Friday 24 January 2020

'I attended the game with my family on a blustery cold day in November'

My Munster: Olive O'Connor

Olive O'Connor
Olive O'Connor

1. What was your first Munster Rugby match?

From what I can remember it was a game against Swansea in and around the late '90s in Thomond Park. I attended the game with my family on a blustery cold day in November.

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2. What Munster game sticks out in your memory and why?

The All Blacks in November 2008 at Thomond Park will live long in my memory. The noise was insane as the crowd rose to cheer Rua Tipoki, Dougie Howlett, Jeremy Manning and Lifeimi Mafi's Haka and then you had the respectful silence as the All Blacks then moved forward into their own Haka.

3. What current Munster player do you look forward to watching?

I am looking forward to seeing how Neil Cronin progresses. He plays in my favourite position of scrum-half and I think he is a very exciting prospect for the games to come, as he is quick-thinking and spots a space in the eye of a needle.

4. Describe the most memorable Munster score you've seen?

To me nothing compares to the drop goal Ronan O'Gara scored against Northampton in November 2011. We were losing the match 21-20 with only a few minutes left on the clock. After 41 phases Denis Leamy passed the ball out to Ronan who slotted it between the posts to claim a wonderful victory.

5. You're given a blank cheque to sign any player in the world. Who would it be?

I would love to sign Auckland Blues and New Zealand player Rieko Ioane. He is only 22, but he recently scored nine tries in 10 Test matches. I think he is a massive prospect for the All Blacks in the future.

6. Earliest rugby memory?

I remember sitting down at home with all my family watching the great Irish teams of the '80s with players like Ollie Campbell, Hugo MacNeill, Michael Kiernan and Gerry McLoughlin. These players are still household names to this day.

7. Where do you sit or stand in Thomond Park?

I travel to all the Munster games with my sisters Carmel, Audrey and my niece Kellie. We are season-ticket holders and are in the West Stand for all of Munster's games - PRO14 and Champions Cup.

8. Which overseas player that represented the province is or was your favourite?

Dougie Howlett. He was such a versatile player, being able to play wing or full-back. He is the seventh highest try-scorer in history and the top try-scorer for the All Blacks.

9. What is your favourite away ground?

Kingsholm Stadium in Gloucester would be one of my favourite away grounds. I have some great memories of visiting there and singing along with the Gloucester fans in their famous Shed. They are wonderful fans and we always have a good time when we go there.

10. What player from another Irish province do you admire?

I really admire James Ryan from Leinster. He is a fantastic player and is a solid player in the second-row for Ireland and Leinster. Every game he plays he gives a top-class performance and will wear the green jersey for Ireland for many years to come.

11. What is your favourite Munster jersey and what does it remind you of?

The old Bank of Ireland jersey would probably be my favourite as it invokes memories of previous players like John Hayes, Peter Clohessy, Alan Quinlan and Paul O'Connell wearing it with pride while trudging through mud baths on their way to victory.

12. What team in any other sport other than Munster Rugby do you follow?

I am an avid Limerick hurling fan and after 45 years of disappointment we finally brought the holy grail back to Limerick last year. A day I will cherish forever.

13. What game in Munster's history would you love to go back to and attend?

I would love to have been at the Munster v All Blacks game in 1978 where Munster defeated the mighty All Blacks 12-0. It would have been some memory to have actually been there in person to witness such a great victory.

14. You have one wish for Munster this season. What is it?

My one and only wish for Munster this 2019-2020 season is to finally win back the Heineken Cup that we last won in 2008. We have stuttered at the last hurdle for the last few years and it is time for us to step up again.

15. Invite three Munster players past or present to dinner. Who would you bring?

I would invite Ronan O'Gara, Peter Clohessy and Alan Quinlan. The stories and the craic they would have would be fantastic. They would bring plenty of stories, true or otherwise, to the table and would keep me entertained for hours.

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