Sport Rugby

Saturday 10 December 2016

Secret of stones key for Irish and emmets

Published 26/02/2011 | 05:00

Why are there no bearded jockeys? How is it the local team play with the wind in both halves at seaside venues? Are pigeons monogamous? Were graveyards the first ghost estates? Can we safely eat periwinkles in months that have an r in their spelling?

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We can no longer postpone the inevitable by addling you with questions. Choices must be made. There is no ballot box secrecy here and we cannot tell both No 10s we gave them our No 1. This is something we would prefer not to have to write about.

We, being me, which is no more than a columnist's trick to make it seem we are either royal or without ego, favour a Sexton and Stringer alliance.

If Stringer was a gunslinger he'd never get anyone to fight him. Sexton kept Dan Carter to zero line breaks. There were very few knock-ons from his passes, including the Autumn Series, even though some would have you believe his deliveries are too fast. Sexton has been dropped even though he has played very well.

Eoin Reddan is a fine, clever player with a quick enough pass and Ronan O'Gara is quite simply the best kicking out-half in world rugby. He can pass too and is a much decorated Irish treasure.

Around this time of year the days lengthen noticeably. The winter is in retreat. Every day is a 'coisceim choiligh' day. The 'cock step' is a poetic measure of the extra-time spring daylight. Ireland are improving in 'cock steps'. We are a team that need games and time together. I expect us to peak for the English.

Injured players are still making their way home from the wars.

Fergus McFadden was good, but his replacement Tommy Bowe was the best winger in last season's championship. He needs games to get himself right, as do all big men. Paul O'Connell has improved with every outing. The return of Jamie Heaslip is vital to our cause. I am a big Rob Kearney fan and when Jerry Flannery gets sorted out, he too will up our standard. His new online magazine Joe.ie is a great read and it's free.

Stephen Ferris and John Hayes are probably out for the rest of the Six Nations, but I hear Marcus Horan isn't far off full fitness. Ireland need all their players if they are to do well in the World Cup.

You have to look at our performances in the Six Nations in the context of who is not playing. A fully fit Irish team will give any team a run. We haven't had that since the Grand Slam.

Scotland haven't had much luck with injuries either. On paper we have a better team, but Scotland are mortified after losing to Wales. On paper we should win well, but then again the crossword is the only game played on paper.

Euan Murray, the Scots' prop, is out because he doesn't play on Sundays for religious reasons.

These Sunday games are a curse. TV is the cause and the Six Nations fixture builders showed absolutely no regard for those who have to go to work on Mondays.

Someone might possibly tell the 'suits' there's quite a nasty recession going round and it's catching. The authorities have no feel for tradition, camaraderie or the extraordinary ordinary man. Messing with the traditional Saturday game will come back to haunt them.

There are few flights out of Edinburgh on Sunday night and there's no time to get south to the other airports.

Do the Six Nations organisers have any idea how difficult it can be to get around a significant other or a significant boss? Edinburgh will buzz tonight, but Cinderella has to be home for 8.0 on Sundays.

This is Ireland's second Sunday game in a row. To make matters worse it's the second Sunday game that has clashed with the North Kerry championship final.

The Emmets are playing Tarbert on Sunday in Moyvane, around the same time Ireland play Scotland. It will make for a great evening in the village.

The glitzy Fitzy Chicks of 'All-Ireland Talent Show' fame will play and sing melodiously in front of Kennelly's Hardware where the nails never rust. Four thousand or so will forego the traditional jelly and ice cream.

But there will be a free suckling pig for desert. The head chef is Tally Ho Johnny 'Hen Harrier' Fitzmaurice.

His pandy is not for vegetarians or slimmers. It is laced liberally with the juices of the pig and has more butter per square foot than a supermarket cold shelf. The potato puree is that smooth it could have been pounded with a kango hammer.

There's talk locally, in this the beginning of the calving season, beestings will be added in place of milk, it being the NK Final and all that. Beestings is another word for colostrum, the first flow from the cow after the calf is born. The Kilkenny footballers would win Sam if they were fed on beestings.

Tally Ho told us one night, in the strictest confidence, why it is that his pigs are always cooked right through. We will make a decision in the next few minutes on disclosure in the cause of the common good.

Seamus Galvin is the carver. There was a surgeon lost in that man. He could slice a sliver off a large woman's bum and she wouldn't know it was missing until she sat down. And the crackling is as crisp as a frosty morning.

Listowel hope to win the three-in-a-row for the first time ever, but we are really up against it. Tarbert beat us in the cataclysmic final of 25 years ago and their team was honoured at half-time in the drawn game. I wasn't playing due to a spinal injury, but I was the physical trainer.

The pain is still there in the heart and is cooked right through. The back always hurts but there are tablets for that. I couldn't go into Bob Stack Park until after my friends from Tarbert were introduced to the crowd. Maybe we'll be better by the 50th -- 25 years is too soon.

Today, counting day, may well change our little country for the better forever. The measure of an Irish person will not be the stack of cash, but the height of a column of votes. Today we are the bankers and the tellers.

But tomorrow there are local matters of international importance.

And in this the beginning of a new age we feel it is only right and fitting to disclose the secret of the stones.

Tally Ho places hot rocks inside the pig thereby ensuring the beast is cooked not only from outside in, but also from inside out.

Smart or what?

Irish Independent

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