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You Walk Through A Door In Estonia And You Meet The World: Master Blagger Conor Cunningham Reflects

You Walk Through A Door In Estonia And You Meet The World: Master Blagger Conor Cunningham Reflects
By Paul Ring Updated

By now nearly everyone on these shores in familiar with the tale of Conor Cunningham. The master blagger who took his chance in Estonia and ended up on the sideline as Trap's men sealed qualification. So is life a little busy for the most famous ball boy in Europe? Balls.ie called him up to find out.

“This is travelling so fast now, it frightening at this stage, I’m getting calls from all over the world. Every country you can think of is calling”

Was it his sense of adventure, the risk taking and the sheer balls it took that lies behind the appeal of the story?

“I think that’s a lot of it, a lot of people have said to me they wouldn’t never have even thought of taking the risk, I think people sympathise with us that we couldn’t get tickets. I suppose people can’t believe someone would try it and then seeing me blend in and get more and more confident! Throwing the looks down the camera and all that!”

You are more than likely one of the quarter of a million that have clicked open his YouTube video or have read the story in any one of the papers, but for anyone who hasn’t. Straight from the horse’s mouth, it will forever be a compelling tale.

“I went over confident I’d get a ticket, you’d always be confident of getting a ticket. Of course when we got there, there was no chance of getting one. Any that were being sold were at a crazy price. As the game got closer we just started talking about blagging our way in or even offering a security guard 50 quid each or something, anything really! We had travelled for nearly 24 hours straight so we were willing to do anything.”

As Gareth Crooks might enquire, what was the key to his success?  

“It was the combination of the tracksuit and the bag of balls that did it, I looked half like I was part of staff and it got me past everyone without any questions asked.”

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Was there ever a sense that a hand might slap him on the shoulder as he walked in?

“I was pretty scared for a few minutes, when I got in the match had already kicked off, the atmosphere was electric in the stadium, I took out the phone a recorded it, just because I couldn’t believe it myself to be honest! I was thinking I needed a bit of evidence quick before I was kicked out. “

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39YBxjfb-hI]

Word quickly spread about his daredevil mission.

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“The was a close up of Trap around the seventh minute when you could see me making a video! That’s what gave me away a bit, I suppose I was texting away on the sideline. The UEFA official copped on and noticed something was amiss alright.”

Conor, lest we forget did actually perform the fundamental task of a ball boy.

“Yeah around the 16th minute, that was picked up on RTE again. I knew from texts from home I had been on the screen so I got a little braver, the ball was just laying there dead, it was there for a few seconds and no one was making a move to give it back to the Estonian player, so I went over and handed it to him and gave a look down the camera for everyone at home."

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He spent the second half in the stands as a spoilsport UEFA official ended his fledgling Ball Boy career, but at full time he blagged his way into the action by getting on the pitch.

“A lot of Irish fans had made their way over to the gate but I just kind of shouted for people to clear the way for me to go through. I met a security guard then and I just pointed at the bag of balls and said I needed to get them, He waved me through and I was in. It was like I owned the place”

He failed in his attempts to get a jersey but did spread the word to the players about his exploits.

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“Keith Andrews said he would look after me but I didn’t bump into him after. I was talking to St Ledger for a couple of minutes. He was laughing when I told him the story, I walked down the tunnel with McGeady too and he was in stitches over it.”

Eventually in the mixed zone he was asked to leave and he did so with a grin the size of Richard Dunne. His life had changed.

“It’s been absolutely crazy, the main day was last Thursday, I was on most of the papers that day and RTE actually ended up calling out to me that night, I ended up on the Six One news and the Nine O'Clock news. The call came from the Late Late then so I went up to Dublin for that and I was on Morning AM yesterday. That was actually a lot longer than the Late Late; I was on there for around eight or nine minutes. I’m actually back in Dublin tomorrow for another interview for Elevate on Network 2.

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It’s not just Ireland though, its global, the local bar here in Ballincollig, The girl working there is getting requests from Canada and the US to find out about me and trying to get in touch with me. Its spread around the world!

I’ve enjoyed it though; it’s been mad but enjoyable.”


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