Tuesday 23 January 2018

Myopic Munster fans a blight on old rivalry

Keith Earls of Munster holds off Leinster's Cian Healy during the last meeting between the provinces earlier this month
Keith Earls of Munster holds off Leinster's Cian Healy during the last meeting between the provinces earlier this month
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

"Drink their blood" was the best one I came across in my time, followed by "disembowel the f ... ..s" in second, with "they tried to (censored) our sisters," third and a would be winner, but for the fact some of the lads didn't have sisters.

These are, of course, a selection of dressing room and pitch side exhortations. The last one is easy enough to follow, but the other two came from men who had a strong background in the classics and vampire movies.

This Leinster-Munster rivalry is beginning to annoy me. It has gone too far and has Tom Tommed off in the wrong direction.

A Pale (but interesting) friend told me he was in a pub in Limerick where many of the locals were cheering for Harlequins against Leinster.

I truly love Limerick -- you all know that -- but the old polarity between the different rugby clubs in the city seems to have infiltrated the Munster psyche.

A Limerick person will never tell you someone is a doctor, or a Fianna Failer. You will be identified as Shannon, or Crescent, or Garryowen, or Bohs, or Munster and that, in itself, will tell the initiated all they need to know about your background.

The rivalry has undoubtedly upped the quality and intensity of the game, but the slagging has ricocheted in every direction like one of those trick bouncing balls. The hop balls were fleeting and quick-fire, but now, with the internet, comments are permanently on record and are easy accessed by the opposition.

Indeed, the 'net' is the last refuge of the know-all luder, who can get no one to listen to him in the pub.

I can't handle the crowing after beating Leinster. If you want to motivate the opposition, there's no better way than by poking fun at them, or by belittling their efforts. Yes, there were Leinster men who got soft caps. Yes, we had selectors, all now dead, who were as useless at picking as men hunting for periwinkles when the tide was in.

Munster and, in particular, Shannon were bitter and rightly so, but times have moved on and while we may disagree with certain selections, there is no bias.


Munster fans will agree when I say the deranged comments of a minority, who hide behind hoody web aliases, are to be abhorred and believe me when I say such statements do not reflect the true feelings of us Munster fans.

We have no idea who posts the comments, for all we know they could be double agents, but there's no better way of getting Leinster psyched up.

There's no harm in a bit of banter and even when you get knocked, the posts can be hilarious -- just like this one: "The Cork hurlers are back on strike and they won't give up until Brian Cody resigns" -- but it can go too far.

Now Jonathan Sexton happens to be my godson and God help us, he plays for Leinster. Don't blame the young lad -- he was born in Dublin and being very young at the time, he had no say in the matter.

His dad, Jerry, is a Kerryman, a schoolboy international and a past captain of beloved Bective. Jonathan's lovely mother, Clare, loves Ballybunion and Listowel. His uncle Willie played for Ireland, Munster, Garryowen and Listowel Emmets when it was both unprofitable and dangerous. Jonathan got into a bit of bother against Munster, but it wasn't actually his boot that made contact with Mafi -- so easy up on him.

I am very fond of the young lad -- now that the godchild is in the money, he sends me on a good few quid every week. He is a big Kerry football fan and I know how much it would mean to him to play in Croke Park. I hope too, if he does get a run, he will score five tries, a drop goal from inside his own parallelogram and still end up on the losing team.

We are all mixed up in the melting saucepan that is this little country. For me it has never been a question of being against Leinster -- I'm just for Munster.

Those of us who cheered on our Grand Slam heroes in Cardiff didn't care what province the winners came from; indeed, there was a spontaneous singing tribute in Thomond last Sunday when the Munster fans reprised Tommy Bowe's greatest hit -- 'The Black Velvet Band'.

And that brings us to the last reason for being nice to Leinster -- the bookies have it completely wrong and Leinster do have a chance. The All-Ireland semi-final will be some battle.

So, let's go easy on Leinster just in case they flay us with our own words.

PS: Pride of the Parish gives a superb insight into the love of place that has made the GAA what it is today.

Check it out on RTE 1 on Fridays at 8.30, but don't forget to go to your local afterwards. Things are very bad. And good luck to my pals from Tullamore in the Towns Cup Final. No better boys.

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