In the return of his weekly Limerick Leader column, John Hogan takes us through the week of an AIL player.
Like a particularly magnificent lump of snot that you’d wiped off your finger on to the underside of your car seat, only to discover a few months later when searching for your keys, I am back.
The more observant readers amongst you might notice that the return of The Hooker’s Diary this year has come a little later than usual, with Bruff already four games into our season.
This was down to something of a standoff between the Limerick Leader and I, as my agent sought improved terms in my contract. I won’t bore you with all the sordid details but let’s just say someone’s got himself a brand new, reasonably priced gumshield.
Training was optional this evening, which for my good self normally means training is not happening.
Tonight, though, Davy Horan and I said we’d go to the additional session with Brendan Bourke, our conditioning coach. Bourkey had Davy and I join in on one of his regular aerobics classes, which are attended by civilians from all around Bruff and beyond.
“Piece of cake” we thought, emboldened by the participation in the class of both school age teenagers and others who hadn’t sat at a school desk in quite some time. However, with each thrust, lunge and bounce, I came very close to giving both the young and old in attendance a lesson on the inner workings of my stomach. Dancing, it’s fair to say, will not be featuring all that regularly in my exercise plans from here on out.
We had a players’ meeting in the club tonight to address our, to date, very disappointing season in Division 2A.
What was meant to be a 30-minute chat stretched out to two-and-a-half hours, as fellas expressed their thoughts on where we had been going wrong.
It’s been extremely tough to go from the highs of rising through the junior and senior ranks in a short number of years, only to start falling back the other way again. If it achieved nothing else, tonight’s meeting showed us that there’s still plenty of resolve amongst the players to get us back on track.
Tonight we were out of the conference room and back on to the more familiar pastures of the field, to prepare for our game this weekend against City of Derry.
This game is actually something of a landmark for me, as the first ever Hooker’s Diary was written after a particularly disastrous trip to Derry. It involved two broken down buses, a Garda escort off the M50, and a sports editor that desperately needed to fill some space in the following week’s paper.
Everyone at training was acting as though they were unaware of significance of the fixture. I figured they were acting coy because they were probably planning some grand gesture to mark the occasion so I played along.
There are moments when rugby can leave you elated, and others when it can feel as though Mike Tyson has been practicing his shovel hooks on your solar plexus.
Today’s game started on Cloud Nine but finished with Iron Mike at his meanest. Against all odds, we had a lead of 16-3 over the unbeaten league-leaders coming up to half time. A few errors, injuries and cruel fate conspired over a short space of time, however, and at the final whistle the score was 29-19. A few of the Derry lads said to us as we walked off the field that we don’t deserve to be bottom of the league.