unlikely to host any visitors from overseas squad this week, alas, but one of these days the ball must be placed back in the centre circe.
Until then the team trains in isolation like Myler Kehoe in the county Carlow.
Can you pick a better selection than Senan’s effort? Give us all a kick and email your entries to Ulysses Fantasy Football to [email protected]