Tarbert Theatre Players – Separate Beds

Tarbert Theatre players returned to the stage over the past two weekends with a comedy from the pen of Sam Cree, directed by Helen Enright. It was a return to thread the boards after a two year absence after they last put on “nobody is talking to me” back in 2022.

This particular comedy is based on the upcoming nuptials of the daughter of businessman Arthur Marshall (shane wall) who is trying his best to get the house ready for the festivities and to that end he is try manfully to get local painter Andy Crawford (Cormac wall) to try and get the house painted and in tip top shape but Andy seems pre occupied with his upcoming return to fatherhood for an 8th time.

He has a wondering eye and  is more interested in getting over time and time and half for very little work and a lot of fun. It has taken 6 weeks to get to nearly finished. Add to this the housekeeper Ivy (Yvonne O Keeffe) is constantly “merry” after many small ones and will regale you with many musical numbers a favourite being “wandering star”. She almost poisons Andy on more than one occasion after trying to top up the whiskey bottle with what she thinks is water but is in fact weed killer !!

To complicate the wedding, Andy’s wife is returning after a near 3 year period away and Andy’s new admirer Madge (ciara shine) is making it tricky. Clare Marshall (noelle mc gibney)  is an actress who has been on TV and likes a good time and playing games with her soon to be ex husband.

Judy Marshall (katelyn foley) is Arthur’s daughter and his hoping to marry Alan Rea ( james enright) and after a small fight that was almost the end for the new couple, they manage to find common ground and head up the isle. Alan’s mother (niamh wall) is a widow and thinks the Marshalls are still are a married couple

Local Reverand Gribble (jerry o connell) is hard of hearing and is quite forgetful and seems to think that it’s a christening he is officiating for rather than a wedding. He also seems quite good at getting a damp backside while cycling his trusty stead….

It is a well-constructed comedy that has a few hat tips to the local area, mentioning Tarbert Island and an ongoing strike. It was a debut for Helen Enright is the director’s chair and she can be proud of the efforts that herself and the cast and crew put in over the past few months to bring this comedy to life.

All 9 cast members were well matched to the parts they played and it has been well received by all audiences over the 5 nights. The hard work has paid off for cast and crew who can now take a well-earned break and who knows we may see the Tarbert Theatre players before 2024 ends or failing that we may see them back in some way in 2025…

Darkness Into Light 2024

This Saturday will see thousands of people walk from darkness into light. The walk will again take place in Tarbert with many people taking to the route from the Comprehensive school down the Island Road and then returning to the school.

I have written extensively over the past now 10 years of my own personal battles and the 10th anniversary of my first suicide attempt passed a few weeks ago. As I have spoken of, only for intuition and a phone call in March 2014, I would not be sitting here and that is why I write and speak so openly of my experience as I hope if even one person clicks on this and reads it and that may help them find there light bulb moment to seek out people they trust to open the conversation with those they love and trust.

I know I probably come across as cold and awkward on occasion but that is not the reality. I also know it looks I can’t shut my trap but this will come as a shock for many years I couldn’t speak openly or freely but all that has changed in the past 10 years.

Opening up and sharing has been such a saving grace and although doing it isn’t an easy thing to do for most people over fear of ridicule and being made fun of, but trust me when I say this, opening up will make things easier and people will do all they can to help and support you. I am sure there are people struggling with life, work or school at the moment and feel they can’t turn to anyone for help and support. We all feel like that and we all think we can face our issues single handily but again trust me, we can’t.

I did it that way for so long and in the end I almost killed myself with worry and stress over what others were thinking of me and where I was in life. My battles have been in my own head and believing through the voice in my head that I wasn’t good enough for this planet. Being told I was living in cloud cuckoo land from time to time didn’t help the ongoing battle in my mind and head.

But I asked for support, through a letter I wrote openly and let me tell you it caused war at home but It did the trick and after going for counselling a few years later I realised I need to take up the offer of support.

I also began to slowly realise I am worth my place on this planet and subsequent conversations made me think that ending my life would have destroyed more than my life but the lives of many people.

There is light at the end of every tunnel, trust me again when I say this because I have been to the depths of despair and found my feet through genuine love and support from many people. I always felt alone through my teenage years and even though I never let it show I was tearing myself apart from the inside out and like I always say I am so thankful to my late Mother for her intuition and also that family member who picked up the phone and helped talk me down in that fateful moment in 2014.

Fast forward 10 years and that future I felt unworthy of is burning bright in front of me and I really can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I made it from my own Darkness into the Light. Go and do the same and find someone you trust and have that opening conversation.

To anyone struggling at the moment, reach out and grasp the hand that will come out to help and support you….

My 6 Nations Team of the Championship

15 George Furbank

14 Calvin Nash

13 Tomas Menenchello

12 Bundee Aki

11 James Lowe

10 Jack Crowley

9 Jamison Gibson Park

8 Ben Earl

7 Tommy Reffell

6 Peter O Mahony

5 Tadgh Beirne

4 Joe Mc Carthy

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Dan Sheehan

1 Andrew Porter

Here is my team of the 6 nations that saw Ireland win back to back Championships and win a 6th title since the 6 Nations came to be in 2000. Like all team selections it is subjective and will be easily disagreed with. Here is hoping Italy in particular can build on two wins and a draw from this campaign.

Wales need to continue the tough rebuild job from the bottom up as this campaign has shown the cracks from last season haven’t been dealt with and it is imperative that the WRU do what they can to try and get the Welsh game back on an even keel.

Ireland of course won a 6th crown of the 6 Nations era and a 15th outright Championship. These are special moments and yes while the World Cup issues will linger until 2027 at least, winning another title is something to be celebrated and not taking for granted as many ex-players and supporters will tell you, these wins were owe so seldom for large periods through the 80s and 90s so soak it up and enjoy it. What is seldom really is special….

Life and Times

Just wanting to follow up my video on Tuesday with a written piece on the fallout from a suicide attempt. I have spoken with family and friends about my attempts to end my life. As I said in the video I know now that had I gone through with the plan to end my life, it would have done more harm than the supposed good I felt my death would have brought to family and friends.

Looking back as I write these words, I can see how hurtful it is and I am only writing of the situation almost 10 years later to try and again show in written form that things can look awful in the dark moments but they will get better I promise…

I speak from real experience and just hope that by again shining a light on these issues it will help one person see that life is worth fighting for. I know too that in those dark moments you truly feel that life and your family and friends lives will be better without you in it but again trust me having spoken to a few people concerning my own situation, I know that my death would have only opened another can of worms.

I am still here even though on several occasions I felt not good enough to even breathe the same air as family and friends. But that is what happens when you go to the depths of despair. I with the help of a number of counsellors have found the worth in living over the past 10 years. Not that trouble won’t resurface but I now feel strong enough that I have the coping skills and mental fortitude to get past any future setbacks that may happen.

I also know, there are people who probably look and me and think what has he really got to be worried about, he is single and has no family of his own to worry about but as has been shown we need to try and look after all, the person who is out going is much at risk as the quiet soul who rarely opens his or her mouth.

I have quietly tried to highlight these things by using my own personal experience as the guide and by writing a large number of pieces over the past while. I realise that many won’t know where to turn in the hope to find the help they may need.

The help is there 24/7 and thankfully we have seen things change in regards to certain supports for mental health. Yes it is far from perfect but it is turning and with the advocacy of the likes of Neil Breslin ( Bressie) things will change it might take a few years but nothing changes overnight even with the best of intentions and will of many people.

I just hope that by using my own story people will take note and sit up and ask the question, are you doing ok ? It doesn’t cost the earth but if we see someone we think might need a listening ear, just go with your gut and ask !!

My door is open to anyone that may need a listening ear, I of course still have my own problems but such is life. I now have the kettle and about 10,000 teabags to get through so if you need a chat I am willing to listen.

I have my own support network that has been cultivated over the past 7 years in particular and I know I can reach out to them and they will come back to me when they can. I probably seem like a cold fish and It may seem like that I can’t empathise but appearances can be deceiving.

I have grown far more aware of my own mental wellbeing and the feelings of others now on occasion in recent times I may have said the wrong thing but I now see I got things wrong on occasion.

I just hope that this honest and open take will show people that when you take the brave step to open up that it will be worth it. I promise If I can do it then others will gain the courage to open up to family, friends…

FAI – Stick or Twist

It is time for the FAI to make up their minds, will they stick with Stephen Kenny although the smart money does suggest that tonight’s game against New Zealand will bring the curtain down on the Stephen Kenny era.

It has been an extremely disappointing campaign that has put the Republic under severe pressure and with season ticket renewals ongoing it will be interesting to see will people put the money into securing the tickets for 2024 that will of course only see competitive action return in September of 2024 when the nations league starts after next season’s European Championships.

That will be a tough sell but like always the diehards will dip into the pocket and its then down to those on the fence about a ticket that they will need to convince, the “casual fan”. The tenure under Stephen Kenny has seen a new generation of players come through backboned by the under 21 side Kenny coached before being handed the big job.

Josh Cullen, Jason Molumby, Dara O Shea are three players that have been brought into the side with men like Will Smallbone and Adam Idah and latterly Evan Ferguson whose presence seems to instilled a small amount of belief in this group. Ferguson has been bang in form when playing for Brighton in the Premier League under Roberto De Zerbi.

Tonight is a final chance for fans to see James Mc Clean in a green shirt one last time as will win his 103rd and final cap after a debut in March 2013. He has scored a few important goals in that period namely against Wales in Cardiff. He also covered a few positions in his 10 year international career like winger, wing back and full back.

The FAI will need to go away and take their time in selecting the next manager to take the Republic forward in 2024 if it isn’t to be Stephen Kenny… A more important fixture this evening could well be the Under 21 European qualifier in Turners Cross down in Cork. It sees Jim Crawford’s team play Italy looking to redress the balance after Norway last week.

It will provide people will the chance to see the next group of talented youngsters looking to firstly create history and qualify for a major tournament at Under 21 level for the first time and then in the future kick on the represent the senior side.

The FAI Cup final between St Pats and Bohs saw a few of those Under 21s play for either side so you got a chance to see these talented lads. The league of Ireland will provide the players with meaningful game time into the future. Yes it has been the poor relation for many years. A pain that the FAI never quite knew how to set up to keep all sides happy !!

That talk will need to be parked until another time but this evening it’s a chance for two sides to start the healing process, the 21s will need to be on point to gain victory in Cork and likewise on Lansdowne Road the senior side will need to try and gain a small morale boost before this current international window slams shut.

Who you ask will the FAI look to steer the ship if Stephen Kenny’s tenure is ended after tonight’s game. Men like Lee Carsley current England under 21 boss but crucially an ex Ireland international will he look upon this as a project he would like to take on or will it be someone like Gus Poyet who only early last month was questioned would he be interested if the chance presented itself to coach this Ireland side. He did not dismiss the possibility. It will take time and patience to see who the FAI will get in to take the top job. No matter who does get the vote of confidence it will be a tough gig no matter the new person’s CV…

A word for Stephen Kenny if tonight is the be his swansong, he took on the top job with a certain style of play in mind and stuck by those principles which some may see as a step forward but more may say he wasn’t for turning and during his time in charge it was proven when they came unstuck against opposition they should have beaten and then against the likes of France or Holland when caution mixed with some of the new ball playing style may have been warranted.

He stuck rigidly to the way he knows best and that is possession based football which worked while in charge of Bohs, Dundalk in the LOI and then in Scotland with a few teams. Tonight in Dublin 4, it might just be goodbye to Mr Kenny but his work in bringing a number of new players through can’t be forgotten and may benefit the next manager to take on the Republic Of Ireland gig….

Munster – High Gear Time

The 23/24 season is 5 rounds old this weekend and will see Munster face The Stormers in Limerick 6 months after beating them in the URC Final in Cape Town. It will be a chance for Joseph Dweba to come face to face yet again with the boys he wanted to in his own words “F*** up” in last season’s final and I am sure he will get a special welcome on the pitch and in the stands also. They have long memories in the stands as well as on the pitch Joseph !!

Back to the game, Munster have two wins, a draw and a loss so far this year. Looking to Saturday, it’s a chance to circle the wagons and focus the mind going into the next block of games that includes a trip to Dublin as well as a return to Europe in December.

 Munster know the standards haven’t hit the heights they did at the end of last season. It’s time for Munster to kick into a high gear from this weekend onward as the games will start to get bigger as the weeks go by.

John Dobson won’t need to motivate his side and for that matter Graham Rowntree won’t need to use the stick much in meetings to fire his charges up. The return of the internationals is well timed.

Unfortunately RG Snyman won’t be available for an extended period and his engine room colleague Jean Kleyn will come back into the reckoning if not this week, he should be knocking around to be involved against Leinster. We have seen a few guys grab the chance to be in the Munster second row with Edwin Edogbo and Thomas Ahern starting a number of games together, an eye to the future maybe !! Munster also have Fineen Wycherley and Cian Hurley will be back around the new year.

For the talk of the exits of maybe the two SA World Cup winners as the end of the year it is good to see Munster pushing the younger crew forward to start the big games as well as the odd game. Of course this is only speculation at the moment but decision time for new contracts is not too far away either.

Only time will tell will Munster manage to keep one of the two WC winners or will the IRFU say to Munster to let both go in favour of the young talent coming through. The hope among supporters will be to keep one as I feel they won’t hold onto both the end of the current campaign.

As for the back three spots which is quite light at the moment, Liam Coombes was injured in AIL action with Garryowen and that coupled with the retirement of Keith Earls and more recently Andrew Conway leave Munster with space in the back three area.

Opportunity knocks of course for those who will come in, Sean O Brien has seen game time on the left wing with Calvin Nash in the 14 shirt. Simon Zebo will also come back into contention over the next few weeks and that will help relieve the pressure at the minute….     

We have yet to see Munster take flight in attack and let’s hope they have ironed out the issues at both line out and scrum time. For Munster to really kick on both areas need to be sharper.

No better time than a home fixture against the Stormers before the run of games that will see a return to Europe…..

Andrew Conway

It defiantly hits home the nature of certain sports seeing Andrew Conway having to call time on his career due to a persistent knee injury. He got back a month ago to play with Munster one final time in the win over the Sharks in Thomond Park.

Last week, another top notch operator had to admit defeat in his quest to get back to full fitness. Andrew Conway played his rugby with Blackrock College, Leinster and Munster in the pro game playing with Leinster 42 times and then moving to Munster in summer 2013 and going on to play in red 150 times and scoring 50 tries . He turned out for Ireland 30 times and scored 15 tries, a serious strike rate for club and country.

The try that will most likely stand out for most will be the effort against Toulon in 2018 in the Champions Cup quarter final when in the final 5 minutes when Munster were 5 points down and he collected a Francois Trinh Duc clearance on the touch line and cut in to race clear and score a try that will be long remembered by all in Thomond that afternoon.

He as I say had a terrific strike rate, 50 tries in 150 for Munster, 16 in 42 for Leinster and 15 in 30 caps for Ireland. He was an extremely cleaver rugby player who was well able to tackle as well as ind a gap when his team needed it.

Adept in the full back roll as well as playing on either wing, his durability and experience will be sorely missed by all who played alongside him. It is getting tough to write these pieces as I am in and around the same age and older than some of these guys, Johnny Holland had to do something similar in 2016, Felix Jones, CJ Stander.

Felix Jones has gone on to have great success as a coach with Munster were he cut his teeth as a coach and most recently with South Africa where he has just won his second World Cup winners medal. He will now take a place in the England coaching team alongside Steve Borthwick.

Back to Andrew Conway, it will be interesting to see what he may do next in his life, I am sure he will take a break before making his next move. Will he go into coaching or will he be more than happy to make a clean break away from rugby…

Whatever may be in the pipeline for Andrew, I’d like to wish him well and thank him for the last number of years in red… I for one won’t forget your try vs Toulon…

Hopes and Dreams

You set out in life with hopes and dreams and sometimes they come through and in more cases it doesn’t happen for you… But you always strive to reach that goal you set out to reach.

Looking at how things have panned out for myself as I’ll only write of my own experience as I know that best. The past few months have shown me I should have done this earlier but that is the way life went and I of course knew better as a teenager in particular. This move to “independence” has done wonders for me, it has help my waistline as well as the other benefits.

I have the typical jesting you get in my situation, you have the pad now try and find the lady to go with it too. I am only out on my “own” just over two months but life has improved and I am so grateful to be in this position as I know in the current climate things are tough and tight for so many of my age group.

I was fortunate to be offered this chance and even more fortunate to accept the offer. It’s a privilege as well as a right of passage. For years as I have spoken of previously I have been told I was mollycoddled and minded. I won’t mention names but I know I can now look those people in the eye and say here I am, 33 out and free, take me as you now find me or take a hike !!

Time and space has given me the opportunity to think and reflect on past mistakes and success. Of which there are many of both but I am still here and that for me is a real success as I have spoken of many times, on more than one occasion I had thought of ending my life.

That plan was supposed to be executed on my 30th birthday but thankfully I didn’t think of following through on the idea that ending my life would help others, family or friends. I have been prompted to write this by seeing the anniversary yesterday of the closing of the last Magdalene Laundry in Dublin in 1996.

To think of those women, who had their lives ruined by church and states is a national disgrace and let’s hope those women that are still living will have the chance to see real change in Ireland. We are 27 years beyond that point and the wheel is slowly turning away from that period. As I say I am thinking of those women, young and old as I sit here and type.

I suppose my reasons for including that in this piece is that I have had the opportunity to have a life and make choices where those women didn’t have that option. What I am saying is, take any chance that comes your way and don’t sit back and wait for it to come to the door to you because as I realised only in the last couple of years it won’t come to you and ask you do you want to take the chance presented.

I am currently “between” opportunities myself and I am working on my next move. I have been lucky to have some of my dreams and hopes become a reality since I left school.

Having the chance to work in community radio and write for my own website, and then with the helping hand of the late Fr Pat Moore putting in a kind word with a man I know can call a friend John Herilhy to take me on board with the Radio Kerry Broadcast course in 2015.

 I broke his heart but the skills he managed to impart to that 25 year old who felt he knew plenty when in fact in all honesty I didn’t know anything gave me the tools to have something to fall back on when I am “between” chances. This is one of those periods and I am writing away and planning for a few interviews.

I have spoken to a number of sports people and also people in other industries and have been lucky to meet and interview many people including a few of my hero’s. What I am saying is if you have a hope or a dream go out and do what you can to achieve it because it will not come in the door to you….

RWC 2023 Final Preview

So here we are after 6 weeks, it’s down to two. South Africa and New Zealand will face off in the World Cup Final. 28 years on from the last time when South Africa defeated the land of the long white cloud in the 95 Final.

The renewal this year will be special, firstly not many would have predicted that in particular France wouldn’t be there on the last night and especially after beating the finalists New Zealand on opening night and then South Africa lost out to Ireland on a tight 13-8 score line but alas that is not how sport works and the cream always rises.

After 4 tight quarter finals and then in South Africa’s case a tough semi final, one feels we have the right pairing in another edition of the World Cup. It will again be a southern hemisphere winner and the northern hemisphere will have to wait another 4 years to see who might join England from 2003 as the next northern hemisphere winner.

Both New Zealand and South Africa will be looking to put their name on the trophy for a 4th time. For all the talk of France, Ireland or someone coming from the pack to challenge the pecking order has gone by the way side and even though people will say both teams came close to going out, New Zealand against Ireland in the QF winning by 4 points, 28-24 and South Africa kicking a late penalty to vanquish England.

The reality is that the defending champions and the previous winner of the competition are back where they feel they always will be and that’s in the World Cup final. It should be a good final and even if the weather dictates tactics it will still be a good game and hopefully one fitting of the biggest game in rugby union….

New Zealand have come from the apparent crisis of summer 2022 to first win the Rugby Championship of 2023 to signal there intent and now only 80 minutes away from another World Cup win. For a number of current All Blacks this will mark the end of their time in the black jersey, the likes of Beauden Barrett, Sam Whitelock and Aaron Smith to name three men who will end there time in black on Saturday evening.

A similar situation will of course be the case for a few wearing green also, like Duane Vermuelan and Deon Fourie. So there is a plenty to play for on both sides and this will be the ideal way to end their careers in their respective national jerseys.

Both coaching teams will have a few interesting choices to make when selecting the 23s for Saturday. Will Manie Libbock see off Handre Pollard for the 10 jersey and for the All Blacks will Mark Telea be in the number 11 shirt over Leicester Fainga’anuku, interesting choices on both sides.

Both coaching teams will also be leaving for pastures new post France with Ian Foster being replaced by Scott Robertson and Jacques Nienber will leave his role to come to Leinster. Will Rassie Erasmus continue his role or look for a new challenge. I feel that South Africa will look for a new direction to try and lead them to Australia in 2027.

For both sides, Saturday will mark the end of the road for a number of key people and no better way than to end that journey than with the William Webb Ellis Cup. I will now do what Rassie Erasmus did last week and I’ll select the 23s of both teams…. I predict a New Zealand win on Saturday….

South Africa XV :

15 Damian Williemese

14 Kurt Lee Arendse

13 Jessie Kriel

12 Damian De Allende

11 Cheslin Kolbe

10 Handre Pollard

9 Cobus Reinarch

8 Duane Vermuelan

7 Peter Steph Du Toit

6 Siya Kolisi

5 Franco Mostert

4 Eben Etzebeth

3 Frans Malherbe

2 Mbongeni Mbonambi

1 Steven Kitshoff

16 Deon Fourie

17 Ox Nche

18 Vincent Koch

19 RG Snyman

20 Jasper Wiese

21 Faf De Klerk

22 Manie Libbock

23 Canon Moodie

New Zealand XV

15 Beauden Barrett

14 Will Jordan

13 Reiko Ioane

12 Jordie Barrett

11 Mark Telea

10 Richie Mo’unga

9 Aaron Smith

8 Ardie Savea

7 Sam Cane

6 Shannon Frizell

5 Brodie Retallick

4 Sam Whitelock

3 Tyrell Lomax

2 Codie Taylor

1 Ethan De Groot

16 Dane Coles

17 Ofa Tungafasi

18 Fletcher Newell

19 Dalton Papalii

20 Luke Jacobson

21 Finlay Christie

22 Damian Mackenzie

23 Anton Leniert Brown

RWC 2023- Ireland Review

So yet again it’s a quarter final exit for Ireland at another Rugby World Cup. But this exit seems different to many others because Ireland were in this game for 80 + minutes. A 28-24 loss to New Zealand is a familiar tale of the Irish tape at World Cup time. Unfortunately on this occasion Ireland were left counter punching and trying to find a way to turn around an early 13-0 NZ lead.

As I have said so many times here and on a few podcasts you can’t give a team like New Zealand a head start and then expect to keep counter punching and find a way past them. This time though Ireland did that three times and found scores that included a penalty try.

We were found wanting a scrum time and maybe Farrell should have called for Dave Kilcoyne earlier than 10 minutes from the end. Alas this didn’t happen and it might just have countered the impact of the replacement New Zealand replacement front row.

The past two years in particular under Andy Farrell and Co promised some much and a Grand Slam last March also suggested that lessons of previous tale offs in the months leading to World Cup time had been learned from.

Yet again though, it’s a story of If, But, Maybe and Could Have, Should Have, Would Have. This review will be as though if not harder than what went before.

Ireland worked a position late on and went to the corner took the line out and went over only for Jordie Barrett to use his 6”4 frame to get under Ronan Kelleher to deny Ireland a famous winning try.

This New Zealand side does not have the aura of other teams that had Carter, Mc Caw etc but what it does have is players with the right strong skill set to execute the game plan that is set out by whoever may be in charge at that point.

The impact of the assistant coaches, Joe Schmidt and Jason Ryan can be easily seen. Both men were assistants previously with Schmidt of course coaching up here with Leinster and Ireland and Jason Ryan was assistant to incoming New Zealand coach Scott Robertson at the Crusaders.

It will certainly be an interesting one to look to see with both men be kept on in the short term once New Zealand’s time in France ends whether that is on Friday on the following weekend.  

Back to Ireland, Saturday of course marked the end of Jonathan Sexton’s time as a professional rugby player. He played 118 times for Ireland, scoring over 1,000 Test points.

He burst onto the scene here with Leinster in late 2009. Having appeared during the Celtic League campaign that year it was his appearance against Munster in Croke Park that brought him really to people’s attention. His drive to succeed and win has to be mentioned and say it was unrivalled. Many Irish players tried to drive standards but only him and Roy Keane truly made that happen.

Of course people will look at his record at RWC’s and say not he never did it on that stage but that is only part of his story as he drove them to victory last March to win a Grand Slam, kicked them to win a crucial win against France in 2018 in Paris with “Le drop”.

So looking at his career on the whole it’s been very special and he will be recognised as one man who drove Ireland to huge heights maybe not on the RWC stage but his impact on the game in Ireland will be long lasting I have no doubt.

He will bow out now and fade into civilian life with ease and enjoy family life.

A word too for Keith Earls who it was quietly announced would also be stepping away from the International game after 101 caps and 36 tries. He is loved by all who follow the game in this country and will be missed by those who support Munster aswell as the Irish supporters if he confirms his retirement from the club game also.

These two along with I suspect a few more will make statements about there long term futures as one or two will have contract renewals to discuss in the coming months. We can leave that for another time.

Thank you to both Keith and Jonathan for their respective contributions in green. I was there the night Keith made his international debut in Limerick in November 2008. He scored after 2 minutes and never looked back….

So that elusive first semi-final appearance will have to wait until Australia in 2027… Time now to take stock of the last few weeks and reset the clock for 2024 and beyond.

Enjoy the rest of the RWC where England will carry the hopes of the northern hemisphere after Ireland, France and Wales were beaten this past weekend….