They didn’t know each other before meeting as finalists in a Budweiser competition offering tickets to the World Cup - now Dubliner Dara Hayes (on left) and Rochfortbridge man Brian Kenny are travelling to Qatar after agreeing that whoever won would take the other one with them.

Brian off to Qatar with friendly opponent after competition pact

Two soccer-mad men who were the last two standing in a competition offering a trip to the World Cup final in Qatar are now both going after making a surprise deal that whoever won would bring the other!

The actual winner is Dara Hayes from Terenure in Dublin – and his companion on the trip is to be Rochfortbridge man Brian Kenny.

Dara and Brian had never met before winning their way through to the last leg of a Budweiser competition offering a trip for two to Doha for the semis and the Sunday December 18 final.

“Dara said: ‘I want to go, and I might as well go with you as anyone!’,” says Brian, explaining how the pact came about.

It’s some time since Brian entered the competition. “I work in Lyster’s Bar in Rochfortbridge and we had a promotion in the bar that if you bought a pint of Budweiser, you basically just took a picture of the pint, uploaded it on Instagram and tagged Bud Ireland and the pub you bought it in.

"So I did that, and last Thursday week I got an email to say that I had to attend an event in Dublin in The Camden and that I was one of eight people in with a chance to win a pair of tickets to the World Cup finals.”

Brian and his brother-in-law went up last Thursday, and Budweiser put them up in the Alex Hotel, taking them then to an ‘Off the Ball’ talk event with professional footballer and pundit John Hartson and a watch party for the Ireland Norway game.

It was explained to the competitors that at that event, a competition would be held between the eight to see who would win tickets.

“So when we went in, we were called up on stage and we were told that we were going to be whittled down to four by playing rock paper scissors – and I got through to the last four.

“Then we were given a whiteboard with a marker and he asked us a football question regarding the World Cup, and we had to write our answer down and the person furthest from the right answer was knocked out again. That brought us down to three.

“So the same thing happened again: another football question was asked and the furthest person out was knocked out, so we were brought down to two.”

To prolong the anticipation, the decider was fixed to take place at the end of the Ireland Norway match – which was to prove fortunate as it gave the Dublin contender the time to propose his ‘entente cordiale’ with Brian.

“We were having a bit of food and a few drinks and while this was going on, the other guy who got to the final with me – Dara Hayes from Terenure – approached me and he said ‘What about the two of us going? Let’s split the prize’.”

Brian was up for the idea – but the complication was he had already promised his wife Ciara that if he won, he would take her.

“I said: ‘Look, you may give me 10 or 20 minutes, and I will see what she thinks’.”

Sportingly, Ciara said she was happy for him to make the pact with Dara as it was too good an opportunity to miss.

“So I said to Dara: ‘no problem’ and we went over to the guys running the competition and they were delighted.”

For the sake of not disappointing the crowd, the organisers decided to carry on with the final round – a competition in which Brian and Dara had to compete to score goals on a ‘pitch’ set up at the venue.

“We weren’t exactly going hammer and tongs for it because we had agreed, but Dara was the winner.”

The two men had never met before that night – but after their success, they were in great form and enjoyed a few drinks together.

The prize will see the two flown over to Qatar the Thursday before the final. They will be hosted in a hotel on an all-inclusive basis and then taken to both the third and fourth place play-offs on the Saturday and the final on the Sunday before being flown home on the Monday.

Brian, who is passionate about soccer and a Liverpool supporter, played at underage level with Mullingar Athletic, and he and Ciara have two soccer fans coming up the ranks, Moya (5) and Jack (2).