Grief and Me

Grief and Me

Spurred on by an article I read last night on grief, I will try and explain how grief has affected me in the last few years. I have to admit first off the worst instance of grief hit me was in the days following my grandfather’s death in 2014, I never experienced anything like the feelings I had following his death.

Losing my grandfather affected me to such an extent I almost ended my life around a month after he passed away. People are great in moments when you need them but pre 2014, I would never have opened my mouth about things that bothered me, a shock for those who know me but yes Cian Mc Gibney was stuck for words. Sadly 2014 wasn’t to be the last time I’d be stuck for words.

Anger, frustration and the feeling of being constantly tormented were just some of the feelings I felt, and the little voice in the back of my head telling me I could have done more although I was there every step of the way through his battle with Alzheimer’s. I did all I could but it took a few years for me to realise that particular fact.

For people who haven’t experienced any significant loss in life and for those who have I know what you are going through, to those who haven’t lost somebody treasure those moments with the one’s you love because as I can testify it can all change so suddenly and you may not get the chance to say what you need to say. What I am trying to say is grief has affected me more than I will ever let on, the veil of fun and humour has returned but I know now how to control how I use the veil.

2 years on and I still find myself wondering what the hell happened that evening in September 2016  and what can I do to move beyond it which I am doing in a very measured way. I know I seem to be very distant and cold at times when things are tough but that is just the way I approach those situations. I need time to think and evaluate what occurred and that why I may seem distant and cold on occasion.

Humour has been a saving grace for me a few times but for those people who I snapped at or who I may have given the cold shoulder to in the months following Mam’s death , I sincerely apologise. I am not like that usually but in those tough moments I need my own head space and then slowly I will come around and begin a healing process. I am still in the middle of the sea of grief at this moment in time and will be for another while yet.

Grief doesn’t move on after the 1st year even though, some people say in that uniquely Irish way of putting things is that “time is a great healer” etc… Yes this is true but it doesn’t mean that on the stroke of the end of the 1st year that the bag will come out and you can suddenly box off your feelings.

I have had to face up to the daily routine of on occasion re living those fatal final moments and yes in time they have begun to fade away and lessen but they will never fully leave me. And that in essence is grief, it will begin to fade but never fully leave your mind.

I do treasure the good days but I also beat myself up about the days that weren’t as good as they could have been but that is the way life works , if it was all a bed of roses it would be fairly boring. I have changed as a person in the last two years, it might not seem like to most people but I have changed beyond all recognition and for the better I hope.

Stress, anger and frustration now comes and goes very quickly because I am able to spot those subtle changes in mood and combat the feelings that may begin to surface. I am a stronger person for the losses I have had to bear in the last couple of years.

I genuinely though after Mam died, I’d end up in a heap and struggling to manage even the smallest task but from somewhere deep inside I found the strength to kick on and move on with life. Life is very different now but again life doesn’t stand still for anyone and everyone will face the tough days but it really is how you bounce back and recover that will define you in life………

Joe Schmidt Departs Post 2019 World Cup

Schmidt Departs Post World Cup 2019

Joe Schmidt has confirmed he will leave his position as Ireland Head Coach after Irish involvement at the 2019 World Cup ends. He has been head coach since 2013 after a successful spell in charge of Leinster having replaced current Australia head coach Michael Cheika in 2010.

He will be succeeded by his current defence coach Andy Farrell who will take over as Head coach from late 2019 until his new deal which he signed last season ends in 2021.

Before that Schmidt was brought to Europe by Vern Cotter as Clermont Auvergne attack coach from 2007 to 2010. He has overhauled how the general public views rugby in his time as Ireland head coach. His professionalism and appetite for work and trying to achieve goals has been a sight to behold.

Now that he has made his position crystal clear will mean that Ireland can fully focus on the challenge at hand of defending the 6 Nations title and trying to better their recent results at World Cup’s.

All the questions about whether he will stay or go will now cease and he can enjoy a few days off before the job will begin again of trying to plot a successful conclusion to his time in Ireland. He has been an incredible addition to Irish rugby over the past 8 years firstly with Leinster and latterly with Ireland.

Yes the 2015 World Cup didn’t go to plan but he has done well in correcting that failure in building squad depth and delivering a Grand Slam, a Series win in Australia, defeating New Zealand twice in 3 years after 28 unsuccessful attempts until November 2016. He has achieved way and above what would have been expected when he was given the job in 2013.

He will be succeeded by Andy Farrell who has been his defence coach since 2016, this will be a first Head Coach role for Farrell who has been an assistant coach with England and the British and Irish Lions. Who Farrell will have in his coaching team will be very interesting due to the fact that Greg Feek will also leave his role as Ireland’s scrum coach after the 2019 World Cup.

He was replaced in the scrum coach’s job with Leinster by John Fogarty who Ireland may look to move into the job that will soon be vacated by Feek. We have less than 12 months to get used to the idea that Joe Schmidt will leave Ireland after the 2019 World Cup.

Also will there be a play for a man like Ronan O Gara who will have completed his 2nd year with the Crusaders to form part of the new look Irish coaching team, Simon Easterby who also signed the same length of extension as Farrell last year. He will most likely be retained by Farrell. Only time will tell though.

These are interesting times for the IRFU, Farrell has a period of time to learn a few more bits and pieces from the master and then it will be Andy Farrell in charge post World Cup. Joe Schmidt will now plan for his final few months in charge and see what will happen when the 6 Nations kicks off in early 2019.

He has a job to do so you can be sure we won’t have repeat of all that went with the retirement of Brian O Driscoll in 2014 when every last moment was documented and marked. Here’s hoping that 2019 will be a year to remember for all the right reasons….

O Neill / Keane Era Ends

O ‘Neill / Keane Era Ends

So the Martin O Neill / Roy Keane tenure as the Republic Of Ireland management team has ended after 5 years and 1 appearance at the 2016 European Championships. For around 4 years of their tenure everything was go very well and although after the 2016 European Championships where Ireland played some very open football and achieved some good results defeating Italy after a draw with Sweden and although Belgium comfortably beat Ireland , Ireland went into the next round to play hosts France and were beaten 3-1.

Things have gradually gone downhill. Openly questioning the ability of some of his players in public, never a smart move in any sporting organisation, looking to his assistant Roy Keane who came on board but seemly offered very little in the tactical approach of this Irish team.

Martin O Neill has had a strained relationship with the media in his 5 years at the helm , having a few set two’s with RTE correspondent  Tony O Donoghue after a few games and not liking the fact his style of play was being questioned. He has had a few issues in recent times, like the situation with Declan Rice and Michael Obafemi who won his 1st cap on Monday evening against Denmark in Arhus.

Looking to the positives from his 5 year tenure, an appearance a major Championship has to be seen as a positive. The failure to make the World Cup will be seen as a black mark on the O Neill / Keane copybook. The distinct lack of a real playing style will also be viewed as a issue that dogged the 5 year tenure.

Since the 5-1 defeat to Denmark the change in formation to a 3-5-2 from the rigid 4-4-2 style he adopted in his first three years in charge smacked of desperation and yes Ireland do not possess the technical players that the likes of Spain and Germany have produced in the last 10 to 15 years but we do have players who are willing to work hard and if allowed they can pass the ball from A to B also. Not rocket science in the modern game.

The main issue for the FAI will now be who to put in charge before next March when qualification for Euro 2020 begins. Some are saying Mick Mc Carthy who left the job after the 2002 World Cup, Stephen Kenny’s name has also been mentioned but the fact he has only managed in the League Of Ireland and a short spell in Scotland may count against him although his achievements with Dundalk in the last few years cannot have escaped the notice of the FAI.

A man like Chris Houghton who currently is in charge at Brighton might just be a bold but popular choice with players and supporters alike. He has done good work as a coach and manager and has also played 57 times for Ireland always a handy bartering tool to have when it comes to negotiations.

Others like Brendan Rodgers, Neil Lennon and a few more names will be included before the FAI make a formal announcement whenever they see fit. Like the IRFU if Joe Schmidt was to indicate he is leaving after the 2019 World Cup , the FAI cannot rush this decision and will need to tread carefully in there interview process.

The FAI also need to come up with a plan of how it plans to work and function over the next few years so the grassroots understands what is required of the next generation of players coming through.

The issues of player eligibility need to be addressed also, we don’t need another Declan Rice situation although I suspect we may have a few more similar scenarios before it all gets ironed out. FIFA also needs to pull its socks up and really clear up this gray area for all nations not just Ireland.

The FAI has a big decision to make in the next few months, so John Delaney and the FAI Board need there thinking caps on and make the correct call for the good of Irish Football…..

The Honey Spike

The Honey Spike

So another hugely play was staged by the Tarbert Theatre Players over two dates in Tarbert Community Centre and then over four dates in St Johns Theatre from last Thursday to last night ( Sunday) to packed houses each evening.

This play was penned by Bryan Mc Mahon and tells the story of the Claffey family from who travel from Kenmare in the South to the Giants Causeway in the North of Ireland and back to Kerry so Breda Claffey can give birth in her favoured Honey Spike ( Hospital ).

The play was directed by Mary Lavery Carrig and had a big support crew with people like Trish Griffin on lighting , Helen Enright took on the Sound department with the help of Jack Mulvihill , Eithne Griffin was in charge back stage with Maura Mc Dermott taking up a new role this year as Costume and Make up manager , the set management was controlled by Johnny Block Mulvihill and Danielle Considine. Maureen Considine played the part of MC and this author played a small role as Front Of House.

What the last few months have shown is that hard work and team work do make a winning combination and those two aspects have helped bring this play back to life. This play follows on from the staging of Diarmy a few years back.

The Cast had some new faces this year with people like James Enright , Sean Carrig and Les Pledge coming on board alongside some more familiar faces like PJ Normile , Yvonne O Keeffe Fox and Tom Stack. The Cast numbered 18 in total and that is tough to marry all the different personalities but they managed it perfectly and delivered 6 wonderful nights of entertainment to full houses.

The Tarbert Theatre Players will take a well earned break for a few months and who knows they may be back in 2019, We will just have to wait and see……

The Full Cast was :

Narrator/ Sergeant O Brien : John Dowling

Breda Claffey : Yvonne O Keeffe Fox

Martin Claffey : PJ Normile

Mickle Sherlock : Tom Stack

Poll Poll Sherlock : Priscilla Donovan

Meg Mc Cutcheon/ Traveller Women 3 : Trish Healy

Horan IRA Man : Padraig O Connor

IRA Man 1/ DickeyBird : Shane Wall

IRA Man 2 / Shone Mc Queen : Cormac Wall

British Army Officer : Les Pledge

British Army Sergeant : Sean Carrig

British Army Private : James Enright

Midland Housewife : Niamh Wall

Franciscan Monk : Gerry O Connell

Winifred Mc Queen : Noelle Mc Gibney

Michael Anthony Mollumby : Thomas Mulvihill

Traveller Women 1 : Helen Enright

Traveller Woman 2 : Angela O Connor

Support Crew :

Front Of House : Cian Mc Gibney

Set Manager : Johnny Block Mulvihill , Danielle Considine

Costume / Make Up : Maura Mc Dermott

Back Stage Manager : Eithne Griffin

Sound Manager’s: Helen Enright / Jack Mulvihill

Lighting Manager : Trish Griffin

Director/Producer : Mary Lavery Carrig

MC : Maureen Considine

Ireland Vs New Zealand Review

Ireland Vs New Zealand Review

So for the 2nd time in the Joe Schmidt era Ireland defeated New Zealand 16-9 on Saturday evening at the Aviva Stadium , the first time Ireland have beaten New Zealand on home soil. Some will see this as a marker for the World Cup in 2019 and while it is a good barometer, we have been here before and the results at World Cup time have not matched up to the results and good performances of the years leading into a World Cup but that result on Saturday seemed slightly different and could just be the key moment leading to the World Cup.

The game on Saturday was again like most previous games against New Zealand, tough and uncompromising but even before a ball was kicked Ireland started to show something different by advancing on the Haka, even though it was only a small step forward , they said to New Zealand today is going to be different.

It turned out that way and for only the 2nd time in 30 attempts Ireland downed New Zealand but on this occasion New Zealand’s media cannot say that there famed All Blacks were missing key men because they were in a position to select a strong XV with only Sonny Bill Williams ruled out through injury. Steve Hansen has now stated that Ireland are the “number one side” in World Rugby, it is a lovely sentiment but not true because New Zealand are still the World Cup holders.

Getting to the game, Ireland went out with a similar game plan to recent times where they strangled New Zealand at the break down and even though New Zealand constantly slowed down Irish ball by having at least two bodies collapse on the ball as Kieran Marmion was trying to release the ball to  Jonathan Sexton and further out along his back line.

At half time, the penalty count was 9-1 in favour of Ireland and yet even though the penalty count was so high against New Zealand , Wayne Barnes did not reach for his pocket even after what seemed like a professional foul from Sam Whitelock where he slapped the ball downward to deny Ireland the chance to build an attack.

Even though Rob Kearney may have also seen yellow for his challenge on Reiko Ioane, Barnes deemed it to be a fair contest in the air and nothing was awarded. You could again see how far New Zealand are willing to push the boundaries on the field of play.

The try to that would eventually see Ireland home along with the conversion from Jonathan Sexton was converted by Jacob Stockdale who scored his 12th try in 14 games for Ireland that is a terrific strike rate although his defence still needs work but that will come in time.

It was a move we have seen before in the win over England back in March, were all the moving parts need to be on the same page and that was the case on Saturday when Stockdale chipped over the defence and chased his kick down then he re gathered his kick on and despite the despairing tackle from Aaron Smith he used his momentum to crash over for the vital score.

The Irish performance was full of purpose and men like Peter O Mahony , James Ryan , Devin Toner and Rob Kearney stood up and were counted. Guys like Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose and Keith Earls did very well in defence. This was one of the best single performances in recent times by Ireland.

The key now for Ireland is to make sure that all this good will and momentum is carried into the Six Nations of 2019 and then try and surpass the past results at World Cup time. That will be the tricky bit and after this November schedule is complete this weekend after the game with the USA , we will then wait to see what will Joe Schmidt do next , will he sign a new deal or indicate he will move on after the 2019 World Cup. Only time will tell and this is a situation he will need time to sort out before making an announcement.

It’s the USA next on Saturday evening and then no matter the result, it will be full steam ahead to defend the 6 Nations title…. That is the way Joe Schmidt will want it and who are we to argue…..

Ireland Vs New Zealand Preview 2018

Ireland Vs New Zealand Preview

Ireland play New Zealand in their first fixture since 2016 when Ireland broke their duck vs. New Zealand in Chicago before New Zealand empathically answered back two weeks later with an extremely physical approach in Dublin that saw them claim a 21-9 win in a game that will be remembered for two big hits on Robbie Henshaw by Sam Cane and a high shot on Simon Zebo by Malakai Fekitoa.

Neither incident was deemed worthy of a yellow card or red card but both incidents will be remembered by all in the Aviva that evening. To be fair though New Zealand can look to tackle by Jonathan Sexton on Beauden Barrett right on half time in the same game so both teams had the right to be aggrieved by calls in that game.

Fast forward two years and Ireland are just off the back of a Series win in Australia and a Grand Slam win back in March. Ireland are now officially 2nd in the pecking order of World Rugby at this current moment and the game this weekend won’t change the rankings but will give Ireland the perfect barometer of how far they still need to go to be serious challengers in 2019 in Japan.

It will be very interesting to see where Joe Schmidt will go with team selection  , will he recall Devin Toner and what way will his back row look with the news that Sean O Brien will again be out for an extended period with a broken arm. Will Dan Leavy hold the 7 jersey or will Josh Van Der Flier be included.

Also after three auditions at scrum half who will get the shout to partner Jonathan Sexton at half back, will it be Luke Mc Grath who is his partner in crime with Leinster , will it be Schmidt’s trusted lieutenant Kieran Marmion or will John Cooney get the nod only time will tell to see where Schmidt will go with team selection.

New Zealand just got over the line last week in Twickenham winning a tight game 16-15 where a 65th minute penalty from Barrett saw them home after Sam Underhill had a try chalked off after Courtney Lawes was caught in a offside position in the build up to the Underhill try.

Steve Hansen has heaped praise on Ireland in the build up as have a few of his players but knowing how New Zealand operate , one suspects they are only paying lip service to Ireland , 1 win in 29 games is all the evidence needed  to prove that little fact.

Joe Schmidt has prepared Ireland to face the country of his birth 3 times and his record is win and 2 defeats, not a bad strike rate and you can be sure he will try and put another win in the winners column this weekend.

The game is a last chance to test themselves vs. the best in the World before the World Cup. Looking to the team he may select Injury will rob him of two potential starters in Conor Murray and Robbie Henshaw but with these injuries the opportunity is there for guys to put the hand up and fight for a first team place.

Can Ireland win this weekend, of course they can, I doubt the Silver Fern holds the same fear and trepidation it did before victory in 2016. Joe Schmidt has coached this side to fear nobody and that will need to be the mantra this weekend as Ireland really get a chance to tell World Rugby that they will go to Japan and break down barriers never surpassed before like making a Semi Final but before that dream can be chased an opportunity to inflict another defeat on New Zealand.

Time to step up to the plate guys and write another piece of Irish rugby history to be in the 23 that defeated New Zealand for the first time on Irish Soil…….

Here is the 23 I would select if I had to pick the squad to face the World Champions ,

15 Andrew Conway

14 Keith Earls

13 Gary Ringrose

12 Bundee Aki

11 Jacob Stockdale

10 Jonathan Sexton

9 Luke Mc Grath

8 CJ Stander

7 Dan Leavy

6 Peter O Mahony

5 James Ryan

4 Tadgh Beirne

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Sean Cronin

1 Cian Healy

16 Niall Scannell

17 Jack Mc Grath

18 Andrew Porter

19 Devin Toner

20 Josh Van Der Flier

21 John Cooney

22 Joey Carbery

23 Will Addison

Katrina Parrock Interview 2018

Hi Katrina, we first spoke in 2013 when your appearance as a Maor Uisce for Wexford during a Championship game sparked a unique response as to who was the mystery lady carrying water for them was….

Having won four Camogie All Ireland’s with Wexford, how did it feel to win the 2018 Continental Tyres FAI Cup in the Aviva Stadium which meant you completed a treble winning League, FAI Cup and Leinster Senior Cup medals, how did that feel after the win on Sunday ?

It was an amazing feeling.  It was so special as I had not played in the Aviva before and had been looking forward to it – then to come away with the win that’s what dreams are made of.

How did come to sign for Wexford Youths, what prompted the change in direction ?

 I had decided to take a year or so off from Camogie as I had found I had lost my appetite, there were days I went out and thought what am I doing!    My mam had been diagnosed with breast cancer and I continued playing so maybe that was the catalyst that made me evaluate where I was going.   So, my plan was to take time out.  But when it was announced I wouldn’t be playing camogie I was approached by the Wexford Ladies Football manager and the Wexford Youths manager to sign for them.    The rest is history, I decided that maybe a change of code was just what I needed.

What was it like playing in the Champions League earlier this year, can you explain the format of how the group phase was played as it was played over a week in Belfast ?

 The Champions League was such a learning curve from my perspective. You learn so much participating in such a prestigious tournament against professional teams.

The format was ten group winners and the two runners-up with the best record against the sides first and third in their section proceeded to the 17th August draw for the round of 32 to join the 20 teams given byes.  Wexford Youths were in Group 1 with Ajax (NED), Thor/KA (ISL) and Linfield (NIR hosts)

Having moved from GAA to Soccer, have you any future plans to move to any other sports ?

Not at the moment, I’m really enjoying my soccer. But I would love to give Rugby a go before my playing career is over. Just love the physical aspect of rugby.

Have you any burning ambitions you’d like to achieve while playing for Wexford Youths ?

 Retaining everything we have achieved this year and going further in the Champions league would be a burning ambition.



How do you find the change between different sports, did you find it easy to make the switch between one to the other ?

 I had always played soccer in the winter months to keep me fit for camogie -but not at the level of Wexford Youths.   I received an Ireland Cap for U19 when I was 16 but had chosen camogie at that stage.    The first year with Youths was difficult, the girls were streets ahead of me in fitness and skill level.  I worked hard to bring my game up and compete for a place on the team – I did a lot of gym work to get myself fitter and stronger.


If the chance to turn professional was offered like signing for a AWFL side in Australia like Cora Staunton has done and others, would you consider the move ?

 I don’t think so but never say never.   I’m a bit of a home bird


How do you like to relax and get away from Sport ?

 I don’t think I relax much.   I love gardening, so I find that relaxing even though it can be physical.    I like walking and have recently got more into hill/mountain walks.   We have an amazing country and its lovely to get out there and enjoy it.  Of course being in Wexford surrounded by beaches I love taking the dogs down for a run.


Who are the people you to for support when times get tough on the field of play or in life ?

 My mam & dad, my brother Kieran & sister Sinead, my grandad has such a wise head and gives me great advice   My best friend Roisin is always there for me, so I have a wonderful support system.  My team mates we are such a tight knitted unit (family) and are always there for each other.


Who were your heroes growing up ?

 Una O’Dwyer Camogie Player Tipperary

The Rock

Paul Scholes

Have you any plans for the future ?

I am hoping to apply for the garda in their next recruitment drive.



Thanks Katrina for taking time out to chat with me… All the best in the future….

Letter Of Support

I have been asked to write a short piece about my battle with suicide and depression. I have struggled over the years with a battle that has been fought mostly in my head. I have always felt not good enough to be on this earth.

Three times I have contemplated suicide and on one occasion I was very close to following through on the promise of actually going through with my suicide plan. Only for my Mom figuring out there was something wrong with me and asking a relative to call me to see could he find out what was wrong with me.

I went to my grandparents home that evening and wrote 10 letters saying goodbye to groups of people. I sat there watching the Ireland women’s rugby team play England and contemplated life because only a few weeks earlier I lost my grandfather.

I felt totally useless as I sat there thinking about my next move which I thought was to throw myself off the pier down in Tarbert Island. Then the phone rang in my grandparent’s kitchen and it was a cousin of mine who claimed to be looking for my uncle but I found that very strange as my grandfather had just passed away and when you need to contact my uncle you call his mobile and not the home phone.

This call proved to be the call that saved my life because had that call not happened I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this piece.  I have battled with the demons in my head over the last 14 years and continue this battle on a daily basis.

Since September 2016 life has been very different that was when my Mam passed away and it took me the best part of 6 months to get my head straight to try and comprehend what had happened. In January of this year I started counselling and after 7 months of counselling I felt strong enough to step away from counselling and see how I could get on coping on my own.

Yes I have the support of my family but I still struggle on a daily basis with what happened on that faithful evening in September. The battle in my head has returned and has come back with vengeance but thankfully after 7 months of counselling I have the coping skills to recognise the signs of when things are getting tough and I know when to take a step back.

My reason for writing this short piece is to tell people that even when times are tough it is ok to stand up and say things are not ok. I spent far too long trying to deal with issues however big or small on my own and that particular way of doing things nearly cost me my life. Thankfully things have improved for me and I am on the way back…

When you see someone that may look like they are in need of help reach out to them and ask them how they are , the chance to talk and get it off their chest may just be the release valve that person needed…

This was written last year (2017) as part of a campaign. I still struggle with my mental health from time to time and even with the coping skills I have learned and the skills to notice the signs when things may get tough. I still need help from time to time.

I try so hard not to burden people but it really does help to be open and honest. I am always available to others as a listener or to help with some advice…. To anyone struggling at the moment, never forget your never alone although it may feel like it at the minute , always remember to seek out support. I am trying to use this advice myself in daily life.

Always remember It is ok not to be ok…..

Ireland Vs Argentina

Ireland Vs Argentina

So Ireland returned to Soldier Field this weekend and defeated Italy 54-7 in the middle game of the now yearly rugby festival that takes place in the USA. Yes the opposition would not really persuade your casual rugby fan to switch on or travel to Chicago to take it in like the New Zealand fixture of two years ago.

This game was about fine tuning the planning for this November Series and also trying to give some of the less experienced players in the squad meaningful game time when there are now after this weekend only 11 more games before the 2019 World Cup.

It took Ireland until early in the second half to take control of the game and they showed true ruthlessness that will be needed to surpass the exploits of the last few World Cups where a quarter final has been the furthest Ireland have managed since the first World Cup in 1987. They scored two quick fire tries to gone from 14-7 up to 28-7 up inside the first 7 minutes of the second half. That type of ruthlessness will be needed more and more over the next 12 months.

Ireland still need sharpen up in defence and defend as a unit on occasion but some of the performances from men like Jordan Larmour who scored a hat trick of tries and Tadgh Beirne were great to see and Beirne has just gone from strength to strength since signing for Munster. Seeing the half back pairing of Luke Mc Grath and Joey Carbery gave us a glimpse of a future long term pairing maybe but of course Ross Byrne and John Cooney will have something to say about that you can be sure.

Ireland arrived back from Chicago in two groups this morning and will begin to prepare for the encounter with Argentina who are now coached by Mario Ledesma who after a spell in charge of the Argentine Super Rugby side Jaguares that yielded a semi final spot in Super Rugby at the first go meant the Argentina Rugby Union didn’t need to look too far for a replacement for Daniel Hourcade when he stepped down after the November Tests last year.

Ireland and Argentina have a history in the past 21 years beginning at the 1999 World Cup quarter final in Lens when Argentina beat Ireland and then in a group game in 2003 Ireland gained some revenge beating Argentina 16-15 to make a quarter final where they were heavily defeated 43-31 by France.

The game this weekend offers both sides the chance to step preparations for further tests this month with Ireland facing World Champions New Zealand the following weekend in a last chance to test themselves against the best before Japan 2019.

There is some chatter that Conor Murray may make a appearance against New Zealand which hasn’t been dismissed by the Ireland coaching ticket but still seems unlikely with Munster’s Pro 14 game vs Zebre at the end of November the more likely destination for the returning scrum half although he has been involved in the planning and plotting last week in Carton House with the senior group of players who didn’t travel to Chicago.

Joe Schmidt delayed his departure to Chicago until late last week to stay behind and work on some things with that senior group. His attention to detail never ceases to amaze people and that is why he has achieved so much since November 2013.

I will now try and select a team to face Argentina this weekend :

15 Jordan Larmour

14 Keith Earls

13 Gary Ringrose

12 Robbie Henshaw

11 Jacob Stockdale

10 Jonathan Sexton

9 Luke Mc Grath

8 Jack Conan

7 Josh Van Der Flier

6 Peter O Mahony

5 James Ryan

4 Tadgh Beirne

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Sean Cronin

1 Cian Healy

16 Niall Scannell

17 Jack Mc Grath

18 Andrew Porter

19 Iain Henderson

20 CJ Stander

21 John Cooney

22 Joey Carbery

23 Will Addison

My Disability and I

My Disability and I

I felt compelled to write on my experiences as a person with a disability that hasn’t affected my ability to live a normal life with a mild disability. For those who don’t know or didn’t realise I have cerebral palsy, it affects my left side and means I have to wear a leg brace until the day I die on my left leg.

It also means I do some things with my left hand that are a force of habit and I may also stagger when I have been standing for an extended period of time in one spot, It’s not drink related !!

It still amazes me that people don’t realise I have a disability or if they do they wait until I bring it up and then ask me questions about it. On one occasion I was walking past the Funeral home in Tarbert on the evening of a Funeral and there was a car waiting for the Funeral with two men in a car and one man wound down his window and asked about the Funeral and then as I answered and began to walk away he called after me and asked about my leg, I answered and called it an old war wound and walked on. Not bothering with the line of questioning from a person who didn’t know me from Adam.

People who know me have never asked about it unless I bring it up and when I do people seem more at ease speaking about it or other things. If you have a question and not just the usual line I get which is “I spotted you were walking funny alright, dragging your leg a small bit “please just ask instead of waiting for me to say something.

I have never let it get in the way of me living my life. It was suggested from early on that I may be better off in a special school but thankfully that suggestion was immediately turned down by my parents and thanks to the Enable Ireland Services in Tralee which I spent 18 years with and the work of all my teachers in National and Secondary School in particular Mrs. Coolahan and her husband Mikey Joe who along with my parents put extra time into me.

She also tells a story that I had the “Life of a Lord “because I had a unique ability to get others to do things I couldn’t do myself, namely Sean Considine , Andrew Flavin , Gareth O Connell and Shane Heffernan and even though we all left school 10 years ago I can still depend on these lads , which I appreciate more and more as the days go by. I still have that ability into my late 20s.

From a position where I was only given hours to live and was given the last rites due to complications during my birth which meant a shunt had to be put into my head to drain fluid from my brain and as I explained last night this machine no longer works and there was talk about 12 years ago to take it out but thankfully the decision was made not to do anything and I didn’t have to face another operation after a few in my early years.

To all who have helped in my 28 years on the planet thank you all so much, it is very much appreciated. I will continue to need assistance and I can be assured you’ll all continue to provide that much valued support. I’ll also try and find the mute button as well I promise…

I have never let my disability rule my life and I will continue not to let it dictate what I do in life……. And If you ever have a question about the way I walk or my mannerisms please just ask and I’ll happily explain my situation.