The Odd Balls

26 03 2009

I’m really optimistic about the future of Rugby. Not just in Munster, or indeed Ireland, but the future of the game as a global sport. The 2009 Grand Slam has opened the doors for people who might in the past have seen Rugby as something other people looked at, or as an elitist game reserved for the public school parents and their offspring. Being a Limerick man I have a different perspective on it, but outside our fine city this seems to be the case. However I do think this myth is slowly but surely being broken down.

I have friends who are fanatical about soccer. Personally, I don’t get it. I have nothing against the game per sé but I could never see the point of getting behind a team from somewhere you’ve never been that’s composed of players who you will root against when playing for their national sides. But again, each to their own in that respect. Last Saturday I watched the Six Nations finalé in Nancy Blake’s and noticed a group of lads sitting in the outback wearing Celtic jerseys chanting “Come on you Boys in Green”. I thought it was fantastic. Ok, they method was slightly off but it was absolutely brilliant to see a group of people being opened up to something like this. In Limerick it’s the norm for as many people to own a rugby ball as own a soccer ball, but it was never the less encouraging to see people ignoring what might be seen elsewhere as a divide.

Sporting icons the world over seem to be something we see on television. Even here in Ireland, we see Eddie Irvine on his yacht. Roy Keane in his mansion in the UK. We see sporting heroes as something beyond and away from us that is far beyond the grasp of anyone but the most excellent usually personified by someone else, but certainly never ourselves. But since the phenomena of Munster Rugby and the Heineken Cup that has all changed. I regularly stroll past a certain Mr G Flannery in town. Ian Dowling and Barry Murphy like the odd tipple in a pub I myself frequent. Tony Buckley and John Hayes (jokes about him being outstanding in his field are BARRED)  live down the road from me, Paul Warwick not ten minutes drive away (my son has made friends with his dog, as you may know if you follow this blog). The evening after the Scotland match I had the honour of enjoying a pint with with Peter Clohessy, a man who’s fearsome legend spreads far beyond the boundaries of our fair Provence. Paul O’Connell goes to matches in Greenfields and sometimes has a scoop in Austin’s afterwards, not to mention Kieth Earls, Alan Quinlan, John Fitzgerald… take your pick.

These are the things that show us that you don’t need to be from anywhere in particular to become great. Kids who aspire to be stars can look to the people they see regularly in the street and see that through honesty of effort and truth to dedication they too can become legends, giving them the belief they need to carry them that one step further in order for them to know that they can realise their dreams. This is what rugby has done for us. Through the ups and the downs of life in Limerick we know that our children can see that there are possibilities undreamed of by other people in other places. They can see that there is more for those who would take it. And take it they can.

And take it they will.

It makes me proud to be an Irishman. Proud to be a Munster man, even prouder to be a Limerickman, knowing that we can hold this up to the world when they try to decry us. Stab City. We have shown that we can take a stab at greatness regardless of what picture people paint of us.

This is for all of us. It is for you, and it is for me. It is for our parents and our children. Something wonderful has happened right in our front garden and its about time people started to stand up and take notice of what It has to offer all of us. Here is the chance to basque in the glow of greatness and it’s been handed to us by people we see on the street each day. This is theirs. They are ours. We all stand as one, and forward we march into history.




5 responses

26 03 2009
Honest Chris

Can I just endorse every single word you say here. Any of us in Limerick might bump into John Hayes, Jerry Flannery Paul O Connell, Barry Murphy, Keith Earls or the rest. We might know their families and their friends. We might happen to know their sisters, brothers or parents, and they might happen to know ours.

And what do we do when we bump into them? We let them alone, as we should. They live here, just like us. They’re no big deal, which is what makes the whole thing so great.

By the way, I also watched the game in Nancy’s last week.

27 03 2009

Thats the point I was trying to get at. They are normal people who have achieved extraordinary things and in doing so have shown the rest of us that its more than who you are or where you are from that gives you the will to succeed. Its not what you are given. Its something else entirely and if we look hard enough we can find it in all of us.

27 03 2009
Bock the Robber

True words.

I bumped into Jerry Flannery recently and grunted at him. Howya Jerry.
Howya, he replied, and we passed our separate ways.

I too watched the game in Nancy’s. How many other disembodied internet presences hovered around the Outback?

27 03 2009

One more that I know of, but the place is generally popular with nerd and wierdos so if your looking to bump into anyone thats generally your best bet.

27 03 2009
Bock the Robber

Oh Jesus, I’ve bumped into my fair share in that establishment. Literally and figuratively.

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