Where are they now?
John Kelly (Former Munster rugby player)
Although John Kelly didn't come through the traditional rugby route, it didn't affect his career in the sport. He still realised his dreams of playing for Munster and Ireland and had a very successful and enjoyable experience along the way.
Growing up in Cork he was an all-rounder, good at everything he tried his hand at from Gaelic football to soccer. However, Cork Constitution was the first sports club he joined as a child and with that began a lifelong love for rugby.
"I didn't have any connection to rugby really," says Kelly. "I don't come from a rugby family but my cousins played so I went along with them to under 8s at Con and that was it."
He played club rugby through all underage levels but he didn't go to a rugby school so getting noticed for Munster and Ireland squads was difficult. It wasn't until he went to UCC that things really started happening in his career. In 1997, when rugby first turned professional, he was offered a contract with Munster.
"I remember going training for the first time and doing laps with Mick Galwey and Peter Clohessy. I ran apart from them because they were idols of mine at that time."
But Kelly settled in well, and that same year he made his debut against the the Cardiff Blues, scoring his first try for his new team. He went on to play for Munster for the next ten years, winning a Heineken Cup final in 2006.
"Having played in two finals and lost both it was weird to win one. You felt unbelievable happiness followed by relief and anxiety. You were just wondering did that actually happen. Now I can look back on it and realise what a highlight it was."
In 2002, he earned his first cap for Ireland against Italy and scored two tries. During the course of his professional career he lined out in the green jersey 17 times. He retired from Munster in 2007 but finished out the season with Cork Con, winning the All-Ireland League the following year.
He works as an accountant for KPMG and has coached the senior team in UCC. Although Kelly enjoyed coaching, he has put it on the back burner for now because of family and work commitments. He's still involved with Munster and is currently on the Professional Games Committee.
Quote of the week
'I put the bottle down on the court and it started melting a little bit underneath the plastic, so you knew it was warm'
-- Tennis player Caroline Wozniacki explains just how hot it is at the Australian Open
Number of the week
As in €355m, what the TV deal signed between the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) and Canal Plus is worth over its five-year duration
Have your say
Fawning nonsense from United fans
I totally agree with Jerry Daly ['When is a star not a legend?', Have Your Say, Jan 5] regarding the unjustified status afforded to Man United players.
Mind you, it's easy to see why this happens if you read the fawning nonsense written by Billy Keane in the Irish Independent the day before (even on dark days).
The love of United is handed down apparently. I didn't realise that United had generations of fans in China and Japan following United since they were Newton Heath. I thought that they followed United because of their success but unfortunately they have now become merely a global business with a mediocre team tacked on (aided and abetted by heroes and legends). Pilgrims? Come on. He could have witnessed the Theatre of Dreams emptying faster than a rugby international's bladder after a night in Coppers.
And, of course, he must mention Munich. Get over it. If you want to know the truth about Man United's reaction to Munich and treatment of the families, then read John Giles (who knows something about it) not Billy Keane (who doesn't).
In praise of Schumacher
I loved and agree with your piece on Schumacher on Jan 5 [Hold the Back Page].
Can I also add that the perception of him was defined here by the British Press coverage of him. With him being German, he was on a hiding to nothing early on in his career, especially with his tussle with Damon Hill (in a better car), that they gave him such a hard time.
If you want a driver's view on him, Eddie Irvine's interview about him on the F1 legends on Sky F1 show is quite good and to the point. Again enjoyed the article, keep up the good work . . . May Schumi get well soon.
O'Leary's take on 'A Christmas Carol'
Well Davy, that was a great ride you gave Rogue Angel, would you like a cup of tea?
Thanks Michael, delighted to ride another winner for you.
Ah yes, well that's the thing Davy, see that's your last ride as stable jockey for me.
But Michael, what does your brother Eddie say about all of this?
He says what I tell him to say, anyway I've sent him off on his holidays.
Is it the tea Michael, is it because I didn't pay for the tea?
Don't be silly Davy, you know I'm not mean like that, ask anyone who flies in one of our tin cans.
No, it's just that it's Christmas time and I was turned down for the part of Scrooge in our local Pantomime
So this will have to do instead!
Still searching for golf's great secret
I am now a senior citizen. I read the golf column by Dermot Gilleece every Sunday without fail -- he is a fine journalist, full of interesting stories about the history of golf.
I first got an interest in the game when my late father brought my brothers to Kilcroney in 1949 (I think) to play B Locke and H Bradshaw following the British Open.
I have seen all the Irish players over the years, all the English players, Scots and Welsh. Then we had the lesser lights who visited clubs in the summer and made lovely looking clubs, men like 'Snowball' O'Connor who gave lessons in Connacht clubs during the summer (I think he was a brother of 'Himself' -- my memory is of him being at Loughrea.)
Nowadays golf is too commercial -- TV presentations, media coverage, equipment and sponsorship. We are all influenced by what we see on the screen and news media. Top players' swings are instantly analysed by professional coaches.
For the club player it is hard to get a full understanding of the swing -- I still do not have this. For example, a friend giving me tuition at Rosslare in the early 1950s said: "Golf is a right-handed game played with the left hand". Very few professionals' books and even videos can teach golf: I still do not know if it is a two-handed/two-arm game. Do you bring back the club by moving back the left hand/forearm or does the right play a part?
I am not mentioning turning hips or shoulder turn. Does the left lead the forward motion or are both equally involved? (I am not alluding to body movement here).
I think it would be brilliant if Dermot could do a little tuition each Sunday. If necessary he could be advised by a trusted friend. The game has been complicated by the likes of Woods and Scott, bring it back to its simpler format.
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