Monday 23 October 2017

Bily Keane: Sorry is the hardest word especially in remembrance month of November

24 November 2016; Australia head coach Michael Cheika during a press conference at the RDS Arena, Ballsbridge, Dublin Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
24 November 2016; Australia head coach Michael Cheika during a press conference at the RDS Arena, Ballsbridge, Dublin Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

There was a man we knew by the name of Jimmy Boylan who returned to the confessional after an absence of some 50 or more years. You might well imagine then that the confession might take some time what with such a backlog of sins to be confessed.

When Jimmy returned to our house where he was staying that Christmas, he revealed the content of his cleansing. We braced ourselves for a long night. "Father," he said, "I done it all bar murder."

And Jimmy felt so much the better for his first confession in 50 years. So why can't the All Blacks say they are sorry? It's just one little tiny word. To the people of New Zealand and the 4,129 islands, atolls, isles, and sovereign countries that form the boundary of All Black land, let us say in the spirit of friendship and love, we forgive you.

So there. We made the first move. So let's hear it. "Sorry for tackling so high and recklessly."

Now that wasn't so bad, was it? And as you're at it, might it be time for an apology from the PM of NZ to BOD for putting him out of the game for over a year and nearly killing him. Even a general confession will do, as in "sorry" full stop. We will understand if no apology is forthcoming. It takes time sometimes for anger to subside.

The defeat of the All Blacks in Chicago by Ireland was Caponesque. It is now time to banish the sin of pride. Anger must give way to love and honesty. Let our two great nations embrace as one. And as for the referee Jaco Peyper, we forgive you too even though you wouldn't spot a high tackle in a Conor McGregor fight.

Last spring in Paris, Jaco let France away with some of the worst violence since the days of the guillotine. Dave Kearney had his season ended with a horrible tackle.

Thus let it be written that we forgive you too Jaco. For the second time. In the spirit of peace and reconciliation, we will paraphrase scripture. "Forgive him, for he knows not what he is doing."

In the meantime we will make do with a remembrance in November, the mother month of all remembrances. The next time we play the All Blacks the last words in the dressing room before we enter the field of play will be "remember November." This isn't over yet. And on behalf of the Irish people who have mandated me to speak on their behalf, let us now officially apologise in advance.

The Aussies have their share of apologising to do. Not least of which for 'Home and Away' which for years has split homes in this country, especially back in the days when there was only the one TV in the house. Now Irish people have more TVs than people in their houses.

When I was a kid all the neighbours' kids used to pile in to our sitting room to watch a cowboy dog called Rin Tin Tin who was even smarter than Lassie. The dog that is. The cowboy was pretty stupid. Rin Tin used to feed him when he fell off his horse. The cowboy was always falling into chasms, canyons and cantinas and getting captured by baddies. Poor Rin Tin Tin had to risk life and limb to save him. There was a big announcement in the Aussie papers to the effect that the Ireland-Australia grand slam game would be shown on TV.

Rugby Union isn't near as big as rugby league or AFL over there or is it down there? The last two All Blacks games were watched here by man, woman and child. Our country bought in to the bravery of our team, and relentless bravery at that.

We owe the Aussies big time. People here were obsessed with Summer Bay, the home of 'Home and Away'. The Irish knew more about the goings-on in Summer Bay than Galway Bay or Dublin Bay. You could pour raw sewage into Dublin Bay and no one would care but if there was a bit of adultery in 'Home and Away' the whole country would be talking about it. Home wreckers they were. There was no adultery in Ireland until 'Home and Away' except for Parnell, and Miley in the hayshed. Although it was to be said Kylie Minogue was a fine figure of a girl with a lovely voice. And when she danced it looked like as if her bottom was winking at you.

And then they go stealing our best Gaelic footballers. But the worst of all was when 15 of the Australian rugby union team drank too much in Dublin. Yes it's true. That was three years ago and the Aussies won 32-15!

Drinking in Dublin. How could you? Michael Cheika is a strict disciplinarian. "Okay now lads. No actin' the maggot. Keep the drinkin' down to a gallon and no more than that."

So could the plan be to get the Aussies legless the night before the game. I have a friend and every time he goes out drinking he apologises in advance to his friends. I must apologise and not just for crimes against the English language.

Some years ago, here in this very column, I suggested Cheika got lucky with his team selections and only lined out his best 15 by accident. That was the year Leinster won that first Heineken Cup. I apologise. Cheika has since won all around him. Sorry Michael. You proved me so wrong.

The Aussies will get stuck in and Israel Folau is the best player in the world right now. He is an all-round footballer who was well able for AFL. If we can contain Israel then we can win.

Our front five and their replacements are playing out of their skins. Devin Toner did his dad proud against the All Blacks. He caught some balls by his fingernails as he plucked fruit from the higher-most branches.

Young Ultan Dillane became only one of four Kerry men to play on teams who beat the All Blacks. He's on the bench today. The kid is as Kerry as Kerry is. Proud of you Ultan. Donnacha Ryan will be a huge loss. He is a man who works a double shift every game.

So sorry to anyone I have offended. But sorry means nothing without restitution. There's a pint for you in John B's, Michael. But only after the game.

Irish Independent

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