Wednesday 17 January 2018

Billy Keane: Ireland must learn from old testaments to begin next epic

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

Life is a journey and we are all related. Most of us, it seems, are descended from just a few hardy souls who travelled from Africa to Europe over a period of thousands of years.

I'm sure this discovery must have come as a great shock to the racists. Most Irish are Africans. In fact 10pc of us Europeans can claim direct descent to a woman now named as Europa. We are all related and therefore we are all mad, which explains everything.

Hitler, a racist and a lunatic, failed to fight a war on two fronts, but we will. This is a big weekend for rugby and GAA, on and off the field.

The GAA court, the 'Four Cs', dealt with the fallout from the Derrytresk-Dromid Pearses game speedily. Huge credit due there, but we will never be in a position to assess if their decision to ban half a parish is correct, as journalists are not allowed in to the proceedings.

We are not sure either if the woman who struck Declan O'Sullivan with her handbag has been sanctioned.

Sources claim that our fashion columnist and Kerry footballer Paul Galvin -- the Derrytresk woman's handbag designer -- is in big trouble. Paul has been banned for six months for his part as an accessory...

Dublin play Kerry under lights tonight in Croke Park. I suppose you could hardly expect them to play in the dark.

Kerry have picked a few young lads and that's no harm.

In fact both sides will be missing key players. Dublin will see this as a lap of honour. The champs will get some welcome and it is vital the officials are strong enough to take on the role of party poopers if need be.

It will be interesting to see how much time is added on for the Stephen Cluxton runs up the field for frees. Only Usain Bolt or Hurricane Run could have completed Cluxton's gallop in the time allotted by the referees in the All-Ireland semi and final.

No doubt Kerry will clap the Dubs on to the pitch and rightly so. It's too early to talk about revenge. That has to wait until the Fall. In football, revenge has to be eaten hot.

The result isn't that important tonight. It's more about blooding new players and assessing their abilities before a big crowd in Croke Park. The GAA planned this brilliantly and the capital will be packed for one of the best sporting and tourism events of the year.

Ireland play Wales tomorrow and there is an element of payback in this one for the World Cup. The consensus is that Wales cut down our back-row runners in the quarter-final and that cost us. I disagree. We lost because the bigger Welsh backs ran through us.

There were also a couple of crucial lapses of concentration at 10-10. As a result the Welsh scored a very soft try.

No one seems to have picked up on the fact that Wales had effectively a two-week break and we had six days with a bit of travelling thrown in so soon after a savage forward battle against Italy. Tomorrow the odds are in Ireland's favour.

The only way to get over a big defeat is to win the next one. In victory is redemption. Sounds like a line from some Old Testament tale of murder and mayhem. All sport is epic and the lessons learned from old testaments must be heeded.

Wales will run everything in the hope their excellent handling skills and spontaneity will make this game into and unstructured free-for-all. Jonny Sexton will control the game for us. He has learned so much on a short voyage. It takes about 25 caps to figure out international rugby. Sexton hits that mark today. And what of his friend Ronan O'Gara? Born in San Diego he is now a deity in Cork and beyond. An incredible human journey. And his father is a genetics professor in UCC.

The Irish players are all in good form. If we can win this one it sets us up nicely for the season. One game at a time and all that, but Ireland do have the most settled squad in the Six Nations.

Donnacha Ryan doesn't start but he will make an excellent impact sub. Having spent so much time on the bench as an understudy, he's mad for action and his mobility could be a game changer. Peter O'Mahony is a direct descendant of those fiery Munster No 7s who fed on and bled all over the opposition.

We have an excellent back-row and the fact O'Mahony is on the bench will really get them going. If this lad gets on, they will have some job shifting him off the team. He has to keep the head, though, and remember the golden rule for all those who live on the edge is not to fall off.

For some the journey begins and ends in their own small place. Derrytresk and Dromid will tell you that. The route we take and how we handle the obstacles put in our way define us. Ireland must play through and around the Welsh roadblock.

The beauty of it all is the unpredictability of the travelogue, but I expect our boys to fight their way through to victory and so set us nicely on our way to God knows where.

Irish Independent

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