Last weekend, Dina & I headed over to Northern Ireland to do some house hunting in Belfast so that she’s got somewhere to live when her new job starts at the beginning of April. We flew over on the Thursday night & travelled to Mark’s place in Lurgan.
So up on Friday morning, on the NIR service to Belfast and we’re tramping the streets looking at apartment and house and flat share… On day one we picked three flats that we liked & spent a good bit of time talking through the pros & cons of each. On the way home, we met up with Mark who then took us to the biggest Tesco in NI (apparently) in Craigavon.
At home that night I baked up some Chocolate Brownies – my second attempt at the delicious little treat as a thanks for Mark & Nicola for letting us stay. Given our walking around (I did 18,000 steps on Friday) sleeping on Friday night was not an issue, so after an episode of Grand Designs, we hit the sack.
Saturday saw us head back to Belfast & a few more houses, including one in the new Titanic Quarter development. However the top three from the day before still stood and due to the two agents who were managing the three properties were closed we had all weekend to make a final decision.
So we jumped back on the train & headed for Lurgan where we met up with Da & then Dad, Dina & I headed to Shamrock Park for the Quarter Final tie of the Irish Cup between Portadown FC and Glenavon. It was my first trip to Shamrock Park in ages and Dina’s first trip ever.
The place hasn’t changed much since my last visit bar the replacement of the exterior grounds wall on the Rectory Park side, with a wire fence – apparently due to the old wall being unsafe. It’s amazing how different the place looks with just a fence that you can see through. Indeed the place looks better for it.
The game itself was thoroughly enjoyable. Portadown FC enjoyed the baulk of possession chances early on & it was no surprise to see them take the lead. It didn’t last long though as one of the most blatant penalties you’ll ever see was conceded & converted to level up at half time.
The second half was more of the same, except this time it was Glenavon who struck first with another Portadown FC old boy slotting home for the lead. However, Portadown FC continued to press & equalised with a lovely move and pressed further only to have a goal harshly disallowed for a handball.
However it was the last five minutes when it all went a bit mad. With a minimum of 2 minutes indicated by the fourth official, Portadown FC scored in the second of those minutes!! The wild celebrations in the home stand was only matched by the dismay in the away stand as dozens of Glenavon supporters headed for the exit. Unfortunately there were also some words had at the dug outs and that held up the restart for a couple of minutes.
After the restart it was pretty obvious that Glenavon were merely going to punt it & hope. Portadown FC’s striker, Richard Lecky, did well to block the hoof and was then wrongly adjudged to have fouled the opponent when he was himself fouled. So of course Glenavon got their hoof opportunity, Portadown FC failed to clear & and Glenavon equalised well into stoppage time to wild celebrations from those who remained.
Despite not winning the game I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the game. It was a throw back to the days when Portadown FC and Glenavon were challenging for top of the table and playing good football. It was exciting, decent quality & loads to talk about.
It really is a pity that more people in NI don’t take the opportunity to go & support their local clubs for entertainment. There were 1,100 odd at the game, in a ground that has currently has the capacity of around 2,600 (though Health & Safety regulations meant that the actual capacity was much lower than that). They’d have caught a real cracker of a game & been thoroughly entertained.
After the game, we headed back to Fermanagh to the family home to catch up with family & enjoy a break on the farm. On Sunday after enjoying a home cooked meal (there are no better type!!) Dina & I took a walk over the family farm so she could see it properly for the first time before Mark & Nicola took us back to the airport & back to England.
On our way, we again talked about the Pros & Cons of the flats in Belfast and Dina came to a pecking order that she was happy with. On Monday morning she called up the agent & secured her top choice!!