Monday, March 10, 2014

Keego on…Brian and Brilliance

There’s the good, the great, the legends, then there’s BOD, writes Keego…

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Well that was emotional wasn’t it?

Not only was it a great team performance where each member of the match day squad put big shifts in to get a big win. The great man set up 3 tries and looked 25 again. He made passes that most mortals wouldn’t even dream about making.

The whole country was watching Brian O’Driscoll’s last game in green in Lansdowne. A place where he has given us so many memories and to have him perform at the same level he performed at while in his ‘prime’ was great to see.

Some members of the rugby press had written O’Driscoll’s rugby eulogy after the English match, placing the blame for the loss squarely on this and Darcy’s shoulders. These journos where so far off the mark it was worrying and whilst I am sure this was never in the heads of our centres, they both threw the negativity back in their faces.

After O’Driscoll was left to run out by himself, and for him to join captain Paulie for the photos with the mascots, Ireland started slowly. Strongly but slowly. The tide changed when Conor Murray went off, he was sick apparently, and Eoin Redden came on. Redzer grasped his opportunity with both hands and was immense all day. Over 120 passes were made, and he wasn’t on for the full 80. Ireland didn’t kick much ball, so Redden had his hands on the ball a lot more than he would have in the last 2 games and he took advantage. Ireland had 78% in the first half and 83% of possession in the second half, so this was a team going for the win, going for the points and ready to put Italy to the sword.

Ireland where clinical and relentless. Exactly what we wanted to see. I am sure this was partly charged up by the emotion of the day, they were never going to let BOD leave with anything less than a big win. Whilst remembering that this was Italy. An Italy team with nothing to play for, Ireland still looked like world beaters. No other team in the competition this far has put anywhere near the points on Italy that Ireland did on Saturday, a sure sign that we are on the right track.

The big thing for me is that the whole entire squad is putting in big shifts. As the Rock used to say, everyone ‘knows their role’ and are performing with a clear understanding of what that role is.

Now, moving on to next week. It is a trip to Paris to take on a French side that look so bad that it is unbelievable that they nearly (and should have) won the last world cup. Believe it or not, this is why I worry about this French team. They cannot be as bad as they where against Wales and Scotland. Just like any fighter in the UFC we need to train for the best France ever. This is what King Joe will be doing all week; this is what the team will be doing all week.

The opening 20 minutes will be huge. If we can boss the French in the set piece and keep going forward we can win for the third time in a billion years. The emotion can carry on for 7 more days and we can beat the once invincible French.

Back to the greatest Irish sportsperson in history.

It is great to be a great player in your chosen sport. That is rare enough, but it is even more rarefied air to be a great human being. If you look at any other sport, the greatest players are disastrously flawed. Just look at Maradona and George Best, 2 geniuses of the game, 2 players who made bad decisions and had many more downs than ups, who couldn’t control themselves. Not the best role models. But here is Brian O’Driscoll, one of (if not the) best players to ever play the game. And you could walk past him on Grafton Street. He doesn’t hide behind agents or bodyguards; he doesn’t have an inflated opinion of himself. If anything, he needs to be a bit cockier ;).

He is a great example to anyone playing any sport. Hard work, class and even more hard work will always pay off.

And if you doubt that, Brian O’Driscoll has league titles, Heineken cups, triple crowns and a grand slam to show you that will change your mind. That and a soon to be in the back pocket, 6 nation’s title.

I toasted Brian’s last match in green in Lansdowne from the couch with a hot brew and a tear in my eye. Cheers for the memories, at the end of the season you can go be a father and husband.

But you and the team have some work to do in the meantime !

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.

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