First off, Congratulations to the fabulous Irish team who made history on Saturday last. John Hayes of course played the game of his life, (I know it could be said that I’m biased, him being a Bruffian an’ all but I like to think that I’m being reasonably objective) the man seems to just get better and better as he goes on. His work-rate around the field is just awesome. Hit after hit, tackle after tackle, even carrying ball like a young fellah on his first cap. The problem has always been to find a replacement for himself, the second rows and O’ Gara and I fear that this Irish team will suffer in the coming years until this matter is put to bed. Not that we wish him to finish any time soon, he’s playing far too well for that.
As I said during my “apology to Brian O’ Driscoll” last week , there is another changed man, back to the Drico of a few years back. He put himself about everywhere, put his body on the line and on Saturday again he put his head where you wouldn’t send your mother in law to score that try. He was again Captain Fantastic on the day and as I have already said the change in our Captain can only be put down to the Management squad. Finally Declan Kidney and his crew have welded together an Irish team playing for the jersey instead of a Munster pack and half-backs with a Leinster Backline and the occasional Ulsterman thrown into the mix. Speaking of which Tommy Bowe has improved immensely this season as well and even if Bestie got in O’ Gara’s way for a few seconds before the drop-goal on Saturday his contribution has been great this year.
The Parish Cardiac machines were put to good use all around the country I’m sure during the last ten minutes of the game, and the elation following that Antifreeze veined drop goal from ROG was quickly followed by absolute horror in the dying seconds waiting for Jones’s kick, again quickly followed by ecstasy when he missed. I’M SORRY BUT, I have to again ask how the last penalty was even granted at all. I know I keep saying this but the powers that be just have to clarify the situation at the ruck. The last penalty was awarded for playing the ball back on the ground (judging by the referees signals) but Paddy Wallace was one hundred percent standing on his feet and had come through the gate. In my opinion, following the letter of the laws he was fully entitled to do as he did but he could easily have been the villain of the piece after Mr. Barnes’s pinging. We have to get clarification and consistent application of the ELV’s once and for all when it is eventually decided what is and isn’t allowed to happen at a ruck.
After all that it must be said that these are definitely the golden days for Munster and Irish Rugby and hopefully the journey will continue all the way to Edinburgh in May, but of course we have the small matters of ¼ and Semi-finals to deal with first.