Sunday 11 December 2016

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Published 23/10/2011 | 05:00

A people inspired by rugby heroes

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I write from London to pay tribute to a wonderful Irish rugby team, a group of players that gave hope, not for the first time this year, to Ireland and showed us that everything is achievable if you believe in what you are doing.

Ireland is not a thing, it is a people, a people born in the Emerald Isle, or born to people in other lands that hail from that land of beauty and culture. Not for the first time Brian O'Driscoll led his charges on a roar of green, a roar of belief, a roar of courage.

What this did was give people like me in London, and millions of others around the world, a presence, including of course all those young supporters in New Zealand who have had to emigrate. So we lost to Wales. I am not worried about that because we left our courage on the field of play. Everyone gave it 100 per cent and it was not to be.

So I thank Stephen Ferris for going through years of gruelling knee reconstruction to give us those moments, to Donncha O'Callaghan for his courage on behalf of his mother and his family, to Brian O'Driscoll for the dedication that he has unfailingly shown as a leader, he too sacrificing his body and fingers on those brave hands for his country, and all the other men in that team, forgetting not Ronan O'Gara's ice-cool nerve to ground his stabilising left foot with perfection before striking with his right, and with the whole world on his shoulders.

And finally Declan Kidney, who started out his rugby influence as a teacher in Presentation College Cork, influencing so many children at that level, in the hard 1980s. That is when Peter Stringer's, Ronan O'Gara's, Frankie Sheahan's, Roger Dineen's dreams started, when our economy was on her knees. It does not start in stadiums of dreams, it starts at that level, in fields in Skibbereen and Tralee, and in parks in London and Brussels and New York.

Now those dreams, in these difficult times, have started again in many more villages and towns in Ireland and Irish communities across the world, so evident here in London and at London Irish. There is a wider message too. Ireland and all her people have hope and always will. Dreams can become realities if you work hard and make sacrifices.

Effort always pays off in the end no matter how difficult and painful it seems at times, and there is no shame in defeat as long as you give it 100 per cent. It is of note that the emigrants are happy and we will be back. That is because we have a presence and great hope.

In the meantime, we will do all we can for Ireland. Thank you Brian O'Driscoll for all that you and your team have done for us. We will remember it.

Michael Kingston

Heartache of Dupree's story

I really enjoyed the article by Eamonn Sweeney on the 30 for 30 ESPN Series [Oct 16]. He didn't mention the one on Marcus Dupree, which showcased probably the most gifted and awe-inspiring young athlete ever in American Schools/College sport.

Now that was one of the saddest stories ever told of a talent hounded, then gone unfulfilled and finally the heartache that follows.

Jimmy Power

Copy Cat tactics destroy hurling

Now that the All-Ireland series is over for another year, I was thinking about all the publicity given to Donegal and previously to Armagh and Tyrone for employing negative tactics in Gaelic football.

I then wondered why the same publicity is not given to the same type of tactics now practised in hurling, Kilkenny surely being the biggest offenders? Are reporters afraid to question Brian Cody?

Hurling as a spectacle died in 1996 when Kilkenny stifled the life out of a beautifully skilled Cork team, and ever since have been using negative play. Another beautifully skilled Waterford team have now abandoned their traditional style to copy the style of the Cats.

I know it is within the rules but even Brian Cody should agree that all the beautiful skills and wristwork have now been stifled. Even those great fighters of Tipperary have been neutered by this style of play.

Hopefully, Dublin and Anthony Daly will match them next year. A discussion on this would be very interesting.

John Berry

Shaping up for the final stretch

Both Raphael Kavanagh and Michael Enright [Have Your Say Oct 23] have erred on the side of caution.

They should have realised that Kieran Donaghy was throwing shapes for the whole 80 minutes.

Frank Clarke

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