In his Limerick Leader ‘Hooker’s Diary’ column, John Hogan recalls a chance encounter with a Game of Thrones star
Sports columnists often tell tales about the greats of old and what can be learned from them today, or may analyse one of the current sporting stock in terms normally reserved for a deity.
Others will try to elevate their sport of choice from being a mere distraction to the status of a great unifying force that brings the citizens of the world together on one level playing field.
I am not equipped with the vocabulary, the inclination, the memory or the knowledge to engage in any of the above on my patch of newspaper, dedicated to all things Bruffian. It’s also highly contentious whether or not this column even belongs in the sports pages as some of you may have noticed of late, that I prefer to dwell on the incidental details rather than the games themselves, as our season goes from bad to Hindenburg.
Luckily for this limited writer though, the incidental details of life on the Bruff panel can be far more interesting than the on-field action. For example, this week alone we engaged with hostile-looking Russians, took part in some potentially illegal turf-cutting in Dublin City Centre, and had a game interrupted by a star of one of the biggest shows on television.
Arriving at training in Kilballyowen this evening, one could have been forgiven for thinking they were walking into the middle of a casting call for the next Bond baddie. We were greeted by a team of burly Russians, who were in fact a club side there to play the Munster Academy and not, as far as I know, to hatch a plot to take over the world.
Whatever ill-founded misconceptions we may have had about the Russian team, the suspicion was mutual. Throughout the game between the two sides, the most disgruntled-looking member of the visiting team stood guard outside their dressing room, presumably for fear any of the sticky-fingered home team would help themselves to some of their flashy gear.
Rugby must be a relatively new introduction to Russia. Everyone knows that ‘borrowing’ gear from other teams is as much a part of the game as a scrum or lineout. I can only presume that naiveté was to blame for our visitors standing in the way of one of the game’s oldest traditions.
My brief stint as a back row was ended tonight as it was announced that I would be returning to my old familiar hooking duties for Saturday’s game against Trinity College in Dublin. Presumably the selectors had decided they wanted at least one member of the back row over six foot at the weekend, and I was the one to bear the brunt of that wacky line of thinking.
After seeing the peat-like state of the pitch on the Trinity campus today, we were concerned that the first scrum could have gotten us into trouble with the EU for illegal turf-cutting. It was just as well that we were playing just up the road from Dáil Eireann, as I’m sure Ming Flanagan would have been quick to jump to our defence should we have needed it.
As it happened, we should have been a little more concerned about getting on the wrong side of the referee than the EU. Three yellow cards in the first half alone left us with too high a mountain to climb and laid the groundwork for a deluge of Trinity tries in the second half. The hosts celebrated each one of their scores with all the reserve and modesty of a rabid chimpanzee on magic mushrooms.
The day wasn’t a total loss, however, as during the game our winger Mark Cosgrove took time out from his on-pitch duties to hail Jack Gleeson, better known to many as Joffrey Baratheon from HBO’s Game of Thrones. As well as being one of the most reviled characters on television, it seems young Joffrey is also a student in Trinity. He just happened to be walking past the pitch as his schoolmates barged over for another try.
Rather than dwell on the misery of conceding another score, Cossie said he’d make some celebrity friends while he had the chance.
“Well! You’re Joffrey aren’t you?” he asked the unsuspecting passer-by, who looked around nervously.
“Erm, ya,” he responded, presumably a bit unnerved by the peat-lathered rugby player conducting a conversation with him from the field, during a game.
“Cool man, talk to you.”
Cossie finished the conversation as quickly as he’d started it, leaving one of the most recognisable faces on television at the moment quite perplexed. Next week I’m hoping that someone from the Sopranos turns up at our game in Kilballyowen.
We could do with recruiting some of those bulky sorts for next season.