It was another loss for Bruff at the weekend as John Hogan begins to feel his age.
On enough occasions to cause me concern in recent months, I’ve noticed quite a few signs that I’m getting old.
Every so often, I’ll be having a conversation with a friend and I’ll repeat something that I had said only a minute previously. Bending over to pick something up now prompts a series of grunts that would have the uninitiated thinking I’m having a heart attack. More and more, I find myself complaining about the actions of those younger than me. And every so often, I’ll be having a conversation with a friend and I’ll repeat something that I’d said only a minute previously.
Not that long ago, we decided to have a court session on the bus home from one of our games, and it was declared that the “ould fellas” should sit at the back of the bus from where they could pass judgment on others. Having been well used to standing in the dock as a defendant during such sessions, I made no move to go towards the back seat. When everyone had taken their place, however, it was pointed out to me that I had been promoted from the substitutes bench to the court bench, by virtue of my age.
In my mind’s eye I was still a young whippersnapper, waiting to unleash his full potential on an unsuspecting rugby world. It turns out, though, that I might just be a standard-issue old-snapper, and I’m closer to realising arthritis than I am my full rugby potential.
Tonight, as has been the case for most of our training sessions this year, there was a good share of the Bruff U-20s training with the senior team. Ten years ago, I too was a member of the Bruff U-20s, and up until recently, I had been under the impression that these youngsters and I were basically one and the same. Just a bunch of lads, barely out of our teens, enjoying our sense of freedom for the first time now that we’re out from underneath our parents’ repressive thumbs.
As a result of my court session revelations, however, I stared to view my status as a young upstart on the team a little differently. After all, when I was playing U-20s, these lads were probably playing in sandboxes and still learning how to wipe their own arses.
For an elderly man such as I, well used to the pleasantly paced confines of the front row, it was distressing to hear tonight that I would be playing in the back-row this weekend. To make matters worse, I would be venturing into a position, best suited to younger, more sprightly men, against Queens University. Just as I had become aware that I was having a quarter-life crisis, I was expected to go toe-to-toe with a gang of energetic youths that were barely out of nappies. It’s enough to make you fill a hot water bottle and go to bed before the Nine O Clock News even starts.
Although the prevalence of U-20s of late has done little for my internal reservoir of youthful exuberance, I was delighted to hear this morning that they had beaten UL-Bohs the night before, thus qualifying for an All-Ireland Quarter Final.
Sadly, we couldn’t repeat the youngsters’ heroics when we played Queens, losing 27-20, but putting up a decent fight at the same time. Despite being in their teens, Sean Cremin, Davy O’Grady, Graham Whelan and Eric Finn all togged out for the seniors today. The combined years of this gaggle of talented upstarts would barely surpass my 29, but the lads proved on Saturday that they are more than capable of mixing it with my fellow geriatrics and I.
If the presence of these youths wasn’t such an obvious reminder of my rapid aging, I could almost be excited by the prospects that they bring for Bruff RFC. After our own match we watched Ireland win the Six Nations and subsequently bade farewell to one of the legends of Irish rugby. Gordon D’Arcy’s beard may be gone but it won’t be quickly forgotten.