Billy Keane: European fare turns Munster minotaurs into horses of men
Munster came home on the night of the game. There was no pub crawl in Exeter. After a savage battle with the locals, Munster were barely able to walk up the steps of the plane.
Munster came home on the night of the game. There was no pub crawl in Exeter. After a savage battle with the locals, Munster were barely able to walk up the steps of the plane.
The coaches at Exeter Chiefs and Coventry Wasps were surely shocked by the derby fervour.
The rugby season of 2018-19 is a stag party. The stated aim of a stag party, aside from wrecking the heads of already harassed and distressed publicans, is to ensure the groom gets a good...
I'm lying on a beach out foreign and as sure as the tides come in and the tides go out, so too do the columns.
This Dublin Ladies team have brought the game to a new level of skill and endurance, with plenty of tough but fair thrown in as well.
After the game Eamonn Fitzmaurice walked out on to Kerry's field with babe in arms. He did the sorry for your troubles and the sorry for your loss. There were hand-shakes and hugs.
I wonder how many Kildare fans will make the journey to Killarney on Saturday for the final game of the 'Super 8s'.
Kerry got out of jail yesterday when the Monaghan guards were distracted by the singing of the Fat Lady. Monaghan drove on from the start, and if there was a drumlin in the way, it was flattened.
Kerry's bubble was just that and the bursting was a Hindenburg. We were outplayed, outfought and out-thought by a rampant Galway. Even the referee was fair but Barry Cassidy is a very slow writer. The game was disjointed with too much scribbling and whistling.
After only the bare fortnight, Newbridge or Nowhere has already become a rallying cry for the dispossessed.
The Clare supporters came over by boat yesterday morning for the big game against Kerry. The Shannon is all that separates us from the Banner but in another way the big river links us.
One miserable point is all that was between Munster and finally a final. That's seven semis in a row lost and gone.
Leinster had to offer up body and soul as a sacrificial offering in what was a savage game of rugby.
I will stowaway my way through the Basque country of France and Spain with the Leinster fans.
It was time to go, they decided. It was time to start a new phase in life. The jump jockeys jumped, they weren't pushed. The old rugby warrior could have played on for another year.
It's Saturday - the night before the race. Ellie Mac was the first one to bed. She lay down in her stable by the River Feale and slept to the soothing sounds of water flowing over stone.
Dublin is more than a team. Dublin is a fountain of football, a holy well pumping out the water of life.
This is the age of conspiracy and the time of intrigue. We live in the reign of dastardly deeds. Jose Mourinho is the victim of a fiendish and cunning media plot and only I know the how and the why.
If God ever made anything better than the hurling, he kept it for himself. Limerick take Liam at last after another epic poem of a match. Limerick at long last.
Ah, but Monaghan loved and lost but won our hearts. Tyrone were written off and word was that Mickey Harte had lost his magic wand.
The Russians, who love their spies, are all for it. Soon enough, say the naysayers, there will be no one left to hate, and no ref left to blame.
Old men will think back on the summer of their dreams and reference sunny times. And they will state, as old men often do, "it never rained when we were young".
This is the story of four boots, several extraordinary women, Le Drop, and a panic attack.
It was in the summer of 1988 and Herself was slightly pregnant. The baby was due in July and the Euros were scheduled to start in June.
I travelled to Limerick to check if Mayo were still contenders and to try to find some signs of hope for our near neighbours, the locals. The day was hot. The Bedouin would be eating 99s in this heat.
Racing were better, bigger, faster, classier and craftier. Munster were gutsy, and gallant. We just didn't start well and Racing knew where to strike.
How many stories have started out with 'a man walks into a bar'? The man who walked into John B's on Thursday night last is an alcoholic. There's this terrible feeling when someone you know breaks out. Maybe the words should read 'broke in' and the break in is to the prison that is alcoholism.
Seven-year-old Mourneabbey footballer Anna Browne suffers from cerebral palsy. Anna needs an operation, and it will cost a lot.
The resurrection came a day early to Thomond Park. Dead and gone became fresh and fair with only three minutes to go. The Shannon is the Jordan and Lough Derg is The Sea of Galilee. From now on Lent will be 39 days long, and the children will tear in to the chocolate eggs on Easter Saturday morning.
Jacob Stockdale's mother read the lines of her palms like a fortune teller. The poor woman spent nearly all of that Grand Slam match in Twickenham with her head buried in both hands.
The weather was so cold the polar bears in London zoo wore long-johns and the penguins donned a second pair of socks. So did Jonathan Sexton's dad.
Ellie Mac is more than just a horse. She is a young boy's dream.
The snowmen are melting in Kerry this morning. Ours has lost his nose and soon enough the carrot will be in the pot. We dressed him in green and gold, and there's no image that expresses the transient and the ephemeral more than the melting of a snow man.
We are on top of the Six Nations now and every game day is a national holiday. This is the spring of the Six St Patrick's Days and the six no longer long Good Fridays.
The street-scape changes forever when a small-town street man dies. I see him now rushing from his van - the one with the road visible under the floor, and the sliding door that wouldn't slide.
There was a national obsession with the prevention of the swelled head when I was a boy and well beyond that.
Nearly 11,000 came to Killarney. Kerry were missing 19 players. Donegal finished up with 13 men; Kerry ended with 14, and won by just one point.
When we saw the state of the pitch, with pools of water, and a puddle up the middle, some of us thought there would be little chance of scoring four tries on such a bad day.
Mick O'Dwyer had us dreaming of glory days. Players have their day, managers come and managers go, but Mick O'Dwyer went on forever.
We are gathered here today, dearly beloved brethren, on this the first Monday after the 12 days of Christmas. The work of the prophet is not confined to Sundays.
The main resolution for 2018 is to become 'an awful man'. You're in the pub. Some lad you know is sitting nearby and you send him over a pint.
For years I thought Boxing Day was so called because lads went walloping each other late at night on the Feast of St Stephen. Boxing Day is so called because this was the day for giving Christmas boxes. We were given the tradition of the day out on the 26th by the English.
It was tough. It was tight. We got a fright. But Munster won in Leicester, the Munster of England.
There's an old saying, which I have just made up this very second, but it does sound like a real old saying. It goes, "when the scraps fall to the floor, the hungriest dog gets more".
Munster will be up far past their play-time next Saturday when they take on Leicester in the Champions Cup.
The 1997 Kerry team met up in Paidi's and, within a few minutes, the players slipped back in to each others company as easily as a favourite fireside chair.
It's been a bad week for sports fans in this country. The Danes got even for Clontarf and the French bought a World Cup from the greedy Celts.
I was that long up on the couch yesterday, Herself was going to send for the fire brigade to bring me down. Like as in if a cat got stuck up a tree.
World Rugby placed Ireland third of three. World Rugby didn't get the value of bringing rugby back to the people.
The friendly Kilkenny village of Ballyragget has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
I have never heard so many expressions of support for the men and women who define our GAA borders.
Munster have just escaped from Castres with an unlikely draw. We could easily have been two penalty tries down and two players short before thirsty men who take a long time to pee had time to take up their seats.
When we were kids everyone had his or her own place at the dinner table. And yes dinner was in the middle of the day.
Mom slept at the foot of Mike Shine's bed every night, and when she died his toes were cold in the winter. But what Mike missed most of all was the best friendship.
It was barman's dawn. And I was still in the cot at 11 o'clock, worn out from talking s**te and pulling pints.
Dublin won the three in a row on a sunny autumn Sunday in Croke Park and so it is that this team joins the ranks of the football immortals.
I can hear the clattering of bottles being stuck in to their coffins down below in the back yard. In a few hours the doors will open for the biggest week of the year here in Listowel.
When I was a boy, listening away in the bunk -bed bedroom up over our pub, I used to think the song I heard from down below was the Boston Burger, but it was really the 'Boston Burglar'.
There were mistakes and misses on a rainy day, but what this game did have was valour, four goals and the best Andy Moran dancing since Gene Kelly, of Mayo stock, ran up the walls in Singing in the Rain.
There's no lamentations out of Big Mick Barrett, the man who jumped the Walls of Limerick.
The co-ordinates of time, place and people are never forgotten when our team wins big, but there's no come-all-ye yet for the Irish heroines of Marcoussis.
They were hardy souls, those old poets. A good few of them used to come in to the pub and they didn't hate the drink.
This is written live. From a house at the foot of The Conor Pass. If I went to Croke Park for the Kerry-Galway game, I would have had to miss the after party of my daughter's wedding.
The cast-aside footballers of Cork reclaimed the rebel within and Mayo as ever showed they are by some way the most resilient team that has ever played the game.
St Patrick was counting sheep to get to sleep when Carlow had their last long run in the All-Ireland championship. There was no nodding off in Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday night. Carlow put it up to Monaghan, who were in mortal danger for over an hour, and if there's glory to be had in defeat, well then this was a glorious defeat.
The new drink-driving bill is on the way in and many of my friends will lose their businesses as a result of the reduction in the drink-drive limits.
Off came his Lions jersey, for the last time, in the Paradise Lost of Eden Park. Jonathan Sexton was still trying to figure out if a draw was a victory or defeat.
My mam said to me, not long before she died, that one morning when I was an even smaller small boy than I am now, I told her there were pictures on my pillow.
The DUP is back up on the high horse looking down like King Billy at the Boyne.
The Lions haven't even a song or an anthem of their very own.
The Continuity KGB were caught rotten when they went interfering in the US presidential election, and Moscow is trying to sneakily nick bits of the countries next door like a greedy turfcutter moving barbed wire fences in the bog.
The journey over the big river was well worth the crossing and the togging out in winter onesies. Clare gave Kerry plenty of it.
I'm not sure if I would like to go on the summer holidays to a place where it rains and the cold gets in to your bones. Thousands upon thousands have gone off to New Zealand to cheer on the Lions.
I'm thinking right now that the best thing about getting a good hiding is you know where you stand. There are no ifs, buts or maybes. Down we are, but not for long. In Munster the fall is the beginning of the getting up.
The ball tiptoes almost apologetically towards Simon Zebo, standing alone just inside his 22-metre line.
The Munster team tried their best to hoist Donnacha Ryan up on their shoulders for a farewell lap around the ground.
The feed was banged on top of the table, without so much as a word. The new diet had caused some friction.
Kerry played Laois in the Leinster Championship in Austin Stack Park in Tralee yesterday. Yes, Tralee is in Leinster. New York and London are in Connacht and The Glens of Antrim are part of Greater Leinster.
The only day we get to stroll through the dark parks and pathways in the company of old and new souls is almost upon us. ‘Darkness into Light’ is the annual walk through the darkest hour of the night, the hour just before dawn when the black of the sky gives way to lighting up time.
There was a time when queens defeated their opponents by beheading them downtown in The Tower. Katie Taylor, the Queen of Boxing, cut up the bloodied German Nina Meinke at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
I'd nearly have left out wasp food for him from the pet shop if Munster had beaten Saracens and made it through to the European Champions Cup final.
The British Army weren't likely to be caught out for a second time on this day 100 years ago. The year before, in 1916, the army were on the lash at the Irish Grand National in Fairyhouse when the rebels were taking over Dublin.
The Kerry-Dublin story never ends. The story is one of heroism, glory, skill, drama, conflict, controversy, victory, defeat and yes, respect too.
The Man Who Knows Everything tells me Kim Jong-un has missiles at the ready to bomb the United States. "All he has left to do is to pick the colour of the paint," my acquaintance says.
I knew for sure Munster would win when my spotter noticed the cut grass lying down for ripening in a field too tiny for silage.
There I was, alone in the sitting room where broken lives are fixed, and stories never told before are told for the first time.
I searched Dublin for Welsh soccer fans on Thursday last. There wasn't even one to be found on the eve of battle.
The words redemption and forgiveness come straight from the lexicon of the Catholic Church. So do we forgive all sins, or none, or some? The first part of the Catholic process of forgiveness is sorrow and the second part is to make amends.
The Hill came on tour to Tralee on a night when their team moved mountains.
Bishop Eamonn Casey was laid to rest in Galway on Thursday, but where will he end up? Let us imagine then we are sitting there in The Court of the Pearly Gates watching his case unfold. The case for the prosecution is strong.
The Dubs never bring their own sandwiches. And they don't own tea flasks or hip flasks either.
The moon over Cardiff was washed in a passing grey cloud formation but it was still possible to make out the all but full shape.
This is a story of love, bullying, pecking orders, post-traumatic stress, betrayal, the abandonment of monogamy - if such a concept ever existed - death itself, and the shortest foreplay ever.
It will be Friday before we know it, goes the oft-spoken Monday morning consolation. And as you chip away at the quarry-face, remember it's only five days to go to Friday, as it always is on Mondays, Five days too is the journey time to Ireland versus Wales in the Six Nations.
The Irish people have the hump over the straw that broke the camel's back.
I was watching an Attenborough from the sofa, which is a very safe place to be, unless there are bins to be put out.
I'm pretty certain sex had to be given up in the old days. I do know weddings were banned during Lent. Definitely dances weren't allowed either by the Church.
I travel the world here on this couch. It is my Tardis and I am a latter-day navigator who steers with the aid of a remote control. My chart is the TV page and I can cover a million miles in minutes. There are no soft or hard borders.
Brian Jaffray's new heart was stitched in to his chest 25 years and a few days ago. Brian isn't quite sure exactly who is the longest surviving heart transplant patient in Ireland, but he's right up there.
I'm not long home from the last night of Bernard Brogan's honeymoon. It was at the áras Mhuire Valentine's Ball here in Listowel. Bernard's wife Keira was only gorgeous and declared three wasn't a crowd.
Valentine's Day falls on Tuesday next and Tuesday is not a romantic day. No one sends flowers on a Tuesday. No one makes love on a Tuesday. So today, being a Saturday, is really Valentine's Day.
Princess Anne went around to all of the Scottish players before the game. She had a word for every man among them and the princess doesn't even have to run for election.
I'm here reporting from the frontline on Ireland's only overseas colony. It's Lanzarote and the old town of Puerto Del Carmen to be exact. The old town is just like small-town Ireland with two-storey pubs, restaurants, shops and a full house for Mass on Sundays.
Last week in the Seanad there was fine talk about the teaching of history. And the consensus was history is a handy thing and very interesting too.
The next two months of the Six Nations will be a great escape from the terrible news of the week. There are more wars than ever. Donald Trump is building walls and Theresa May might send troops to guard Newry.
Thomond is sold out. Limerick is booked out. There will be more visitors in the city than in Washington for the inauguration and if Donald Trump was a long shot well so too were Munster.
Michael Shanahan is eight feet tall now, with some inches to spare, and he's looking out at the world over the top pane of the nursing home window.
Oh the days of the Kerry dancers. We will start today's missive with a review of Aidan O'Mahony's stellar salsa performance on Dancing With The Stars.
The man selling the manic Indian Runner ducks and the pointy- beaked, big red hens came all the way from Macroom to the horse fair in Listowel. There were goats, too, and puppies, horses and ponies, a llama called Larry and donkeys with sad eyes. Noah must have left the gate open.
If there's such a thing as a month's mind in rugby, well then this it. Munster are back in Paris to play Racing Metro in a match that is more than a game. On this very day Racing Metro host a memorial service for the late and present Anthony 'Axel' Foley in the place where he took his last breath.
The year is only a day old and already I've broken several New Year's resolutions. The first broken resolution was to refrain from writing about sex in 2017 on account of the fact it drives so many people mad.
The old year is in its last day and the New Year is ready and waiting. Men and women who never get kisses will be kissed tonight. Love is in the air and the New Year is the time for renewing our vows to make the most of our lives.
Mush Frenston was praying the roads would clear of snow and he would be able to get to spend the allotted two hours with his son Andy on Christmas Eve.
The message couldn't have been clearer: "Go on son, ate up another dollop of pandy."
Every Christmas for the last few years, I have tried to decide if this was the year I could tell the embargoed story. I had to make a call. Had enough time passed from the occurrence of a story I was asked to tell by a man who made a mistake?