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If you have ever doubted the realism of Football Manager [how dare you], then prepare to be blown away by a story of one man and a game between Cork City and Athlone Town in the League of Ireland First Division. Strap yourselves in.
It's a cold Friday night in south-west Ireland and keen gamer Niall Connolly is playing a few games on Football Manager before he goes to watch local side Cork City. How keen is he, I hear you ask? "I don't even want to know how many hours I've sunk into that game," he tells SPORTbible.
"I generally just have my laptop open all day when I'm pottering around the house. My last save saw me bring King's Lynn all the way to the Champions League. Now it's Cork City's turn."
With the help of midfielder Gavin Kilkenny, a crucial loan signing from Championship side Bournemouth, the 30-year-old is currently sitting at the top of the virtual league after 12 games played. He now faces a tough test against Athlone Town.
A normal league game, right? Not quite. It soon hits Niall that in the not-so-distant future, the real Cork City are playing against Athlone at Turners Cross so, in a genius move, he decides to play the virtual game and put €5 on the genuine fixture finishing the same scoreline.
Goals from man of the moment Gavin Kilkenny  and Deshane Dalling, another loan signing, sealed all three points for the Rebel Army as Athlone's Kurtis Byrne managed to bag a last-minute consolation. But it was now time for the real game.
Around an hour later, Niall and his mates headed to the stadium to watch Cork in action. "I usually only place a bet if I'm going to a game," he says. "Me and my friends would normally stick a fiver on something ambitious like a scorecast or correct score in the bookies outside Turners Cross before the match."
With odds of 12/1 for a 3-1 win, Niall decided to pin his hopes on the FM gods. And it worked.
"I just thought it made sense to test how realistic Football Manager actually is... the answer is very!"
In a wonderful series of events, Cork City went 3-0 up after goals from Barry Coffey, Cian Murphy and Dylan McGlade before Athlone striker Kurtis Byrne - the man who scored in that Football Manager game - netted a second-half consolation.
"As a Cork City fan, I was just happy to be there to watch my team get the three points," he told us. "I completely forgot about the bet until I took my wallet out to pay for a post-match pint and saw the bet slip. Needless to say, I was delighted when I saw it!
"My mates just laughed because my ambitious predictions never come off. I think I'll leave FM to do the predicting in future."
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