Friday 23 February 2018

Let's show name on our jerseys is still ireland

My Uncle Eamon cycled through Church Street in Listowel and rang his bell like he was auditioning for the part of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'. As he pedalled, he was shouting out at the top of his voice "the Germans are coming, the Germans are coming."

WWII came to Kerry. Men ran to turf sheds for pitchforks and sickles. Ponies were moved to the wood -- it being a well-known fact that the Germans love horse meat.

Women offered up novenas and withdrew long pins from tea-cosy hats. My grandfather Bill lit his pipe. His next-door neighbour, Alophonsus Sheehy (fondly known as Alla), declared that he would never serve a German soldier in his pub and Mr Moran took the muzzle off his cross dog.

Now, the IMF are really on their way, but so too are the All Blacks and I'm not sure of whom we should be more afraid.

This is not a drill, for us anyway, but for the All Blacks it probably is. As for the IMF, it reminds us of back when we were offered money by an aunt for sweets and the standard reply was: "Ah no auntie, ah no, ah stop." But then you took the shilling as you knew you would from the very beginning.

We'll take one game at a time and this evening, we will have to face the might of the greatest rugby playing nation of them all.

There was a template when Munster tore into the Aussies on Tuesday at Thomond. It was raw courage allied to hands that were as sure as a mother with babe in arms. Ireland's handling has been truly horrific this autumn. The courage comes as standard with this team. Let's go back to the Boks game. We ran them very close at the end and that was after giving away two soft tries and dropping more balls than a juggler tossing eels.

Ronan O'Gara's kick for Tommy Bowe got us back into it and that brings us to the selection of the out- half. I think Declan Kidney was right to pick Jonathan Sexton. I have a conflict of interest. I'm getting sick of declaring it at this stage, so from now on take it as read.

Ronan is probably the better kicker, but Jonathan is faster and stronger and will be better suited for what will be a very open game. The All Blacks know very little about him. Dan Carter can't even remember Sexton playing in the Heineken Cup final; even though Dan was at the match. That will change when the first tackle goes in.

The All Blacks will run from quick line-outs and, if you are sitting in the front-row, will you for feck sake keep a hold of the ball until the chasers come on the scene. Tell Hosea Gear it's your ball and you're not letting him play with it.

The All Blacks have been very careful not to give the Irish any PR ammo, but their official website forecasts a 20-point win for New Zealand. Ha ha, caught ye there lads. Ye are not as cute as ye think.

Alarm clocks will go off all over New Zealand at six in the morning, their time, in anticipation of a huge victory. We all know secretly the All Blacks think they will eat us this evening. Last time out, they upped the score against us quicker than the money-lenders who run the bond markets.

There's a subtle difference between arrogance and confidence. Arrogance is the tag an envious opposition place on your confidence. Confidence is based on what you know you are capable of. Arrogance masks a lack of faith in one's own ability.


The All Blacks are confident and it's the perfect state of mind for Test rugby.

Ireland, we are told by O'Gara, are lacking in self-belief. Ireland have been written off so much by now they don't need confidence. They have nothing to lose and that means no fear of failure.

The game will be played at a frantic pace, but there's a big but. The scrums take half the day and there are penalties and free-kicks at every second one.

Crouch, touch, pause, engage, are more like lessons in potty training. The referees in rugby issue more instructions than a wife who is going away with her pals for a few days. The lad we had against Samoa must have been a song bird in his last life. He never stopped whistling.

Ireland -- like most teams -- tried to get at the referee during the week by saying Richie McCaw breaks all the rules at the breakdown.

How, then, is it he has only been yellow-carded just once in 92 Test matches?

All I can say is I wish he was playing for us. Congratulations to him and Mils Muliaina on breaking the All Blacks caps record today. McCaw won his first cap here in Ireland and he is their leader. And if you want to win any game, you must best the leader.

Stephen Ferris is bigger than McCaw -- but I sometimes feel he does not realise he can beat the best if he unleashes his full power. If Ferris and the back-row gets the better of McCaw up close, it will start the rebellion. And how we crave good news.

The shame of the economics was bad enough, but there was worse. I was on my way home from Limerick when the hearse carrying the innocents who were slaughtered in Newcastle West passed by.

It was too much to take. I can never remember a worse week. Just to turn on the news was traumatic and demoralising. Sport keeps us going in such terrible times. Call it escapism if you like, but the way we play today and how we face up to the best in the world with courage and pride, will remind us that the name on the front of our jerseys still reads Ireland.

Irish Independent

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