Sport Rugby

Monday 23 April 2018

Happy days will come again -- once we find stolen 'Strings'

BILLY KEANE

She turned the knickers drawer upside down. No sign. Gone. It had to be him. The husband. He robbed it for certain.

Leinster have always stolen what was rightfully ours. There were the raids by the Earls of Ormond out of Kilkenny in the 12th Century. The b*****ds robbed every in-calf heifer in Tipperary and Waterford. Now you know where the hurling rivalry comes from. At least we got our own back when we signed the mighty Ian Dowling.

Jonathan Sexton (right) should be playing for Munster. He's really a Kerryman. You hardly think he'd learn to kick like that in frigging Rathgar, where the council won't let small boys play ball in parks and the mammies give up breastfeeding the young lads when they are only seven.

phoned

I remember well when Sexton phoned with the bad news -- he's always Sexton on Munster-Leinster days: "I've just signed a contract with Leinster," he gushed. I suppose it could have been worse. He could have joined Rangers.

So what if he was born in Dublin? He might well have been conceived in Kerry. It all begins then. Birth is but a station on the way.

But we are here to catch a thief. The Munster girl asked for our help. It was her Leinster husband who stole the lucky red knickers. She knows it for sure. It's really more of a lucky thong.

Ah but it's old now and as much in need of mending as the nets of the naomhog fishermen who trawl off the Blaskets for whitebait piranha. It was her mother's until she grew out of it.

The mother wore it for the first time in Bordeaux on a sunny day at the beginning of the new millennium when we shocked Toulouse. She knew immediately it was blessed. A sacred vestment. Ah but how she shivered on those freezing, wet winter nights in the old Thomond. The silken lining around the main string is as eroded now as the teeth enamel of the chief tester in a bulls eye factory.

The chafing drove her mad in the clinging heat of Heineken Cup games in France. She couldn't ride her bike for a fortnight. But it was for the cause. The daughter took over 'the wearing of the thong' for that first European Cup final win against Biarritz in Cardiff.

When 'le petit general' snuck round the French flank for that famous try, she named the thong after him. 'Strings' it was and will be. Oh happy days, and we will see them again too if we find 'Strings.'

Before you ask. Yes, this is a true story and I'll gladly name names if the thong is not returned by match time.

He was alright at the start. Used to wear the red jersey when Leinster were useless. Then Leinster got good and he learned rugby off the TV. He knows it all now.

Now she can't even take a drink after the match. He made her pregnant. She swears she'll leave him if he gets one of those cutesie, bluesy, babesy growsies with Drico embroidered on the back. As if the baby could read and had eyes in the back of his head. Yes, the baby is going to be a boy.

"I'll give up my job," she says. "And go home to Clare. No way am I rearing a baby to play for Leinster."

She asks me to call him. I do. He swears his innocence and says it's all down to hormones. Hers.

As of now, on Friday afternoon, there is no still no sign of 'Strings.'

She was beginning to doubt herself such was the strength of his denials and the consistency of his story. He's not a bad lad other than on Leinster-Munster days.

And then he made a terrible mistake. Oh, but we men are thick and insensitive creatures. Do you know what the luder said? "Ah but sure you wouldn't have been able to fit into it anyway."

flowers

She presses the mute button. Then he tries to suck up by bringing her flowers. Coppiced by an elastic band. Out of a bucket. Wrapped in Panini paper. From the garage. Keep on diggin' Blue Boy. Keep on diggin'.

This evening, at tea-time she will become the 'Screamer' in The Aviva -- 50,000 will be there and her shouts will be the loudest and most ferocious.

But what if the unthinkable happens? What if Leinster win? In the car, on the way home, he might say to her by way of an invitation to parley: "Do you know what my love, I was just thinking, wouldn't it be lovely if we called the baby after your dad?"

"I already picked out a name," she says tersely.

"And what is it my pet?" as he gives her hand a little squeeze and sits up in his seat all ears and full of joyous expectation. "I'm going to call him 'The Claw'."

Irish Independent

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