In this weekend’s Hooker’s Diary, John Hogan has not just one but two defeats to look back on.
After such a long break since the last Hooker’s Diary, it seems only fitting to address some of the hot-button issues that arose during the lay-off.
The religiously inclined amongst you must have suspected that the rapture was upon us in recent weeks, what with the biblical weather conditions. To be honest, I was grateful that all of our games were cancelled over the last few stormy weeks, as I didn’t fancy throwing lineouts into the eye of a hurricane. A hooker welcomes gale force winds in much the same way the gay community might welcome Neil Francis to the position of Grand Marshal in a pride parade.
After being inspired by Gordon D’arcy’s absolutely magnificent beard, I spent much of my hiatus off the field attempting to grow one of my own. Rather than reaching the bristly heights achieved by D’arcy, however, I ended up looking more like the love child of The Dubliners and ZZ Top.
While the high winds and floods of Storm Darwin weren’t actually indicators of the rapture, that final day of reckoning might not be too far off now for Bruff. After this weekend’s game against Banbridge, we would only have five more fixtures left and our arses are still firmly planted atop the Division 2A trapdoor.
Although the worst of the weather was over by this evening, there were still stretches of the Old Cork Road that would have been better navigated by an ark than a car. For that reason, we were told to do our own gym sessions rather than risk the trip to Bruff.
I was surprised that night to see our scrum half, and Castleisland native, Willie Casey walk into the gym with our out half Declan Bannon. And before you say it, my surprise wasn’t just because both lads play in the backs and would therefore know more about curling tongs than bicep curls.
You see, earlier that day, Colm Cooper had torn his cruciate, and I thought Willie would have been crouched at a makeshift alter someplace, offering up his first born to the lord almighty in return for the full and speedy recovery of ‘The Gooch’.
I found out at training this evening that the Limerick Leader’s very own Alan English is ghost writing Brian O’Driscoll’s biography. Depending on what kind of job he does, I might consider him for my own when I finally decide to hang up the boots.
I even came up with a few potential titles for my sporting biography on the drive home tonight. So far I’ve got ‘Thinker, Trainer, Substitute, Standby’, ‘Kilballyowen Confidential’, and ‘A Hooker’s Guide to the Galaxy’.
After the highs of victory against Naas in our last game, Banbridge forced a spoonful of reality down our throat this afternoon, without even giving us so much as a losing bonus point to help sooth its passage into our stomach. The final scoreline was 32-15 and the Irish match unfortunately didn’t prove to be much of a pick-me-up afterwards either.
For those of us who were eligible, however, there was a Junior Cup fixture the next day against Garryowen that offered the chance to redeem this weekend.
Despite the disappointment of the previous day, I was excited this morning by the prospect of packing down against John-Mark Griffin, the Garryowen seconds team hooker and one of my closest friends.
Close and all as we are though, I would have been willing to feed Griff his own spleen today in order to win. Bruff have competed in the Munster Junior Cup for a longer time than we have any other competition, and yet it is the only cup that we have never won.
Right up until the last minute of injury time, Griff’s organs were all still firmly in place but we seemed to have won the clash nonetheless, with a three point lead and seconds left on the clock. Heartbreakingly though, fate once again cast its shadow over Kilballyowen, as Garryowen scored a try at the death to cast us out of the Junior Cup for yet another year.
A weekend like that would put a few extra grey hairs in your beard. Hopefully there won’t be too many more like it or I’ll look like Santa Claus by May.