A flight from London to George Best airport on Saturday morning.
Then I made the walk through part of East Belfast, with its flags and murals, to Tillysburn Park.
5th November H & W Welders 0 Institute 2 NI Championship c. 80
This was a convenient fixture prior to my visit to Dublin.
Although there was a very chilly wind fortunately the ‘main stand’ afforded a seat in the bright sunshine to watch this encounter.
The Welders had some reasonable chances before the team from near Derry went ahead from a penalty just before the interval.
Institute added another after 66 minutes and they probably deserved the victory.
Overall they played the more controlled football whereas H & W were more direct.
Institute moved into third and look to have a reasonable chance of promotion back to the top level.
Afterwards I moved to the Europa for the bus down to Dublin.
6th November Cork City 1 Dundalk 0 FAI Cup Final Aviva Stadium 26,400
I stayed out towards the M50 (Dublin centre hotels are not cheap) and got the Luas into Abbey street late Sunday morning.
Along the way some Cork fans joined at the Heuston station stop.
They were in the majority and no doubt would enjoy their time in the capital.
Rather than settle for watching the N. London derby in the pub I chose culture.
In particular the National Gallery where you can admire timeless masterpieces by Vermeer and Monet.
And at the moment a fascinating exhibition of Irish historical art that captures images from the period around 1916 as well as much earlier.
An elderly gentleman was walking round with a young relative endeavouring to explain the turbulent events of the last 100 years or so.
And there was a bit of turbulence at the Aviva where both sets of fans produced flares to warm up the afternoon.
I seem to remember they first appeared in Italy (?) about thirty years ago and it has taken that long for these Isles to ‘catch up’.
On the pitch we witnessed a hard fought encounter, a repeat of the previous year albeit with an alternative outcome.
League champions Dundalk dominated the first period and they should have been in front with David McMillan having at least one good opportunity.
Promising wide man Daryl Horgan also provided threats down the wing.
But Cork did much better in the second period and both sides had decent half chances.
The ninety minutes ended goalless and we entered extra time.
Despite their extensive schedule and travelling Dundalk edged most of those additional minutes, in general they played the steadier passing game while Cork were more direct.
Penalties then seemed likely until Luton-born Sean Maguire produced a shot that was partly blocked but drifted agonisingly into the corner of the Dundalk goal.
Much celebration ensued amongst the men from Cork and their fans behind the goal.
It was the final minute and though Dundalk sent everyone forward for one last effort it was to no avail.
Cork had won the Cup and had reversed last years result.
Back at the Red Cow I had some beef and, appropriately, Guinness.
The next morning I took the bus to Dublin airport, going the other way were Irish-based Liverpool fans returning from the mainland.
Once upon a time I too would have been at Anfield, now I choose alternative places.