My Paris Adventure
My Paris adventure began last Tuesday week, which saw this author travel to Paris for the World Cup semi-final between Ireland and England. The excitement of traveling to Paris for this particular World Cup meant so much to this author because I have grown close to a number of the players in the current Irish squad which made my trip that little bit more special. So off I went with real hope in my heart that Ireland could progress to a first ever World Cup final.
Alas this was not to be and Ireland were ruthlessly dispatched by an England team full of purpose and driven by three previous World Cup final defeats. They put Ireland under severe pressure at scrum time and also in the line out. Even though Ireland took a 7-0 lead after 15 minutes they failed to capitalise on the early pressure and went in 18-7 down at the break. Emily Scarrett the England inside centre led from the front and kicked the crucial score just before half time that saw England stretch their lead from 15-7 to 18-7, a lead that Ireland could not encroach upon and they went on to be beaten by 40-7.
While this was not the result the Irish team or support wanted, they still had to try and prepare for a 3rd/4th place play off against hosts France who were beaten by Canada in the 2nd semi-final. So I had a few days to kill before Ireland would return to battle against France at The Stade Jean Bouin the home of Stade Francais.
What would an Irish man do to pass away a few hours, I travelled down the Champs Elysees and also saw the Eiffel Tower which in my opinion looks far more impressive than the Spire that we have in Dublin!! I was also on a number of occasions mistaken for a British person, which on the first occasion is ok but around the 5th or 6th time begins to ware on you.
One of the most interesting conversations I had on the whole trip actually took place in the line waiting to board the plane to Paris. I as I usually do struck up a conversation with the woman standing in front of me in the queue and as we got talking she informed me that she was indeed travelling the same way as yours truly and going to see could Ireland create history and make a first ever World Cup final.
This lady’s name is Jackie O Brien an ex Irish International in two codes. She has 13 caps for Ireland in both Rugby and Football. Not a bad achievement at a time when the rugby team had to pay their own way. It could cost up to €4000 to get yourself sorted for one season. That money paid for gear like socks, shorts, boots and jerseys.
Can you imagine asking some of our finest athletes like Roy Keane and Brian O Driscoll to pay for their own gear, I doubt you can!! The reason I took an interest in the story is the fact that while Jackie has a cap to commemorate her 13 caps in football, she does not have the same in rugby. This led me to stand there dumbstruck to be honest with you that someone that has been capped 13 times would have to pay for the honour to get her hands on a cap. That in my humble opinion is really wrong.
I don’t care where you come down in this particular argument, If you get capped in any sport the least you deserve in recognition for that honour is a cap that you should not have to pay for. I have promised Jackie I will get her that cap at some stage in the future.
So after all that, it was onto the rugby again, a game against France to be played for either 3rd or 4th place at a World Cup not to be sneezed at. They went into this game sort on confidence after the 40-7 defeat against England. But they did not show any fear and led at half time 15-12, thanks to tries from Niamh Briggs and a great solo effort from Grace Davitt. Unfortunately they could not sustain this and again the scrum faltered when they needed it most. They were beaten 25-18.
They can be proud of their achievement and their 4th place finish. Phillip Doyle and his coaching staff have brought this side from nowhere to 4th place at the 2014 World Cup. A great achievement. To Fiona Coughlan who retired after 85 caps , Gemma Crowley who saved my bacon on the day before the semi final with a ticket that I will forever treasure. Also to Maz Reilly , Niamh Briggs and Siobhan Fleming , I salute you and your amazing achievement. Thank You All for making this young journalist a happy man.
Cian Mc Gibney.