Per­for­mance took the spring out of our step

Bray People - - SPORT -

I AWOKE on Sun­day to a beau­ti­ful, crisp Fe­bru­ary morn­ing, the sort of start to a day that would have you belt­ing out a well-known clas­sic from ‘Ok­la­homa’ with the gusto of a Tadhg Fur­long tackle.

Given that the del­uge of the pre­vi­ous few days forced a post­pone­ment of much of the lo­cal sport­ing ac­tion, it af­forded me the op­por­tu­nity of go­ing for a nice brisk walk in­stead of get­ting that sink­ing feel­ing on a mucky, weather-beaten side­line.

You can’t beat a good stroll in the coun­try­side to rid a foggy mind of any hazi­ness and get the blood flow­ing to such a de­gree that you’re like a brain-box con­tes­tant on Mas­ter­mind able to an­swer some of life’s great ques­tions: what’s the mean­ing of ex­is­tence, what is a space time con­tin­uum, and how did Ire­land man­age to make such a mon­u­men­tal ball­sup of it in their Six Na­tions opener against Scot­land?

Be­fore I’m ac­cused of be­ing one of those twisted troll types, who sits there wait­ing to pounce and rubs their hand glee­fully like Mr. Burns count­ing his money when a team loses, I was ful­some in my praise of Ire­land when they top­pled the All Blacks a few months back.

Also given that the Six Na­tions was far and away the big­gest sport­ing topic on these shores at the week­end, I was al­ways go­ing to give my tup­pence worth on it, whether it be the fist pump of a win, the body slump of a loss or a shoul­der-shrug­ging draw.

As is our wont on this fair isle, the be­lief that our mo­men­tous win over New Zealand was a sort of com­ing of age was given far too much cre­dence, with some even putting it up there with our coun­try’s great­est-ever sport­ing achieve­ments.

Some­times we need to just take a step back, take a deep breath and look at the big­ger pic­ture.

The win over the All Blacks was un­ques­tion­ably a fan­tas­tic achieve­ment, but as we painfully found out on Satur­day, tour­na­ment rugby is a whole dif­fer­ent ball game.

Of course, Scot­land are no mugs, hav­ing re­cently beaten Ar­gentina and go­ing oh so close to top­pling Australia in the World Cup and again in the au­tumn, but it was a game Joe Sch­midt’s men sim­ply had to win.

When Ire­land limped out of the World Cup at the quar­ter-fi­nal stage with a heavy de­feat against Ar­gentina in the au­tumn of 2015 I had the au­dac­ity to point out that any­body sug­gest­ing we had a de­cent tour­na­ment was liv­ing in cloud cuckoo land and sim­ply cel­e­brat­ing fail­ure.

My me­an­der­ings drew crit­i­cism from some quar­ters but I ve­he­mently stick by those sen­ti­ments, and if Ire­land stut­ter at the same stage in two years’ time, I would de­scribe it ex­actly the same.

Never go­ing be­yond the last eight in the tour­na­ment when the world’s de­cent rugby play­ing na­tions can be counted on your fin­gers is, to put it mildly, dis­ap­point­ing and some­thing that has to be put right sooner rather than later.

For some die-hards a rous­ing win over France was enough to pa­per over the cracks, but vic­to­ries are worth noth­ing un­less you can back them up with con­sis­tency.

When it comes to our na­tional rugby side, some sup­port­ers tend to be very pre­cious, but no team should be shel­tered from crit­i­cism and, in the main, the Ir­ish rugby squad get an easy ride from the me­dia and pub­lic alike.

Rugby, like most other sports, has be­come more about sys­tems, struc­tures and rigid game­plans than in­di­vid­ual bril­liance and flair, so much so that any player’s mis­takes are mag­ni­fied ten-fold and sim­i­lar to our ca­pit­u­la­tion in the World Cup against Ar­gentina a slow start proved ex­tremely costly.

The Ir­ish team have given us some glo­ri­ous days in re­cent times but with­out ques­tion one Grand Slam and a few cham­pi­onships is not a great re­turn for a so-called golden gen­er­a­tion of play­ers.

Even in the un­likely event that Ire­land do go on to win the tour­na­ment this year, it will still be tinged with what-ifs. If only Ire­land had done the right things at the right times against Scot­land we’d be cel­e­brat­ing a Grand Slam in­stead of a cham­pi­onship, although at this stage three wins out of our re­main­ing games would be prob­a­bly about the best we could hope for.

That said, if Ire­land can res­ur­rect a tour­na­ment chal­lenge from the ashes of Satur­day’s de­feat the spring would cer­tainly re­turn to the na­tion’s step and give us all some­thing to sing about. FE­BRU­ARY 11, 1987, was a dark day in the vil­lage of An­nacura. Aged just 49, Tom Carr sadly passed away leav­ing be­hind his wife and young daugh­ter. Speak­ing to lo­cals who re­mem­ber Tom, it’s hard to be­lieve Fe­bru­ary 11 this year marks the 30-year an­niver­sary of Tom’s pass­ing.

To mark the day and cel­e­brate Tom’s life, it is a fit­ting tribute that a foot­ball match is tak­ing place in An­nacurra on Satur­day at 3pm, with the vic­tors tak­ing home the Tom Carr Cup.

An an­niver­sary mass is also tak­ing place on Sun­day at 11am in An­nacurra.

Ev­ery­one is wel­come to both events but it would be great to see as many mem­bers of the GAA fam­ily who played with and against Tom at the mass on the Sun­day.

The Carr fam­ily are ask­ing peo­ple to bring any old pho­tographs they may have and as many sto­ries as they can re­mem­ber.

So although the 11th of Fe­bru­ary 2017 marks 30 years since the un­timely pass­ing of a true great of Wicklow foot­ball, it was de­cided to re­mem­ber Tom and cel­e­brate him through what he loved best – a hard fought foot­ball match and a catch up with fam­ily and friends.

The team to play An­nacurra on the 11th are also turn­ing back the clock and are look­ing to the past for in­spi­ra­tion.

The team aptly named St. Brigid’s (af­ter the school and church in An­nacurra) won a county schools cham­pi­onship rep­re­sent­ing Coláiste Bríde in 1999 and are re-unit­ing af­ter 18 years. It will be an in­ter­est­ing bat­tle on the day as mem­bers of this team went on to pro­duce Le­in­ster vo­ca­tional school’s win­ners, un­der­age and se­nior county foot­ballers as well as one or two Mi­ley Cup win­ners for good mea­sure. It is cer­tainly wet­ting the appetite as a lo­cal derby not to be missed!

A de­jected Rob­bie Hen­shaw fol­low­ing Ire­land’s de­feat against Scot­land.

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