An interesting summer lies ahead for Leinster & Ireland, writes Keego…
So here we are. The season is finally over. What are we going to do for the summer? Go outside? Interact with people outside of twitter and facebook? Surely there is more to life…….
The season finished with a double bang! The Amlin was safely tucked away into the trophy cabinet after a mammoth performance against Stade Francais in the rds. This was the first trophy I have seen Leinster win and it was very classy for the players to allow Sexton and Isa to lift the trophy. It was equally as classy for them to turn to the team while raising the trophy. That sort of team spirit is in short supply in rugby.
Then it came to the big one. The Rabo Direct super pro Magners 12 league final against Ulster. This was the one we wanted. After being beaten twice already this season by Ulster we really needed to show them what champions are made of.
Then my amazing inability to read a calendar and organize my life meant that I was in the studio recording music, while you were all in the RDS screaming your faces off. I was in the middle of recording a guitar track when I got the text from 10 people at the same time. Leinster had won. I am not too macho to admit that I shed a tear mid take. Even thought I wasn’t there it was very emotional because I had been there for 2 losing finals. I knew what it meant to the team and to the blue army.
I have since watched the game and you guys were amazing again. Ulster on the other hand is starting to get a touch of the Clermont’s. They appear to not be built for the big occasion. They wilted against ‘Quins in the Heineken Cup this year, along with wilting against Leinster in the Heineken final last year. They did try to come back this year in fairness to them, they were allowed back into the game, but as Omar from the wire says ‘When you come at the kings, you best not miss’ and Ulster missed 2 opportunities to bring them back into the match but they bottled it. On top of that the amount of pressure that has been put on Paddy Jackson this season has been far too much. He is retreating in every single pressure game in the white and green jersey. The summer holidays and tour will be great for him. He is a class player, but needs time. The leaders in the Ulster team need to step up.
So what is on the horizon for next year? New coach, a lot of players exiting the d4tress. Some players are leaving after not being able to live up to their potential, while others are leaving for family reasons and one is leaving because of short sighted mismanagement of the highest order. Matt O’Connor will bring new ideas from Leicester, a winning Leicester team. He will also need to bring in some players in the off season. The academy players eventually stepped up this season when there where leaders on the pitch, they may be better for it, but Leinster still need some enforcers and some experience.
It will be an interesting summer for the blue army.
As we near the end of this week’s blog, I would like to say cheers to King Joe for the years at Leinster. He has been more than immense and has taken a great team and turned it into an elite team. His affect was such that our greatest player is staying for a year. Well, it was Joe and us screaming at him. You know how annoying it is when your wife shouts at you to take out the bins, imagine 18,900 people screaming at you.
Cheers to Jonathan Sexton for his service in blue. This is a strange one as we all know he wanted to stay. He was put in a position where he had to stand up for himself. That is the Leinster spirit. We will welcome him back in a couple of years.
And finally, ISA ISA ISA ISA. What a man. What a legend, and what a stalwart of Leinster rugby. I have seen him take down players that outweigh him by stones, I have seen him side step younger and quicker players. And I have seen him raise the Amlin trophy. There will always be a pint waiting at the bar for Isa.
Enough of the sappy stuff. It is on to the Lions. The first tour I watched properly was 2009 against the ‘Boks. It was great to watch. I hope some of you will be able to give me some knowledge so I can say it to people as if it is my own. The first team has been named, and it looks like we will have a lot of Irish in the test side. Heaslip, Healy and Sexton (who will always get game time) are in the squad with Paul O’Connell as captain. I think they will have to change it to the Irish and some British Lions.
As usual, feel free to debate/abuse/discuss this post with me on twitter @nkeegan. For more of the same then roll over to www.thedailyclothesline.com and to hear the tunes inspired by the Leinster victory last Saturday then try www.soundcloud.com/DiabloDC
Until next week??
Keego (@nkeegan): Blogger, former professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.