Friday 24 March 2017

Ireland must not become victim of welsh hook line

Welsh coach Warren Gatland can be easily read if you tune in to his thoughts. Sometimes the interference from Sellafield can play havoc with the mind reading, but who can complain? The fish from the Irish Sea glow in the dark, thereby negating the need for candles at romantic dinners.

Homer Simpson, who did some fine work at the Springfield nuclear power plant, says Sellafield is as safe as a house on fire, which, come to think of it, is a pretty stupid wise old saying. At least we'll be the last to fry over here in the west.

There's always the danger an English cricket fan might deliberately press the red button. Maybe we could put a roof on the whole country like they do at the Millennium Stadium.

Here's the secret Welsh plan. James Hook, who steadfastly denies he is related to George, will take the ball flat and then offload to the huge Welsh centres. Well, at least that's what I picked up from Gatland.

LIVID

Oh yes and Hook, in the family tradition, spoke his mind. He said Wales would target O'Gara. Gatland must be livid at the disclosure. I mean would Wellington have texted Napoleon on his battle plans at the eve of Waterloo?

O'Gara was great against Scotland. He is a national treasure. And he knows it -- which is meant as a compliment. Reddan was very good too.

This will still come down to a kick of a ball. The critics might have forgotten we only won the Grand Slam in Cardiff when Wales had a peno to win the Triple Crown, but they missed. And is your correspondent the only punter who thinks Kidney should have started the bigger Sexton at 10 and the combative O'Leary at nine for this game? I could be wrong and very much hope I am.

It's a case of horses for courses. There are hill-hating horses running at Cheltenham. One of my favourite Cheltenham headlines is Will Sherpa Ten Sing get up the hill? More horses hate the bustle and the platonic binga binga. There are other variables such as the state of the ground, the prowess of the jockey, the mental health of the horse, travel sickness, loneliness, luck and the physical well-being of the steed.

I hope that stops you punting next week. If, like more of us, you know you will lose but still can't help yourself then here are a few tips gleaned from two Cheltenham previews.

Robbie Power rides Oscars Well and he fancies his one. Robbie came to Listowel along with Kevin O'Ryan, the always entertaining 'At The Races' pundit for our big night. Like the other panellists, there was no charge and he even bought raffle tickets. So, too, did top trainer Eric McNamara, a gent.

We had a nice touch for The Parents And Friends Association. 'Chips' Gannon, a pro, usually goes for value. His tip is Poker De Sivola at 16/1 with Browne Bookmakers, our sponsors, who were so good to us you'd nearly like to lose.

It was onto Danno's in Dingle for the Blasket Bookmakers Cheltenham night in aid of Corca Dhuibhne RFC. As ever the hospitality was top class.

The man the bookies fear most is Tony Martin and he ventured west from Meath. Multi-winning trainer Tom Hogan travelled all the way from Tipp. Tom Cooper from Tralee fancies his Son Amix at 16/1.

That's two longshots. The double comes to 288/1. Pass it on to Angela Merkel and the lads in the European Central Bank. If it clicks it might stand to us.

I had a special week. Last Sunday we played golf at the exquisite Doonbeg with captain Kevin Hayes and John Igoe. The night before was the opening of Doonbeg's 50th Drama Festival. We partied from Tubridy's to the Igoe Inn, from which there is no escaping.

Then on Thursday there was the 50th anniversary of the West Cork Drama Festival in Rossmore where the audiences are three times the population of the village. My dad opened the festival in his day. 'West Cork is famous for ambushes', was his excuse. It took him two days to get home.

West Cork is the heart of football in the county. Heart is what it's all about, be it in drama or the drama of Gaelic football.

Billy Morgan's stinted heart stood up to three close games in three days in the Sigerson last weekend. This was probably Billy's greatest triumph. DCU were dispatched in the first round. They had 30 or so current inter-county players on their panel. UCC had none. That will soon change.

Billy got into an argument with a big bearded lad on the sideline at one of the matches. Billy sometimes forgets he's 60-something in the heat of battle. Dr Con Murphy was at his side just in case. Old pals are best. Dr Con felt responsible. He was the one who talked Billy into coaching the team.

Morgan epitomises courage, loyalty, honesty, knowledge and a fierce love of Gaelic football. He was the finest 'keeper I have ever seen.

COSTS

Ask any of the Kerry lads on the UCC squad what they think of him. His players have always loved Billy.

The UCC players raised €300 towards the costs of the weekend in Dublin. One of the UCC players called Billy aside after their victory in the final. He showed Billy a betting docket. It was €300 at 10/1 on UCC to win the Sigerson. Guess where they got the money.

I met so many good people like Billy who have done so much for their communities over the last week. It has restored my faith in our country.

Take a few days off and hit for Doonbeg and Rossmore -- for real people in the real Ireland.

There's no one more real than Doonbeg Festival director Murt McInerney. He's been involved for all of the 50 years of the drama in Doonbeg. Murt is the father of Francis and Mike who won Munsters with Doonbeg and the Banner.

As we write, Murt is going under the knife. Poor Murt broke his leg earlier this week. We didn't get home from Rossmore last night. Another ambush. We'll say a prayer for Murt on our way home -- at Sam Maguire's statue in Dunmanway.

And one for Enda Kenny at Beal na mBlath.

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