8 December 2005 Edition
No fighting mascots in an Ireland of Equals
Last Sunday was a bad day to get the bus to Navan. There was heavy traffic for much of the way due to the race meeting at Fairyhouse and for a while it looked like there would be time for only six pints before the match. Also on the bus were the Trinity College women's rugby team. Or most of them anyway. They were going to play a match against the Navan women's team. I went to the trouble of consulting the results. Unfortunately they were beaten 31-17.
There were more Sarsfield's supporters in the town than followers of Kilmacud Croke's. Another indication of the greater importance that 'the club' has outside of the capital despite the fact that Croke's have something like six times the number of playing members as Sarsfield's.
With the advantage of the strong breeze blowing into the O'Mahony's end, Croke's began well with points from Vaughan, Cosgrave and Davoren. For a while it looked as though they would easily overcome what appeared to be a nervry family.
Sarsfields emerged a different team after the break. This was mainly due to the introduction of Pauric Brennan who lost no time in stamping his mark on proceedings. Brennan ended the game as top scorer with four points, three of them from placed balls. Beginning to get on top at midfield, Sarsfields laid virtual siege to the Croke's goal for prolonged periods.
However, it was a siege in which the Croke's defence was like the 62nd Red Army at Stalingrad. Even though Sarsfield's twice reduced the margin to a solitary point, time was against them and you always felt that they would need a goal if they were to win. It was a goal that they never really looked like scoring thanks to cool heads and intelligent use of the ball by the Croke's backmen.
Sarsfield's defence was equally tight and prevented the Dublin side's much vaunted attack from scoring for nearly half an hour. Pat Burke and Liam McBarron kicked Croke's only scores of the half but they were enough to provide the breathing space that took them to their second Leinster title, and a tilt at Salthill-Knocknacarra in the All-Ireland semi-final in February.
McBarron deservedly won the Man of the Match award. In the last three matches when things have got tight, McBarron has won crucial ball, often deep in his own half, and provided much needed relief from pressure. Kinawley's loss is Stillorgan's gain. Sometimes Fermanagh-Dublin projects do work out!
After the match we debated the future of Kildare football with the lads from Two Mile House. So that didn't take long. Only messing now. Niall told us a good story about Glenn Ryan taking the wrong pair of tracksuit bottoms home from a Kildare training session only to have his wife find a condom in one of the pockets.
When Glenn used to come down to Portlaoise to train Ireland's finest, and myself, he was very much down on impure talk and would threaten to go home unless certain people stopped slobbering. As you can imagine, training sessions sometimes came to resemble a performance by Marcel Marceau.
So I can only imagine that he was both embarrassed and annoyed but am happy to report that the person who did own the offending article was duly rewarded the next time he turned up for training. I will forebear mentioning his name as I believe that his mother sometimes reads this paper and would be greatly disappointed.
Now that I think of it, why did he bring a condom to training in the first place? I suppose some people are incurable optimists. Which brings us back to the future of Kildare football.