Wednesday 23 May 2018

Walking wounded rugby heroes put on a brave face for the children

Jason O'Brien and Louise Hogan

IRELAND's walking wounded rugby stars yesterday put on a brave face for the children as they assessed their weekend trouncing.

Plodding along on crutches in Dublin's St Stephen's Green yesterday, Ireland fullback Rob Kearney looked unlikely to evade the attentions of passing pensioners, let alone opposing rugby internationals.

Similarly, a few hours later, in yet another shopping centre, captain Brian O'Driscoll, was, in his own words, "a little deflated".

It was a sorry sight, at the end of a sorry 48 hours for Leinster player Kearney, and Irish rugby in general.

"I'm all right," Kearney said. "Disappointed obviously, as it's never nice to get injuries but hopefully I'll be back on my feet soon enough.

"I'll be out for three-to-five weeks."

The reigning Grand Slam champions have a couple of days off to lick their wounds before those who played in France meet up again in Cork tomorrow. There was little chance for O'Driscoll to sit back and contemplate where it all went wrong at the weekend, as the queue of fans spiralled through Dunnes Stores at Cornelscourt shopping centre, in Foxrock.

He was quick to turn on the charm -- and patience -- as he signed everything from weather-worn rugby balls to, unusually, a box of the breakfast cereal, Cheerios.

"I've never signed a box of Cheerios before," the slightly baffled rugby star said.

He stopped short of signing actual flesh.

"I don't think permanent marker should go on skin," he told an excited teenager, arm bared expectantly, at the hour-long signing.

He also declined to sign a little girl's pretty red woollen coat for fear the retribution from her onlooking mother may match the kicking from the French.

Toddlers -- 15-month-old Liam Kearns and his two-and-a-half-year-old sister Ellen -- were bribed with biscuits as the rugby-mad family from Dalkey waited almost two hours to get their small jerseys signed.

"Last year they did extremely well, this year it is still all to play for," said their optimistic Dad, Enda.

There was little sign of the blow O'Driscoll took to his left knee, but he did remain sitting for the hour-long signing.

It has already been confirmed 23-year-old Kearney won't be part of the team that will attempt to get back to winning ways against England at Twickenham on Saturday week.

A scan on Sunday confirmed he strained his medial ligament in his right knee.

Walking wasn't much of an option for Kearney either yesterday as he was in St Stephen's Green to help launch Kellogg's 'Fun Raise 4 Kids' campaign in aid of Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin.

Irish Independent

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