Tuesday 25 July 2017

Slaying Red army can cure blues

Kerry mourns but Ireland's World march is ideal tonic

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

When I was growing up we lived under constant threat of a Russian invasion. The Russians were communists and pagans who wanted to torch churches and replace the GAA with chess.

Or so we were told. I have this vague recollection of praying to JFK, who would save us forcibly inducted commies from burning in hell, which at that time was still very much a sovereign state.

The only Red Army ever seen around our place was when a group of Munster supporters took a mini-bus to Thomond Park.

Now it's payback time. We play Russia in the World Cup tomorrow having successfully invaded and drawn with them in the soccer Euro qualifiers a few weeks back.

We were lucky but magnificent in Moscow.

Tomorrow, Russia are the underdogs. So too were the US when we outplayed them. And next month we will conquer the Roman Empire. Mayo beat London, and Galway annexed New York.

Yes, Ireland has become the most powerful nation on earth. But some of us here in Kerry would rather have conquered our own country.

The form is bad ever since the All-Ireland defeat to Dublin.

I have taken over the role of grief counsellor. The pub customers lay it all on me. I'm going through chronic post-traumatic stress as it is.

The punters are pining away at home and discuss the match incessantly. They talk it out of themselves and leave, but then I have to face the next wave of the lonesome and dispossessed.

From now on anyone who mentions the game is barred.

I forced myself to look at it again, the All-Ireland that is. I felt young Barry John Keane (no relation) was the victim of a bad call. He was the lad who was penalised by referee Joe McQuillan (definitely no relation) for that magnificent winning point from Stephen Cluxton.

I thought on Sunday it was 50-50 and wrote that, in the context of a game which was so close and so hard-fought, the free should not have been awarded in the interests of natural justice. Now having looked at again it was 100-0. Definitely no free.

But we must kick on. Kerry have to stop giving out about the ref. All through our history we have had to overcome what I considered to be bad refereeing decisions.

Barry John, though, was distraught on Sunday night. The kid is in no way to blame for our defeat. The consensus here is that we do not begrudge the Dubs. How could we, after a comeback that has Lazarus demoted down to No 2 in the Guinness Book of Records?

We have had more post-mortems than CSI Miami. Now let us praise a doughty Dublin, the better team, and beat them next year.

Ireland should beat the Russians tomorrow morning at 6.0.

It's important to get this one just right tactically. Do we stay up all night or go to bed and get up again? The lazy will do the unpatriotic thing. Tape the match and watch it over brunch with freshly squeezed loved ones.

I'm going to find out who every one of you are and phone you with the result.

The Russians are coming and we can repel them easily enough. I managed to get all of their game against Italy on the superb official World Cup site, www.rugbyworld cup.com.

They even have little stick-up bits you can click on to see the tries and a yellow card denotes binnings.

But tomorrow morning we'll be up when the milkman turns over for his second sleep and dreamy lovers touch toes in the first tentative phases of foreplay.

There's no way a truly patriotic Irish fan could snore while his country takes on 'The Bear'.

Our foreplay will be listening to Popey, George and Conor.

Will we beat Russia? Yes. But they do have a Stringer-esque scrum-half by the name of Alexander Yanyushkin, who terrorised the Italians. Unlike their former colony Georgia, though, the Russians have a woeful scrum and it had them in trouble all through.


Much depends on the weather. A bad day and it will be a lot tougher, especially on the kickers. New Plymouth was particularly wet and windy. It's easy to criticise kickers in studios where the only breeze is when someone turns up the air-conditioning.

Ireland have done well, as we predicted. Too much notice was taken of friendly matches, which are known in the GAA as challenge games, and no one who knows anything takes the slightest bit of notice of those.

The team hasn't won anything yet, but our prediction of an Ireland-New Zealand final is still on track at 66/1. I hope the money doesn't change me.

The great pity is we didn't join the space race. There's no doubt we are far superior to Russia and the Americans in line-out lifting.

Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, was a big rugby fan. He founded a rugby academy back home in the USSR.

The Dubs, in their current euphoric state, will probably give the honour of the first man in the stratosphere to Cluxton after that over-the-bar catch in the second half.

They do tend to lose the run of themselves.

Yes indeed Dublin are rightly over the moon. Did I just write that? Grief can do strange things to a man.

And the message to the Dubs is enjoy the win. Sam is only on sabbatical.

Irish Independent

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