France, ha?

26 02 2011

I like being right. I particularly like being right about rugby teams that are better than our one. France, when put under pressure up front, fall to pieces. I know this. You probably know this, Martin Johnson (spit) has managed to get it into his lug nut of a head, the All Blacks always knew it.

Why doesn’t Declan Kidney know? Has no one told him?

Now, I’m as much an antifan of the english rugby team as the next man. BUT! I was rooting for them today, notwithstanding my loyalty to France as my team of choice when not playing Ireland, for purely practical reasons. France are now not a shoe in for the grand slam, and I recon we can Rumble the English in Dublin, leaving a chance we might pip it on points should we put a gazillion points up on Wales and Scotland.

Stranger things have happened.

Not many, mind you. But still…





The Red Machine Marches On

13 04 2009

I got a phone call at nine in the morning. It was the hairdresser. Luckily I had been up since six anyway so the need to bate the head off him didn’t arise.

Well Doc. I have news.

Oh yeah? Whats that now?

Its my buddy’s birthday do today and he’s kinda after guilting me into watching the match with him in the pub, so I figured you might be the very man to take my ticket off me.

You came to the right person, says I.

So in I went to break the news to Mrs Orgasm. Sorry love, but you’ll have to do without my mug moping around the place today, following you around shopping centers and getting annoyed in lingerie departments. Unfortunately, you’ll have to spend this Easter Sunday completely without me trying to hurry you on and take the laser card off you.

Bollox. Says she.

So now we have one of those Guy Ritchie style cut scenes, like in Snatch, after cousin Vinnie says “Weah goin da Engalund” only you have brief cuts of me pulling on my jersey, turning the car key, locking the car up in town, a high speed clip of a pint being filled, me knocking it back, swirling crowds on Thomondgate and the scene ending with a BOOM and my arse landing in my newly acquired seat in the West Stand in Thomond Park.

Its not the worst seat in the house. The fact that its all the way down on the try line on the Ballynanty end is negated by the fact that its pretty high up which offers a good view of anything happening everywhere in the park.

Its 12.45. The teams are warming up, Munster right on front of me. They finish their warm up and the crowd roars as they head for the dressing room. However, O’Gara Breaks away from the team and canters towards the Ospreys, who are in a huddle under the posts on front of the south terrace. Ten meters inside the half way line. He stops. He waits.

The Ospreys break their huddle.

As they turn to jog to the tunnel their heads come up and at once they see O’Gara standing there, and as they see him he launches a drop goal over their heads, dissecting the posts perfectly.

He turns.

He nonchalantly jogs back to the tunnel.

He has thrown down the gauntlet.

What follows is eighty minutes of clinical vivisection of a visiting team. I cant remember seeing anything like it in recent times. Munster and Ireland used to have a habit of being flaky as favourites and coughing up dopey errors allowing teams to go 6 or 9 ahead in the opening minutes, forcing us to chase the game. On the bottom. Plucky underdogs. Where we liked to fight from.

Those days are gone now. Put to bed in Cardiff against Wales and tucked in this Easter Sunday in Thomond Park against a group of men who see themselves as the Giants of Welsh Rugby. I most definitely don’t want to get ahead of myself, but the Munster team I saw yesterday will take some beating by anyone. So bring on The Ladies I say. Croke Park here we come.





Good Vibes go Here

1 04 2009

Its official, Paul Warwick will be staying on at Munster for another two years at least.

I’m absolutely delighted about this. Paul has been an instrumental part of the set up since arriving, and although it might seem he has the soul of a fly half, his strength, speed, tactical kicking, general cajones under pressure and his all too natural ability to slot over a sneaky drop goal from the pocket  has seen him excel at full back on the first XV.

I’m not too sure where the confusion came from, I’ve heard multiple rumors from multiple sources but none of them hold the kind of clout that would see me speculate on it. Regardless, this is definitely good news. However, I’m kinda hoping this isn’t an April fools day stunt on behalf of that most esteemed of sources, the Limerick Leader. They’d never, would they?





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.





Oh Joy. Oh joyous, joyous joy.

21 03 2009

Let this day go in the annals of history. Ireland are grand slam six nations champions and I dont have a drop of booze in the house with which to celebrate.

I hate myself.





If Schrodinger was a Rugby Pundit…

28 01 2009

…I’m sure he’d be fapping like a mad yoke about Paul Warwick today.

I dont for a second propose to put a fine man like Paul into a box with a bottle of poison and a radioactive isotope, because I like Paul. I had to stop my son eating Paul’s dog’s shite outside Supervalue a few weeks ago and he was very nice about it all. I didnt kick the dog, or the child, or the shite for that matter but none of that was indeterminate. There was shite, a bulldog, a small child and a rugby player. There was no probability quagmires and certainly so shite getting eaten. Quite unlike today.

London Irish seem to be digging their heels in, withdrawing the announcement then putting it out again, Munster are saying nothing at all and Supervalue have yet to be contacted.

So at this moment Paul Warwick will be playing both for Munster and London Irish next year in a fantastic new era in Quantum Rugby.

I cant wait.

Tony McGahan will be fired and Albert Einstien will be hired instead, seeming as he IS in a box and thus neither alive nor dead.

Either way, its all relative.





A Home Quarter for Easter Weekend

26 01 2009

Huzzah!

After a very convincing performance in Montauban yesterday we can look forward to a Heineken Cup quarter final in our very own city over the Easter weekend. We will be up against the (Neath Swansea) Ospreys who will no doubt bring along plenty of vocal support for their fine team.

In 2006 and 2008 I travelled to Wales for Heineken Cup finals to help support Munster to two excellent victories and I have to say, I am looking forward to the opportunity to return some of the hospitality, warmth and generosity that was so willingly shown to us by everyone we met on both occasions. 

The Ospreys were formed in 2003 when the Welsh Rugby Union voted to reduce the number of top tier sides from nine club sides to five regions in order to increase the talent pool available to sides competing at European level. The model has already proven successful in Ireland (in fairness, how far do you think we could get putting Garryowen or Young Munster into the HEC?) and the Southern Hemisphere nations and with the Welsh uptake of the system it has certainly improved the calibre of the entire competition, albeit at the cost of some local blood rivalries!

In the meantime we have the Six Nations breaking up the momentum of the squads, so lets hope that the lads can come out of it in the right frame of mind to continue their winning ways into the knockout stages and set up the chance for two in a row in Edinburgh in May.