independent

Monday 21 October 2019

Tadhg's parents rejoice in World Cup 'fairytale' success

Tadhg’s parents Margaret and James at their Campile home with last week’s copy of their local paper
Tadhg’s parents Margaret and James at their Campile home with last week’s copy of their local paper

David Looby

Like their world renowned son, Tadhg Furlong's parents Margaret and James have the Rugby World Cup final in their sights, planning to be in the International Stadium in Yokohama on November 2.

Furlong has already added to his fame at the venue, by scoring a powerhouse of a try against Scotland in the Irish team's tournament opener.

At their Ballyvelig, Campile home, his parents Margaret and James treasured that moment, roaring as he touched the ball down.

'That was a major relief,' Margaret, who is principal at Ballycullane NS, said, as she took time out to reply to a call from this newspaper last week. 'We watched the match at home, as we always do unless we're at the stadiums. We got up really early to hear the commentary. I was roaring him on from afar for both of us when he scored the try.'

She said James is a lot calmer than her watching Ireland matches, adding that getting that first victory has helped to settle the nerves within the team, and also for her and James. 'I would imagine it was a major relief for the team in terms of getting that performance in. There were a few jokes about Tadhg having his tongue out (when he celebrated) after but he takes it all in his stride.'

Although she has seen her son play countless times, Margaret is like any mother and she always worries that he'll suffer a bad knock. After the Scotland game he reassured her via a WhatsApp message that he was fine. 'He was sore and a bit tired, nothing more.'

Tadhg, who turns 27 on November 24, brushed off criticism of the Irish team following the defeat to England, telling his parents that the team were after a particularly heavy training session in Portugal and that he could barely move his legs on the pitch that day; which was true of many of the players. 'He's very logical. Once a match is over it's on to the next one.'

She attributes her son's resilience and mental strength to his rural Wexford background. 'He didn't attend a rugby school. It was tough going in coming from a rural background.'

She said he was always ambitious to play hurling for Wexford or rugby for Ireland. 'We were thinking that he was saying that off the cuff. We never actually thought he would. I think his rural background as a rugby player that was a really big driving factor for in initially, but he is happy in his skin now.'

With an ultra competitive father and a determined mother to look up to growing up, Furlong was blessed with great Wexford genes.

'James can be ultra competitive. I have the ethic of sticking with things; I'm like a dog with a bone sometimes and James would have more of a flair for things.'

The proud parents have booked tickets to fly out to Japan in mid-October for the quarter-finals, which Margaret, a keen rugby fan, hopes will see her son and the Irish team face off against South Africa.

'We have great faith in this team. We are heading off in mid-October and the trip runs in to the midterm. South Africa have one way of playing; they beat you up, whereas with New Zealand you think you have beating them but they keep coming back in the last ten minutes.' She said Tadhg is loving his life as a professional sportsman, adding that at heart he is 'a bit of a messer'.

When asked if he has ever mentioned a career in coaching, Margaret said he hasn't but could pursue a career in business, as he has his Business degree to fall back on. She said she has to pinch herself sometimes when she sees him on the telly.

'I pinch myself constantly, especially the year they won the Grand Slam and everything. It's fairytale stuff for James and myself. For Tadhg it's hard graft. He has to be away.'

Tadhg is in a long term relationship with Cushinstown woman Áine Lacey. He hasn't mentioned the marriage word yet and Margaret hasn't gone there, leaving the happy couple to themselves.

Her eldest son Eoin - who is a musician with The Holy Show band - is a major source of pride for her.

Residents in the village of Campile have gone all out with a massive photo montage of Tadhg in a film reel format, hanging from a hoarding across from the village supermarket and chemists, an image that has no doubt made its way to Tadhg 9,600kms away.

She said he keeps his own counsel and hasn't spoken about how far the team can progress in the tournament. 'I am the last person to get information out of him,' she said.

But knowing Tadhg he has his sights firmly set on a final in Yokohama and a few quiet ones in Campile afterwards, maybe even on his birthday.

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