Munster’s still warm carcass lies on a mortuary slab in Northern Spain. Outside in the reception area, Mourner-in-Chief Sophie, stands reverentially and alongside Seán the accountant (played with Old Crescent – Sophie played with Seán), both grief stricken.
“Sorry for your trouble Sophie”, whose recently straightened hair and fake tan are holding up well considering her loss. She shifts her weight uncomfortably from one leg to another and wished she’d worn her Uggs instead of these tight, knee high boots.
“The lineout Michael, the lineout broke down and we just couldn’t establish any sustained, quality, go-forward ball. Tommy O’Leary got man and ball all day and ROG was under constant pressure in the pocket“
“Jeez Seán, what the hell happened?” from the next sympathizer, a tearful Oisín – a solicitor.
“From a hopeful situation, such early promise and with the real chance of a great weekend in Paris later this month avec Les Folies Bergère.
Mais, le Beaujolais nouveau n’est pas arrivé cette année, Sean.”
“Thanks, thanks, try not to make this more difficult than it already is Oisín. Sometimes the X-factor isn’t enough. George told us this might happen.”
Hysterical Mary, mascara running left, right and centre like Mafi didn’t, was wailing in a back room.
“Our defensive strategy broke down and McGahan didn’t see the holes appearing early enough.”
“Stop jumping up and down Mary, the match is over “said Áine,
“You’ll mess up your outfit and have to change again before we go out this evening in Biarritz”
The ragin Bull Hayes rages no more and the next man who picks him to start in red or green has no humanity or respect. If he must play, play him as an impact sub in the fourth quarter when the others are getting tired and he can match them for strength and energy. This man owes nothing.
We watched events unfold, car-crash like and less in indignation now then we had been five years ago, in a pub – no one had caved for a pig in poke deal with Rupert Murdoch. There were hundreds there, too many really and like in the old days, space was at a premium but unlike back then people were less friendly, less together. Three men in red shirts jammed together and allowed no one to get a drink and shouted at anyone who stood in front of them, their petulance and arrogance as powerful as another surge from the broken nosed Imanol Harinordoquy, who looked like one of those beaky guys from a Pink Floyd video.
I went around the corner and called a pint only to be told by a girl and her mom that “there was a match on”
The 1st time I noticed Denis Hurley was when he was being subbed by Scott Deasy. I’d forgotten he was on the pitch and in a way that defined the match, Biarritz saw that Munster’s weakest link was their ageing set of forwards and this is where they attacked, time and time again. Experience counts for nothing in the face of a gang of twenty somethings coming into their own on a Sunday afternoon.
The bookies had us @ 11:10 on, and there are no bare foot bookies in Limerick today.
I met a couple of older fellas this afternoon in the Duck, and eventually someone woke up and mentioned the match. They owe us nothing – ten good years – two European cups and great fun.
It is time to write the epitaph on this great team and it should be coloured red, vivid and energised with the verve and excitement which they carried with them.
From that annihilation in Toulouse maybe a decade back when the legends were only starting out, to an early summer’s day in Spain, when most travelled in expectation and the bookies crossed their fingers, it’s been some journey.
Mary gathered herself and thought about the nice meal and glass of wine. She looked over the Mass cards – so lonely around the fields of anthenry. Sophie hitched up her slightly too tight jeans and exhaled for the last time “Irish by birth, Munster by the grace of God” and turned to her partner crying,
Seán, Seán, but what about the Chardonnay?