5 Years – Time Fly’s

So it is almost 5 years since I was called down stairs to help my father with my Mam. I am sitting in the exact same position, doing exactly the same thing scribbling away about some topic !! Weirdly the only thing that has changed is the laptop..

I had said I wouldn’t write another piece but I had a change of heart. In the last 5 years many things have changed in particular in the last 2 years where Covid 19 entered people’s lives and altered much of the things we took for granted to such an extent we were unable to do many of them for large periods of time but as I write certain dates over the next 6 weeks will see life slowly come back.

I can only imagine how the past while would have impacted on mother but knowing her character she would have managed, I would go as far as to say that we may have even ended up with a new house phone !!

Many times I have heard from people that I sound like you and I am really starting to realise this fact as I can actually hear you as I talk to people about certain things. I can’t believe this is the 5th piece I have penned since that faithful few days that will come into view from 6.40pm next Tuesday.

I have certainly managed to begin to say No more frequently and also I have found a backbone which you would be pleased about I am sure. The few final pieces of advice you passed onto me are truly beginning to be used and have proven so useful when I have sized up a situation in recent times.

The one thing I have learned over the past few years is to really appreciate each day and given how Mam passed away I can honestly say to people please don’t take the relationships you consider to be important to you for granted and tell the people that matter to you how much they mean to you. I didn’t do it enough when Mam was alive and if I am honest I still don’t do it enough 5 years on but I am getting slightly better at it.

As always to anyone that has lost anyone in the past 12 months you have my sympathy. I can also feel the “real” Cian is back and may be here to stay. To those people who reached out to me in the past 5 years and before then and of course who still do look out for me, I thank you all. I will never be truly able to thank you for the support shown to me when I was on the canvas.

Mind each other and support each other because as the past few years has shown how quickly the stuff we take for granted can be taken away without warning !!!!

Mam’s anniversary Mass is next Saturday at 6pm….

My British and Irish Lions XV vs South Africa in Test 1

Here is my XV to play South Africa in Test 1 of the Series next Saturday July 24th. Many challenges have been seen by this squad since they met up in Jersey back at the end of May. Covid cases, the chosen captain being injured against Japan in Murrayfield and then making a recovery to take his place back in the squad to play the Stormers this afternoon in Cape Town.

All players in the squad will have had the chance to show there worth over the last 3 weeks, some have had extra game time owing to some players being ruled out due to isolation periods. This evening is the final chance for players to stick a hand up and be selected for the opening Test next Saturday.

I will now select the XV I think will start Test 1,

15 Anthony Watson

14 Josh Adams

13 Elliott Daly

12 Bundee Aki

11 Liam Williams

10 Dan Biggar

9 Ali Price

8 Toby Faletau

7 Tom Curry

6 Tadgh Beirne

5 Maro Itoje

4 Iain Henderson

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Jamie George

1 Wyn Jones

16 Ken Owens

17 Rory Sutherland

18 Kyle Sinkler

19 Adam Beard

20 Hamish Watson

21 Conor Murray

22 Owen Farrell

23 Duhan Van Der Merwe

My XV vs Japan – 2021

15 Jordan Larmour

14 Shane Daly

13 Tom Daly

12 Stuart Mc Closkey

11 Robert Balcounne

10 Harry Byrne

9 Caolin Blade

8 Caelan Doris

7 Paul Boyle

6 Gavin Coombes

5 James Ryan

4 Ultan Dillane

3 Tom O Toole

2 Ronan Kelliher

1 Ed Byrne

16 Dave Heffernan

17 Peter Dooley

18 Finlay Bealham

19 Josh Van Der Flier

20 Nick Timoney

21 Craig Casey

22 Joey Carbery

23 Will Addison

This is the side I would select to play in the first test vs Japan on July 3rd. I know that injury may rule these players out over the next few weeks but this is the side I would like to see face Japan in the game in Dublin next month. These games vs Japan and USA are important to allow us to see some other players who will help shape Ireland’s rugby future…

Honesty and Me

I just felt compelled to write this down instead of using Facebook. I have to say if certain people were not there for me, I would have done something harmful.

I have reset the clock several times and after so much soul searching and trying to understand my bloody mind and the workings of my brain. I have to be honest and say I have felt like a burden to so many for a long time.

Maybe it is just me or something else entirely but in my mind I have to keep my mouth shut and just get on with living whatever life is there for me.

Life as I know it is very different and I am now coming to terms with this particular issue. Many people struggle in daily life for different reasons and for that I am so sorry and I hope you will find your way to happiness sometime soon.

Happiness is a state of mind and I hope to reach that place at some point but if I am truthful I am still a long way from that place. Life is wonderful and then life is crap but that is the circle of life and I hope that my idea to reach for the pen and computer will again happen. The burning desire has returned.

Happiness has been found, I always reach for the pen to help in this scenario and write down the tough things that are playing on my mind. I do find things easier now to write down and speak up for those who think they can’t speak for themselves.

My journey has been littered to this point with stupid choices and wrong decisions but I am getting slightly better at making sure I don’t make the wrong choices as time moves on.

The past 14 months has tested so many mentally, financially and physically but the human body and mind is fantastic at being pushed to the limit and finding a way to cope.

I have found my peace and I really hope for those who are currently struggling for whatever reason you too can find your peace from somewhere too…

 

 

 

Nicola” Hurricane” Hopewell

Hi Nicola, It’s great to have the chance to speak with you !!

 

Can you tell me how you started out in boxing ?

I started boxing just attending the boxing gym to get fit. I was age 23 when I started. I was quite active as a child and in my teens but from leaving school I quite dancing and sports and was desperate to get my fitness back and do something.

How have you found sorting out sponsorship over the last few years ?

Sponsorship is very hard. When I first started no one knew who I was so it was hard and then covid hit. Some businesses who sponsored for my first 3 fights are now struggling so I’m constantly looking for new sponsors to come on board.

What sort of diet do you follow when you are training for a fight ?

I follow a good clean diet. Lots of fruit, veg, carbs for fuel when training

Could you talk me through the day of a fight, what does the day look like ?

Fight day, I try and chill and stay calm as much as possible. I love my friends and family to contact me as it takes me mind off the fight until it’s time to get in the ring.

Having had a good amateur career, what prompted the move to the professional ranks ?

I started boxing the same people in the amateurs and I also wanted a new challenge and move to the next level

Would you say your time as a dancer was a help when it came to helping your movements in the ring ?

My dancing definitely helped especially with my footwork. I’m quite light on my feet and have good balance from my dancing background.

Away from training and work, how do you like to relax ?

To relax I love to go on walks, like ride, watch tv, days out with friends and family.

What would you like to achieve in boxing ?

I want to achieve as much as I can and I trust my manager with push me at the right time.

Lastly Nicola, to any young girls that might want to follow in your footsteps, what advice would you give them ?

To any young girls they need to believe in themselves and train hard. Nothing is impossible and if you train hard you can achieve your dreams.

Nicola, it’s been good to have the opportunity to speak with you, all the best for the future !!

Zebo Returns

The rumoured return of Simon Zebo to Irish rugby has been confirmed on a 1 year deal which has been co funded by the IRFU. He has spent the last 3 years with Racing 92 and arguably he will return to Munster a better player than when he left in 2018.

He also has a stated aim to break back into contention with Ireland and add to his 35 caps. His return is also aided by the news that Ian Costello will return and take over as Munster Academy manager from this July once his time with Wasps has come to a close.

Both men will return to Munster with better rugby knowledge than when they left in 2017 and 2018 respectively. It will be very interesting when Munster decide to employ Zebo as he has played both wing and full back while in Paris.

Munster has now assembled a string of back 3 options for season 21/22. It really is time for all that investment start to pay dividends.

Time is starting to run out for a certain section of the Munster playing squad with experience like Billy Holland and Tommy O Donnell exiting stage left.

It is time that Simon Zebo took on a leadership role within this group and with the emergence of the likes of Gavin Coombes, Thomas Ahern and Craig Casey the next crop of young talent will need steady heads within the playing group to help them bring Munster to the next level.

Ian Costello will need to bring the academy up to scratch in the next year or two as Munster will need to produce a few more players and he will need to cast the net wide to make sure they bring in the correct people through their system and underage teams.

There is a big job for Ian Costello to get stuck into from this summer onward and his time with Nottingham and Wasps should help him shape his vision for Munster going forward….

 

 

Lions 2021

Prop : Mako Vunipola, Rory Sutherland, Wyn Jones, Tadgh Furlong, Kyle Sinkler, Zander Fagerson

Hooker : Ken Owens, Ronan Kelleher, Luke Cowen Dickie

Second Row : Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones, James Ryan, Tadgh Beirne

Back Row : Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Tom Curry, Justin Tipuric, Toby Faletau, Billy Vunipola.

Scrum Halves : Conor Murray, Gareth Davies, Ali Price

Out Halves : Jonathan Sexton, Finn Russell, Dan Biggar

Centre : Robbie Henshaw, Owen Farrell, Garry Ringrose, Jonathan Davies

Back Three : Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Jonny May, Louis Rees Zammit, Liam Williams. 34 Players

Here is the 34 man squad I would select to face South Africa in this summer’s Lions Series. I know Warren Gatland has previously selected 37 players in 2013 and 2017. Selecting 34 players gives him the wriggle room if need be to bring a few players in through injuries, suspensions….

Well done to the coaching team Gatland has selected with Robin Mc Bryde, Gregor Townsend, Steve Tandy and Neil Jenkins selected as the men to help mould a squad to try a defeat South Africa who like in 97 and 09 go into the series as World Champions.

Six Nations 2021 Team of the Championship

15 Stuart Hogg

14 Louis Rees Zammit

13 Gael Fickou

12 Robbie Henshaw

11 Josh Adams

10 Dan Biggar

9 Gareth Davies

8 Toby Faletau

7 Hamish Watson

6 Tadgh Beirne

5 Alun Wyn Jones

4 Bernard Le Roux

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Ken Owens

1 Wyn Jones

This is my 6 Nations team of 2021, huge congratulations to champions Wales and to Scotland who won in Paris for the 1st time since winning the Championship in 1999…

The Head , My Battle

I have been thinking of writing about what depression has done to me over the last 17 years. I write this now as I feel bar the odd day and moment I am finally in a position to sit in front of a computer and write what depression did to me and how it impacted on me.

I spent many years hiding my feelings and trying to work my way through things without looking for support and then when I needed support without asking I got the support that I needed in the form of maternal instinct and a phone call.

It was amazing on that evening I remember clearly being asked was I ok and saying I was “grand” and then within a hour of that I was writing letters to groups of friends and family saying “goodbye” to them only for a phone call to interrupt my train of thought and then my Mam’s plan of action saved me so although she didn’t stop me from leaving the house that evening she knew what to do to make sure no harm came to me that evening, amazing what maternal instinct will do….

Spending so many years not feeling like I wasn’t worthy of a place on earth was extremely tough and having to smile for so long was torture when inside I was screaming with anger and frustration on many occasions was very hard on on people around me.

I didn’t deal with the deaths of my grandparents in 2011 and 2014 very well and that contributed massively to the spot I found myself in 2014. I know I always go back to that night in March 2014 because I have never experienced hopelessness like it before or since…

Then fast forward 2 a half years to 2016 and bang the shit hits the fan in a big way and the woman who helped save me in March 2014, passes away suddenly and I am back in the same head space I was in 2011 and 2014.

But from somewhere I found the strength to carry on a look out for others and put my own personal grief to one side. For 4 days I spent my days speaking to others and helping them assess what happened that evening. Since then I have an inner strength I never knew I could have access to and it has helped me kick on and make some key decisions about my life.

I have a better understanding of grief now and over the past 13 months since life as we knew it has ground to a halt due to Covid 19 and ongoing restrictions. This period has been so tough on so many and we are being told constantly to “hold firm”. There are brighter days ahead !!

I am writing about my own battle as I can only truly speak of my own experience and sincerely hope my few words can show those who currently feel like they have nowhere to turn that there is support out there, either through professionals, family or friends…

Having done the Ohana 20 minute course this has also given me a better understanding of the warning sides that impacted myself and some other aspects that never entered my mind.

What I am getting at by writing this is that if people are finding it tough at the moment, here is one major thing that has helped me, I have found writing feelings down was a big help to get the feelings down on paper and out of my head and mind….

I can say that after 17 years of feeling like I owed it to people to constantly prove myself that the time has come to look after myself and stop trying to constantly prove myself !!

CJ Stander Tribute

Maybe 3 or so years before I even thought I would writing a tribute to CJ Stander here I am, he has just announced his retirement from professional rugby when his current contract ends in June. He has made the decision to return to South Africa for personal reasons.

He has played over 150 times for Munster and will most likely win cap number 51 against England in Dublin this Saturday in the 6 Nations. He toured with the Lions in 2017 in New Zealand and was part of the squad in the drawn series.

He joined Munster back in 2012 aged 22, scoring a cracking try vs Glasgow in Limerick in the Pro 12 as it was then to really announce himself to the Munster faithful and has done every time he has pulled on the Munster shirt, Irish jersey and the Lions shirt in 2017.

He has shown incredible durability in the 9 years since he joined and has rarely not been involved in Munster squads since fully establishing himself when James Coughlan left to go to France.

He has played number 8 and also at Blindside Flanker number 6. The same consistency of selection has happened at national level with Ireland since his 1st cap in 2016. He has been a real leader for Munster and Ireland and has lead from the front for both teams in the past 9 years.

He can look back at his time in Ireland will real satisfaction and genuine fondness… He still has 3 months to go before he departs for South Africa. He will face Leinster in the RDS in another Pro 14 Final and then play Toulouse on April 3rd in Thomond Park in the last 16 of the Champions Cup injury permitting of course.

Time now to focus on England this weekend and then Leinster in the Pro 14 Final… Some big games ahead for CJ and his team mates…

Just a word to CJ and his family. I was fortunate to speak to Jean Marie CJ’s wife in 2016 about her own sporting career, her move to Limerick with CJ and more… Thanks to CJ for all the memories and let’s hope there is more to come before CJ departs the scene in June….