"So I lost a bet and had to get a Marty Whelan tattoo..."
So begins an epic tale of friendship, devotion and Fantasy Football, which unfolded on Twitter last weekend to the delight of a heatwave-stricken nation.
Phil O'Kelly lit up the social media platform with his story of committing to a massive tattoo of living legend Marty Whelan's face on his thigh, after losing a bet with a friend in a Fantasy Football show-down.
So I lost a bet and had to get a Marty Whelan tattoo... pic.twitter.com/WBdNjGleJT— Phil O'Kelly (@PhillyOKelly) August 14, 2022
The terms were simple: whoever's Fantasy Football team scored the most points for the 2021-2022 season would be crowned winner, and could decide what tattoo the loser would get. The loser, however, could decide where it would go, and the tattoo had to be no smaller than a €2 coin.
The first omen for disaster comes when O'Kelly reveals his friend's choice was a rendering of Marty Whelan's entire face, compared to O'Kelly's choice of a geometric lion, based on the logo of a beer bottle from Burkina-Faso.
"I got a tatt of this years ago and have been slagged ever since for being sponsored by Disney", he wrote on Twitter.
O'Kelly's mate had plenty of material to work with. From a moustachioed Marty posing up a storm with Sade, to him reclining seductively beside a car, the options were seemingly endless. In the end, they went with "classic Marty": RTÉ Lyric FM mic firmly in one hand, the other raised in a jaunty gesture of invitation.
After an "unbelievably tight" season of Fantasy Football, O'Kelly was declared the loser and set about organising his tattoo.
He reached out to tattoo artist Kit in Live Fast Tattoos in Temple Bar's Eustace St. "His first guess was Betty White (which would have also been pretty cool!) but when I told him it was a Marty party, he was loving it", he wrote.
Kit advised against getting the work of art tattooed on O'Kelly's rear end, which had been his first thought. Bewilderingly, the foot seemed to be his second.
"Also, the €2 coin thing... I knew I was going to have to get it bigger than that for definition, but I figured maybe 5 or 6 inches in total should be grand", he wrote.
3.5 hours later. The man himself! pic.twitter.com/FcOBFGSKtA— Phil O'Kelly (@PhillyOKelly) August 14, 2022
A dilemma quickly emerged: five or six inches wouldn't be big enough to do justice to Marty's magnificent mug, as Kit explained. "Basically you would have a tattoo of a guy with a moustache but you would need to tell people it's Marty Whelan."
Nine inches was the final answer, and the pair cracked on with the Marty party.
After three and a half hours of tattooing, O'Kelly walked away with a smirking Marty on his thigh. "At the start I told him the most important thing was to capture his smile (I definitely didn't want a grumpy Marty on my leg forever more), and Kit absolutely nailed it", he wrote.
I'm honoured to be on Phil's leg... forever https://t.co/TT3elweDml— Marty Whelan (@martylyricfm) August 15, 2022
The benefit of having a living legend's face tattooed on your leg is, of course, having said living legend respond to it on Twitter. "I'm strangely flattered, such bravery", Marty wrote, before adding – touchingly if not a little intimidatingly – "I'm honoured to be on Phil's leg... forever".
Very much enjoyed my chat with @aifricoconnell on my old stomping ground @RTE2fm today. And all because of a @PhillyOKelly tattoo.— Marty Whelan (@martylyricfm) August 15, 2022
I bring the @RTElyricfm branding with me everywhere. pic.twitter.com/yAyeCgZRRR
Marty Whelan discussed the leg-endary tatto on RTÉ Radio 1 - listen back here.