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End of an era for Irish News readers as Benny Tierney writes his Last Line

Benny Tierney signs off as columnist in the Irish News on Friday 
Neil Loughran

ALL good things must come to an end and Friday marks the end of an era for Irish News readers as Benny Tierney pens his final column.

With no more dodgy predictions, no more side-splitting jokes (Benny told me to say that) and, thankfully for long-suffering wife Nicola, no more ‘er indoors’, Fridays won’t be the same as the former Armagh goalkeeper ends an association with the paper that stretches back to 2003.

Drawing upon the age-old ‘work commitments’ excuse as he hangs up his pen, the school principal insists his last Last Line was the most difficult he has had to write.

“It was hard to try and sum up 13 years,” said Benny.

“I didn’t even mention er indoors. Funnily enough, when we used to go out people would ask ‘is this er indoors?’ but she got sick of it after a while and said not to write it any more.

“Then, after about six months of not being mentioned, she said ‘here, throw me back into that column, nobody’s talking to me any more’. So absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

One thing regular readers are unlikely to miss, however, are Benny’s weekend accumulators. By his own reckoning, he didn’t tip one winner: “My predictions were atrocious - I wasn’t so much Mystic Meg as Septic Peg,” he laughed.

“I had mates who would follow my tips every week because they thought if they didn’t, then that one week I would win. It never happened.”

Having hung up his gloves not long after Armagh’s historic All-Ireland win in 2002, Benny admits the column was “a way of easing into retirement”.

“It can be hard enough when you quit football because you’re suddenly out of the limelight,” he said, before adding. “A lot of people like that, but if you’re an egotist like me you don’t.

“I always enjoyed the craic and the banter about the column. For example, I met a guy standing at an ATM a couple of weeks ago and he turned and said to me ‘I really enjoy reading that sh**e you write on a Friday’.

“In a roundabout south Armagh way, it was a nice compliment, but also a damning insult, so I said back to him ‘why, who reads it to you?’”

The last word, as always, rests with Benny Tierney.

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