Sunday 20 October 2019

Skill, guts, power, luck – the perfect recipe for success

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

There, in the midst of the milling crowd, it all made sense. That first line is a bit like the opening of a romantic novel.

You're probably expecting the next instalment to read: "Her heaving breasts fell and rose like a ship on the stormy ocean and they kissed passionately for what seemed like forever."

Up against the wall outside the chipper, as they stood in pools of carrot and parsnip vomit.

Sorry about the cynicism, but there isn't much romance left in the world. Unless you follow Munster, that is.

It was in Montpellier when the crowd were in a frenzy, we calmly reasoned the ingredients that make for a winning team.

The passion comes from the players and we all know the phoneys from the good guys. Munster gave their all against Clermont and might even have won.

After the game there was a sense that even though we did lose, the honour of Munster was upheld. The tradition of never giving in was handed over to the next generation.

You can talk all you like about academies and gyms and programmes, but without that bond between players and public, a team will never win trophies.

I have seen skilful players pack it in when the going gets tough – even in Kerry, where we still suffer from the delusion that unless a player can kick with both feet and juggle the size five on his pinkeen, he's not following on in the tradition of the immortals.

Let me tell you this: I have seen a good few of the immortals play, and nearly all of them had 'die rather than lose' in them.

Some Kerry footballers have grown lazy. The marking-up of your man is a thing of the past and savage hard work is only for weaker counties.

Years ago, I heard a shellfish lover described as "a great man to eat periwinkles but no good to pick 'em".

You need the mix of graft and skill. Kerry still have enough pickers to win the championship.

If Barca were jockeys, they would have been brought up before the stewards under the non-triers rule after their hammering by Bayern Munich. Yet these lads could dribble a medicine ball through a hair crack.

Even without Lionel Messi, who has been run into the ground by his bosses, Barca should have won at home in the Camp Nou. They were beaten 3-0; 7-0 on aggregate.

Messi would have set a different tempo. He might have scored an early goal to give belief and purpose to the weak ones. Genius is so rare but skill isn't. You will win nothing without skill.

Donegal had it. We hear so much about Donegal's work rate, but all of their players could play ball. And they had two or three who knew how to score.

Size matters. Big men are needed now for every game. Don't ask me why but all of our sons are bigger than us. A lad said to me lately: "We were only half-fed."

Another small man moaned he would have been 6ft 3ins if he hadn't been smoking 20 a day, in the womb, back in the times when doctors told pregnant women cigarettes were a good cure for anxiety.

Meath's Bernard Flynn was probably the smartest corner-forward of them all. Flynn found a parking space for a double-decker bus in a box of matches. He would have made it today, but only for a short time. The big lads would have slaughtered him.

As it is, he has had several operations for footballing injuries which still bother him years after the blows were struck.


There was a lovely moment between two old friends when the battle of Montpelier was raging at its most ferocious. Munster were awarded a penalty. Paul O'Connell put his arm around Ronan O'Gara's shoulder. O'Gara listened.

We didn't hear what it was O'Connell said, but we all knew. "Rog, we need an extra 10 metres on this one to get deep into the '22'." His friend obliged. Now that's leadership. Badly managed teams seldom win without stand-up men, and teams never win without good coaches.

Would the Cats have won all those All-Irelands if Brian Cody had taken up croquet or even crochet? We wish the great man well. He knows only too well how hard it is to make the tough decisions. The good manager must know when to be cruel and when to be kind.

Unlike Ol' Man River, there's no just rollin' along, you must push, probe and prune.

Munster could have won with a little bit of luck. You win nothing without luck. The designer of the rugby ball had a great sense of drama. If earthworms made love on the spot where Casey Laulala's kick bobbled, the moved earth might well have trickled the leather ostrich egg into Munster hands and the game would have been won.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing - RWC Daily: End of an era as Ireland say sayonara to World Cup

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport