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Hooker’s Diary: Bruff without the Cahills is like the Beatles without Lennon

As always, John Hogan's Hooker's Diary provides an entertaining read

As always, John Hogan's Hooker's Diary provides an entertaining read

Bruff win at last but the only action our man gets is in his personal battle with a fruit pastille

Allow me to start off by addressing an injustice that has been visited upon my brethren and I.

The ‘16thMan’ has gotten a lot of good press around these parts over the last number of years due to the automatic assumption that it refers to Munster’s diehard supporters. But this assumption does something of a disservice for the real wearer number 16 – normally the substitute hooker on a rugby panel.

Unlike Munster’s 16thMan, some of whom it’s been suggested might possibly be bandwagon-jumpers, the sub hooker is not in his line of work for the glamour or the fame, although there’s plenty of both I assure you. He is a loyal, patient breed of animal who will warm the bench come rain, hail or shine, through thick and thin and deserves recognition for his altruism.

I’m not asking for a statue outside Thomond Park dedicated to the selfless 16s of this world – although I’m not discouraging it either – but dear reader do me the kindness of not exclusively associating ‘The 16thMan’ with a batch of supporters who have yet to realise that Athenry is in Connacht.

Tuesday

Our prop Davy Horan is never one to shy away from a clothing choice that might raise a few eyebrows amongst his teammates in Kilballyowen – none of whom could ever be accused of being fashionistas.

He made one such style decision a few years ago when becoming the first player in Bruff to wear a pair of skintight under-armour leggings to combat the cold weather. At the time, his teammates were kind enough to remind Dave regularly and mercilessly that he was Bruff’s first cross-dressing prop and that he should try a pair of suspenders to go along with them.

As he looked around the dressing room before training tonight though, Dave remarked that almost half of the other players have now taken to wearing the very same item of clothing. I suppose trailblazers are often not appreciated in their own time.

Thursday

Imagine the Beatles without Lennon or the Stones without Jagger. Well, in our own way, Bruff RFC has been Lennon-less and Jagger-less since the start of the season as for the first time in years not one member of the Cahill family had featured on our starting team. Last year’s captain Tony relocated to Australia a few months back, Eoin just recently was welcomed back to training after a period with Shannon and Brian has been injured up until this week.

Thankfully though, a big step was taken in getting the band back together tonight as the team was announced with Brian starting in the centre. Needless to say, I retained my position as a roadie with number 16 on his back.

Saturday

There’s a change of format for the account of this week’s match in order to give you a brief glimpse into the world of a sub hooker. Here is the blow-by-blow account of our game versus Belfast Harlequins as seen by number 16.

2.30pm: It’s bitterly cold but thankfully I’m wrapped up in a onesie-style body suit that’s a cross between a tracksuit and a sleeping bag. Just one of the many perks of bench habitation.

2.45pm: Brendan Bourke arrives with a packet of Fruit Pastilles. My fellow subs and I show exemplary hands to transfer them swiftly along the bench, extracting as much as our hands could hold as they moved down the line. The training was worth it.

3pm: Tom O’Callaghan finishes off probably our best try of the season to give us a healthy lead. I’ve got a fruit pastille caught in one of my back teeth that’s been bothering me for 15 minutes now.

3.40pm: After several attempts at battering our way across the Harlequins line, Maurice O’Connell touches down to score our second try. After several attempts at battering the bloody Fruit Pastille off my molar, I have also tasted success. People seem more excited about Maurice’s achievement.

3.45pm: I really need to pee but fear running into the dressing room to relieve myself as that would no doubt be the very moment when I would be required to come on in the game. Like the martyr I am, I decide to hold it until the game is over.

3.50pm: It’s getting very tense here in Kilballyowen, don’t know if I’ll be able to hold it much longer.

3.55pm: My back teeth are floating at this stage.

4pm: The referee blows the final whistle to give us a 21-17 victory. I didn’t even wait for the final and third toot before dashing into the dressing rooms for my own victorious bladder-emptying. Another unsung day of heroics for the true ‘16thMan’.

>>> John also does a fortnightly podcast called Hoge ‘n’ Smith that can be downloaded on iTunes or from www.hogensmith.com

 

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