Wednesday 20 November 2019

Billy Keane: Leinster fans on tour aren't half as much sport as the Munster supporters

Leinster supporters in full voice against Toulon last year, but their repetitive singing of a Dublin GAA song isn’t really representative of the whole of Leinster
Leinster supporters in full voice against Toulon last year, but their repetitive singing of a Dublin GAA song isn’t really representative of the whole of Leinster
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

I went for a drive on a yacht in the South of France, not that far from Marseille where Leinster take on the might of Toulon. A nice spot for sure. And I told the driver he had a lovely ship. "It's a boat," he corrected.

Sailors can be very picky about these things. We might just call the yacht a vessel, just to be on the safe side. Although I'm not so sure about that term either. You'd hate to upset anyone. I was in the hospital when I was a young man and the nurse requested I dispense a urine sample into "the vessel", which was very like a wine carafe or a glass womb.

I had a letter from a woman a good few years back when I wasn't even half as smart as I am now. She was upset that I didn't know the difference between a skirt and a frock. It's funny the things that upset people who read the papers.

We hope our neighbours will not take offence today. The Leinster fans on tour aren't half as much sport as the Munster supporters, who whoop it up relentlessly. I'm not saying the Leinster fans are not nice people. They are more reserved.

I heard a Foxrock man order French fries in a chipper in Cardiff, and there's no singing the county songs. You'd get enough of the one-line hit "Come on ye boys in blue".

It could be time for a second line. Something eighties, Eurosong catchy maybe, like "woo, woo, woo, wooo". The last wooo goes on a bit longer than the first three woos, to make it rhyme in time, so will the editors please take note; the last wooo is not a typo.

By the way, I had a HSE letter shortly after I donated the drop of urine to science. The results were that I wasn't pregnant, which was a great relief. I never did follow up on what exactly it was they were testing me for. Presumably that too was negative or I would be dead by now.

I was just thinking of another couplet for the Leinster fans. What about "Hey, hey, hey, hey: Let's have another Chardonnay." There will be no shortage of wine in Marseille. But the beer is sudsy and the demis have a bigger head than Conor McGregor.

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There's a lovely azure harbour right in the middle of the city. (Well, not quite in the middle. If it was in the middle it would be a lake.) There are rows of crumbling buildings off the main street, with half- shaven lads hanging out of flaking doors with their shirts open to the waist, smoking and watching.

We were issued dire warnings about Marseille when Munster visited last year. The word was there were more muggings than you'd get in the stock exchange and that kidneys were removed from sleeping drunks. The people we met were most hospitable but, like any big city, there are places to avoid.

The Boys in Blue controversy will not go away.

Why don't the Leinster fans learn how to sing 'Follow Me Up to Carlow', 'The Boys of Wexford', 'Beautiful Meath', 'The Offaly Rover', 'The Curragh of Kildare', a Foster and Allen medley for Westmeath, and 'The Marquee in Drumlish' - my pick for Longford?


The repetitive singing of a Dublin GAA song isn't really representative of the whole of Leinster. It's lazy supporting.

There are many contenders for the Louth song but we will go with Dermot O'Brien's hit 'The Turfman from Ardee'. Dermot, who captained Louth to All Ireland glory in 1957, was that good an accordion player he could get a forge bellows to blow 'The Messiah'.

I'm sure the high-fielding Kearney brothers will know every word. Maybe Leinster could sing the 'Hallelujah Chorus' from Handel's 'Messiah' in honour of the anniversary of yet another Dub ditty. The Kearneys might say Handel wouldn't hold a candle to the Turfman from Ardee.

Referee Wayne Barnes sees the whistle as a wind instrument too and he like to play solos. The winners will be the team that gets the most penalties. Ian Madigan's kicking style has very few moving parts and he is in great form. That missed kick against Scotland was more down to bad luck than anything else.

A man who was on the sideline told us there was a strong wind, which didn't find its way into TV studios or living rooms, and it gusted from right to left as Ian was kicking.

We give Leinster the chance the bookies do not. Leinster have two excellent front-rows, a lineout expert and an international back-row. If Leinster hold out when Toulon surge near half-time then they could do it. Munster would have beaten Toulon last year but for a series of knock- ons and tactical errors. Leinster do need to bow before Wayne Barnes and play his way.

We will be cheering like mad for Leinster. I have no time for those who rail against Irish teams. In the spirit of neighbourliness, here are some travel tips. The first one is to bring a cap full of hard boiled eggs, a loaf of home-made soda bread and bottle of tea in a sock, just like The Turfman from Ardee. The food near the Stade is only fair and it's dear enough.

There's a very nice bus drive to the match all along the banks of the Med but get there in time. A steward sent us in the general direction of North Africa and the signage would have confused Magellan.


Last year the pitch was a dusty building site. We coughed up a cement block and the general feeling was that these lads couldn't organise a Mass in the Vatican.

So go on then Leinster, get it right and the day will be yours. And maybe you might sing a communal verse or two from 'The Turfman from Ardee'. I doesn't take much learning and the Kearney brothers will be delighted with you, even though, strictly speaking, they are not from Ardee.

'Your cart is wracked and worn friend, your ass is very old

'It must be twenty summers since that animal was foaled

'Yoked to a cart where I was born, September 'forty three

And carried for the midwife' says the turfman from Ardee'

I wonder what the Toulon lads will make out of that. I wonder what some of the Leinster lads will make out of that.

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