Rugby Sport

Ireland Win Grand Slam

They couldn’t do it the easy way.

Despite enormous, heroic efforts, after 40 minutes of savage, caveman struggle, Ireland went in at half time six points down, and we frowned at each other glumly.

Not looking good.



Then, 3 minutes into the second half, after a clinically-worked movement, O Driscoll grounded the ball right on the line.  Try.  O Gara converted it and suddenly we were 7-6 ahead.  Two minutes later, Tommy Bowe latched onto O Gara’s little chip behind the Welsh defence and sprinted for a try right between the posts.  O Gara converted and it was 14-6 but it was never going to be easy.  Two more Welsh penalties brought the score to 14-12, and when Jones dropped a goal with six minutes left on the clock, it looked as if the game might be slipping away.  15-14 to Wales.  But then, with only three minutes left, O Gara dropped into the pocket and slotted a near perfect drop.  Ireland ahead 17-15.

All we needed now was to keep our shape and our discipline and wind the clock down but it wasn’t going to be easy, and then, with 16 seconds to go, the referee awarded Wales a penalty to save the game.  This would make it 18-15 in favour of Wales and it would be the final kick of the game.

Sixteen seconds!

Stephen Jones stepped up to take the kick and four million Irish people closed their eyes.  In an unparallelled contest of telekinetic power, every living Welsh person willed the ball over the bar while every single Irish person willed it to fall short.  This time the Irish got their way and Jones’s kick fell just short, breaking every Welsh heart in the world while across the water, Ireland went crazy.

The longest sixteen seconds I have ever seen, ending one of the finest games of rugby you’ll ever witness, a game that was a credit to both sides, and a game that either side could have taken.

Wales were powerful opponents but you wouldn’t have it any other way.  This was how to win a Grand Slam in historic style, though I have to tell you, my nerves aren’t the best after watching it.



Magnificent Wales Win Grand Slam

I’m screaming my head off as Mark Jones runs over the line and destroys any vestigial French hopes of retrieving this game.

Magnificent stuff.

I’ll just stand up now, if you’ll excuse me. I have to stand in front of my television and applaud Warren Gatland’s tremendous achievement.  Who’d begrudge him?

(Well actually, I can think of one guy, but he doesn’t matter any more).


Vampire Eddie Kills Irish Rugby

We should have known his kind when he walked through our door, mouthing his evil incantations about options out wide, going forward, and ticking all the boxes.





Irish rugby is truly undead beneath the cold, joyless, calculating, life- draining shadow of Eddie O Sullivan. Inspirational players like Brian O Driscoll have become trudging automatons under the Vampyre’s watery stare and even natural leaders like Ronan O Gara are reduced to twitchy, drooling henchmen following Eddie’s dry bidding and the curl of his bony finger.


Today’s performance ranks among the worst this bloodsucker has presided over, and if somebody doesn’t gather the courage to rise up and let in the light, who knows where all this will end?

One that knows all about Eddie’s proclivities is Warren Gatland, who for many years bore on his neck the twin marks of his former leader’s lust for power. Today, those marks finally faded forever. Today’s game, for Gatland, was more than just another football match, more than a Triple Crown, more than another step along the way to winning a Grand Slam. Today’s appalling horror of a rugby match was Gatland’s final casting out of the malign presence that is Eddie O Sullivan.

If the IRFU zombies don’t do the same, Irish rugby is doomed.


Off again

I had just fired my final Magnum 44 round at the last surviving critter and drained the last of the Wild Turkey when the phone rang.

ring ring ring crash!


How’s it goin Boss?

It was the Great Zucchini.

Do you want to go to Wales?


Wales. Do you want to go?

Yeah. It’s nice there. I might go some time.

No Bock. You’re not understanding me. Do you want to go to Wales?

I was beginning to sober up. Apart from anything else, it isn’t easy to sit stark naked on your patio in March, in the Irish climate, even if you are full of Wild Turkey and brown acid. Even if you’re oscillating gently in your rocking chair and firing occasional revolver rounds at your stupid neighbour. Blam! Blam!

Wales? I repeated. You mean – ?

Yeah. Zucchini said. That’s exactly what I mean.


Munster, he confirmed. It’s all arranged. You, me and four of the boys. In an eight-seater. On the ferry. Two nights in Wales.

Um, great, I managed. Count me in.

OK, Zucchini went on. What I want to know is this. Munster play Llanelli on the Friday night. How do you feel about goin to see Cardiff playing Sunderland on the Saturday? We got tickets.

Um, I said. Let me think about it.


The Six Nations. Here we go again.

Limerick was yet again a sea of red rugby shirts yesterday.

What? Were Munster playing at home?

No. It was time for the annual influx of migratory Welsh supporters who descend on our fine town in their hundreds, packing every pub with their loud and generous bonhomie. I walked into Jerry Flannery’s to find that they had taken over the entire floor in front of the telly, cheering and clapping and singing before the match even started. The rest of of the pubs in town were the same, with red-shirted visitors occupying every decent vantage point.

This is a remarkable phenomenon. It happens every year, and what’s more their numbers increase every time they arrive. I asked one guy why they do it. It’s the welcome he said. Another guy said it was because you could go into any pub and discuss the match with the locals. Two lads I met actually work in the Millennium Stadium but travelled here instead because they reckoned the party would be better, and they were right. The last I saw of them, they were dancing on a table in my pub of choice while the band played Delilah and Green Green Grass of Home in their honour. Yesterday they lost to Ireland, some would say unfairly, but they kept their spirits up and their personal warmth never failed them.

We’ll welcome them back to Limerick next year and long may it continue.

kick it on