Congratulations to all last weekend.

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Mar 232009

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.

Mar 182009

I’ve had this in my head for the last few weeks but had forgotten about it until I was subtly reminded by someone on Monday night.

I have to apologise to Brian O’ Driscoll, And I mean it.

I have been saying for quite some time that he needed to be dropped for a game or two, and I meant it at the time. I thought that it was the only thing that would bring back the hunger for the game that he appeared to have lost over the last couple of years. I was wrong. Obviously there was another way to deal with this and Declan Kidney seems to have found it. That’s why he is the coach and not me or anyone else.

There has been a massive change in our Captain over the last few months, A reinvention. His game has improved, his agility is back, his step has returned, the hunger is back, he is leading from the front the way he used to be. The difference seems to be the new manager, and I think that he has to be commended for his work in turning this “Golden era crew” back into a team rather than the traditional back-line from Leinster and the half-backs and Forwards of Munster with the odd Ulsterman stuck in for effect.

Whatever fears anyone may have had about the ability of Declan Kidney to get the Leinster backs to work with him have now been put squarely where they belong, consigned to the skip.It is now team Ireland and thank god for that.

The only question that remains is why it took so long, but that’s in the past, we move on.

Good luck to all this weekend, as Hooky said last weekend “A grand slam is this teams destiny.”

Croke Park: Ireland V England Ticket Draw

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Feb 232009

Injured Players Fund Ticket Draw:

The Injured Players fund draw took place in the clubhouse after the game on Saturday. With IRB Elite referee George Clancy drawing the tickets (Ensuring total impartiality…) Bruff President Willie Conway announced the winning tickets. Thanks to the great efforts of Joe Guiney and his team on the finance committee combined with the sales talents of the players, we managed to raise over €5,000 for the very worthy injured players fund. Well done to all concerned in running the draw.

Prize winners as follows:

1st Prize: Paddy Noonan, Elton. (2 Stand tickets for Ireland V England, Croke Park)

2nd Prize: Robert Stewart, Mount Charlotte, NCR, Limerick (2 Stand tickets for Ireland V England, Croke Park)

3rd Prize: Mary Britton, Clonmel. (2 adult and 2 youth tickets for Munster V Connacht)

Ticket Draw: 6 Nations, Ireland V England, Croke Park, Sat 28th Feb 2009

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Feb 182009

The Ticket draw for the above game took place at the club pavilion, it was carried out by Seoirse Clancy, PJ Deady and Ger Foster.

Tickets will be distributed on next monday and tuesday nights (23rd & 24th Feb) between 7:30 and 8:30 pm.

Any tickets not collected at this time will be immediately reallocated to facilitate distribution to those on our waiting list.

The remainder of our tickets have been allocated to our Gold members and Sponsors.

The following members were successful in their application:

8                308
9                310
10                311
13                313
14                335
19                339
20                345
48                351
57                359
58                361
59                362
63                366
67                367
68                374
73                383
90                384
96                393
97                405
103                408
105                413
106                426
110                430
111                431
130                436
139                445
166                446
211                452
212                453
219                458
221                462
224                481
225                482
228                486
238                495
243                499
244                521
245                522
247                548
251                553
252                554
259                555
263                558
264                559
273                573
279                574
281                579
289                584
305                586
306                591
307                603

Feb 132009

What can you say about John Hayes that hasn’t already been said a hundred times over in the last week.

If there is one man that you can honestly say that Ireland and Munster could not have done without or had no replacement for over the last 9-10 years it is the rock solid John Hayes. Ever since I used to meet him on the training pitch in Kilballyowen twice a week when he started all of those years ago (I’m guessing about 4 or 5 stone lighter), a fit, thin whippet that we stuck out on the edge of the scrum for his first game, that I was able to lift in the lineout back then (when it was illegal to do so, but only if you got caught), we here at Bruff have watched his career grow from strength to strength. From the move into second row, Joining Shannon U20 as we had no U20 team that year, Thanks to Kynan McGregor, the move about as far south that you can go on this planet and the return as a Prop from Invercargill. All of a sudden he shot into the limelight with that famous start against Scotland almost 9 years ago to the day and everyone in the country finally saw what we had known all along.

There were a few surreptitiously wiped eyes around the clubhouse that famous february day and the crowning moment for many was the sight of a Bruff flag and banner flashed up on the big screen in Clarkes. John had made the big time and Bruff RFC was being carried along with him. While we had had a few younger players on international schools teams, Under 18 and Under 20 squads, this was our very first Senior International  player and by heck were we proud of it. Even though at this stage he was playing full time with Shannon and Munster, he never forgot where he came from or where he started and in the few scarce interviews that he did over the years, he never failed to let everyone know just how it began.

John’s career blossomed, Munster Heineken Cup glory, Irish Triple crown glory and a Lions jersey followed. He’s just about to match the all time record for Irish caps, and going well will break the record for the greatest number of 6 Nations starts of any country before the end of this campaign.

We, as you probably know, have had our own successes, Under 20 All Ireland league winners and losing finalists in the space of twelve months, quickly followed by three Munster Junior league wins out of four. The tense final moments on the phone in Garryowen Green, praying and willing for the game between Clanwilliam and Nenagh to finish. That fateful jump to Senior on the third attempt on that fateful day in Coleraine, Where we cried, we couldn’t watch, the Northern lads put on a great atmosphere but we were too tense to enjoy it. This was followed by surviving the famous first year in senior rugby. John came back to his roots, to the place where it all began. This was quickly followed by being crowned champions without being promoted, followed again by last years absolutely fabulous season, which now sees us in Division 2. We wanted survival this season. We’ve accomplished that already and God knows how it will finish up this year.

Folks, while it’s been one hell of a ride for us, we can be extremely proud of the man they call “THE BULL”. The Cornerstone of Munster and Ireland, hopefully on Sunday, they will finally give him that elusive “Man of the match award”, although it’s highly likely that he wouldn’t do the interview, that’s just the type of man he is. While I’ll never forget the row in Keatings into the wee hours with Chick, Scoby, Dunnser and Ger Whelan over whether we would be better off in Munster Junior 3 for a season to regroup, little did I know back then where the future would take us.

Thanks you John for many many happy moments, and we know there’s more to come. Keep carrying that pack as long as they need you.