THE FIGHTING IRISH
23 Marta 2009
0h me, oh my, what a weekend! GRANDSLAM. GRAND BLOODY MAGNIFICENT GRAND SLAM. And then Bernard Dunne. SLAM. SLAM !!!
What a weekend for Irish sport.
I only got interested in rugby this last ten years or so and even now I don’t entirely understand all the rules. But I don’t understand Tiddley Winks either and if Ireland was in the Tiddley Wink Final I would be out there, my country right or wrong, supporting our team. So it was with that I settled down before the TV on Saturday last to cheer on the lads.
Of course rugby isn’t Tiddley Winks. At the risk of offending Tiddleywinkers, it’s much more exciting that that. I’m a Gaelic sports fan myself, though I believe all sports are good.
Soccer, with the honourable exception of Geordie Best, and Ireland under Jack Charlton’s leadership, is a bit pedestrian for my taste. Hurling or Camogie is your only man; with football a close second, and handball bringing up the rear. But rugby? Well rugby gets my vote and Saturday’s game in particular.
What a match! What a team! It was brilliant, brave, sporting drama of the finest kind. And to top it all we won!
This blog thanks everyone involved with our team. You did us proud.
I’m not a great supporter of boxing. It’s too rough for me. When I was a wee lad one of my cousins, Dominic Begley, was a fine amateur boxer. He took me with him some times. I wasn’t much good. I was always worried about getting my glasses broken. I need not have worried. They got broken anyway. We boxed on the Shankill Road where I learned to keep my guard up and how to say tsss tsss tssss in a sort of a hiss as you shadow boxed your way around the gym.
Boxers like Sugar Ray Robinson and Floyd Patterson, and closer to home, John Caldwell and Freddie Gilroy were my heroes. I was delighted to meet Rinty Monaghan one day when I was a teenager and I love Mohammed Ali to this day and Cassius Clay before him.
It was Long Kesh put me off boxing. Somebody organised a tournament one time. Just the once. Whether it was the prison or the day that was in it but the sight of normally friendly sensible guys trying to seriously hurt each other – or taking all their frustrations out on each other in a very serious way – that was me and boxing finished.
Of course real boxers learn discipline and rules of the game. Real boxers aren’t like my friends, the Long Kesh maulers I suppose……. Are they?
Big Rogie, Martin Rogan to his friends, is certainly not like that. Rogie is a Commonwealth Champion, heavy weight division, and a fine Irish gentleman to boot.
So is Bernard Dunne. Rogie is from West Belfast. Bernard is from Dublin. He trains here. And on Saturday night all that training paid off when he became Super Bantam-Weight World Champion in the 11th round of a really hard fought, indeed a savage bout against Ricardo Cordoba the plucky defender from Panama.
In fairness to the Long Kesh tournament if they had been Long Kesh pugilists their battle would have been called off before its eventual rip roaring and bloody finish. But they weren’t in Long Kesh.
And Bernard won. As he said himself he won for all of us. And so he did.
So thank you Bernard and the Irish Rugby squad. And big Rogie.