Wednesday 23 October 2019

Billy Keane: Good to see Generation Joe making all the right mistakes

Bundee Aki’s try was cheered loudest by all of us who measure Irishness by deed and not by birth. Photo: Sportsfile
Bundee Aki’s try was cheered loudest by all of us who measure Irishness by deed and not by birth. Photo: Sportsfile
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

We are on top of the Six Nations now and every game day is a national holiday. This is the spring of the Six St Patrick's Days and the six no longer long Good Fridays.

But Scotland are better than Wales despite that first-game annihilation and that means we are in for another tense occasion in Dublin 4 in 12 days' time.

I saw a woman eating one of those fake nails on Saturday. The nail was purple and pointy at the top. Too dangerous it was to scratch your back with it, or pick your nose, not that anyone does that any more. But I'm just saying. The poor woman's teeth will be worn to the gum. Our nerves will never stick this.

Joe was right yet again. He knows teams who grow old together end up together. Think Kerry's Golden Years and the once-mighty Irish soccer team who were robbed by Thierry Henry and were annihilated in the Eastern Euros of 2012. Maybe Joe was talking to Jim Gavin.

The young and the inexperienced won it for us. For sure they made mistakes but their enthusiasm, love of the jersey, courage, pace , skill and strength transcended the odd premature dash from the thin green line or the occasional lapse in concentration.

Jacob Stockdale and Chris Farrell are two young sons of Ulster marching to the Dodder. The Ulster supporters are hurting bad these days. Stockdale's tries brought glory to Ulster and Farrell, who is with Munster now, was man of the match in his first Six Nations game.


It's not that long since Stockdale was having his Liga mashed by mammy at snack time. Farrell went off to Grenoble in France to learn his trade under the expert eye of Bernard Jackman who trained The Wild Geese to fly solo. Farrell was all over the pitch and worked more jobs than an emigrant trying to get a stake to come back home.

Farrell is 1.93m tall and his weight is 100kgs. I'm an Imperial measure man and have no idea what this reads in feet, inches, stones and ounces. At least they left the pint alone and the furlongs still measure distance in horse racing.

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Good big men are better good small men, except for Earlsey who could chop down a beanstalk with one of them blunt plastic knives they give you on the plane.

Dan Leavy was another of Generation Joe who had a mighty game. His try was well deserved and he was first, furious and steadfast at the breakdown.

Andrew Porter is the youngest prop in the Six Nations. He was right up there in the loose and his scrummaging was excellent. John Ryan came on and won a penalty in front of the posts.

Bundee Aki's try was cheered loudest of all by all of us who measure Irishness by deed and not by birth. Maybe his nickname from now on should be Greenheart. James Ryan carried like O'Connell. He will captain Ireland some day.

The crowd responded. The etiquette of sports was adhered to. Nearly all of the fans were in their seats for the arrival of the teams on the field. The Aviva was full for the singing of the three anthems.

The supporters have come a long way since the shameful day when most of them missed the Irish team coming out on to the field to play England. There were more gaps back then than at an early-morning lecture during Rag Week.

The up-and-downers are still coming to games. One "as I roved out" was wearing clothes with lads playing polo on the front. He walked up and down the stairs with the hair combed high like the line of grass growing up the middle of a less travelled country road. There was a bottle of lager in his hand and he was looking at people to see if they were looking at him.

If ye want to be seen, take a walk down Grafton Street. If ye want a picnic, bring a few Tayto sandwiches wrapped up in silver paper, and don't be annoying the rest of us during the game.

Yes, Generation Joe did well. They made mistakes but I was reminded of the story of the time poet Brendan Kennelly sent on some of his work to Con Houlihan for his opinion. And Con replied, "Brendan, you are making all the right mistakes."

Not one Irish player played badly. Devin Toner eclipsed Alun Wyn in the line out. He pulled the duvet over to his side of the bed on more than one occasion.

Jonathan Sexton made the right mistakes. He missed a few kicks. Any time you see a ship over the back wall, there will be wind. Jonathan did have a twinge in his back and it changed his routine ever so slightly. His wides were inches away. The best 10 there is showed the full range of his skills as a running out-half. He ran the game with and without the ball.

His team were too busy congratulating each other when he took the quick penalty even though Joe pointed out they were warned to be ready at half-time. Only Conor Murray moved on from the love-in.


Murray is as good as women at multi-tasking.

Scotland will fancy their chances. I'm hoping the beating of England was their All-Ireland.

Scotland were another country who didn't vote for us in the World Cup and none of the naes have had a day's luck since. Their fans were disgusted by the behaviour of the Scottish Rugby Union who put the promise of money before decency and fair play. I hope their alickadoos are fed second-hand chicken, broccoli and a corked Chateau Tuesday left open since Christmas Day.

In the meantime, not a word about Grand Slams. We must focus solely on the beating the Scots. One day at a time and all that.

And those who practise mindfulness tell us we should never wish our lives away, but I do wish it was Saturday week.

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