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Wednesday 20 November 2019

Magic night when Harry met Davy

Davy Byrne and the minor party that brought Daniel Radcliffe to his house

Davy Byrne in action against Kerry during the All-Ireland final replay last month
Davy Byrne in action against Kerry during the All-Ireland final replay last month

It's not strictly the catchiest of titles - 'Harry Potter And The All-Ireland Minor Title Winning Celebrations'.

But unlike JK Rowling's mega series, this story is true.

And here in AIG's offices on North Wall Quay, Davy Byrne - the plot's second most central character - tells it for the first time.

Before that, Byrne fields the usual out-of-season questions an All-Ireland winner might reasonably be expected to face.

Dutifully, he dishes out the answers of a man under no great pressure.

Yes, he agrees, it was a great year to be a Dublin player.

And no, Byrne discloses, there haven't been any retirements just yet.

It's just after Byrne diplomatically espouses the merits of each of the three Footballer of the Year candidates with whom he won a fifth All-Ireland title in a row last month that the enquiry comes.

'Tell us about the time you kidnapped Harry Potter?'

And Byrne laughs as though he'd actually forgotten the night he woke his mother up to tell her Daniel Radcliffe was downstairs in their home.

Retreated

"I've actually never been asked about that," Byrne smiles.

"And I don't know if 'kidnapped' is the right word.'

So he spins the yarn that Byrne reckons is the one he'll come back to if asked later in life if anything interesting has ever happened to him.

It was the night of September 24, 2012 and Byrne and his Dublin minor team mates were out celebrating the All-Ireland title they'd won the previous day against Meath.

Byrne was the team captain and some of the squad had retreated to his house.

Meanwhile, another group were wandering down Grafton Street when they spotted Radcliffe, in Dublin at the time filming the rom-com 'The F Word.'

"They were telling him 'we're going to go back to the captain's house if you want to come.' And he said 'yeah, sure, go for it.'

Oblivious, Byrne - a self-proclaimed 'absolute Harry Potter nerd' - answered a call from Conor Mullally.

"He was saying 'we're with Harry Potter in a taxi and we're coming back to your house.'

"I said, 'yeah, very good' and just hung up.

"Then the doorbell rings 15 minutes later and Mullally is looking at me, going 'Harry Potter is right outside your house'.

"So I walked outside and he was standing in the front garden."

"I went upstairs to wake my parents. You can imagine the look on my mother's face when I was shaking her saying 'Daniel Radcliffe is downstairs.'

"I think she thought I had too many drinks! But she came downstairs and made him a cup of tea."

Byrne reckons that Radcliffe stayed for maybe two hours, all the while he was trying to quietly usher his famous guest into the next room, in order to get him to sign his copy of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'

"I wanted to do it away from all the lads, so I wouldn't get any stick."

"I had a good chat with him. He's a good guy."

Two years later, the story gained an epilogue.

Radcliffe had no money with him when the Dubs bumped into him on Grafton Street,

"He was just - I don't know - out for a late night stroll. And so he had no money to get home. So we ordered a taxi and paid for it."

When a researcher from the Miriam O'Callaghan show rang Mullally to ask him about the episode a couple of years later, he jokingly explained how they had covered his fare.

Almost exactly two years after their night out, a letter arrived to Mullally's house with a €50 note attached.

It read: 'Hi guys. So, thanks again for paying for my cab. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't honour my word and pay you back. Once again great meeting you all. Hopefully this covers it.'

That was the night after Byrne became the first Dublin man in 28 years to lift the Tom Markham Cup as All-Ireland minor winning captain.

Less than two months later, he was summoned into the Dublin senior squad after a phone call from Mick Deegan he initially suspected was a wind-up.

And last month, he was a starting member of the first senior men's team in football or hurling to win five All-Ireland titles on the spin.

But as Byrne readily admits, they'll all be down the list of anecdotes he recites in his dotage.

"I mean ... it's probably the best story I'm ever going to have in my life," Byrne laughs.

"I peaked at 18!"

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