Ireland Versus England: 557 And Counting

I’ll tell ya something now that’ll shake you up, Pat. If you took up rugby instead of playin the oul soccer and the GAA, you’d be up there on 557 points with myself and Johnny.

Ah, but Ronan…

No but Ronan about it, Pat! You’d be our equal, and you’d play agin England tomorrow to go top.

I loved playing in goal. Jackson was my hero. There’s no goalies in the rugby.

When did you ever hear of a goalie scoring 557 points, Pat? Tell me that, and if you did and if you do, I’ll eat my hat. Pure rubbish playing in goals, an anyway there’s no goals in rugby. It’s tries, conversions and penalties.

I saved two penalties once. Not at the same time. Two in the same game. We were up against…

I’m not hearing ya, Pat. Listen to me now, and listen good. Nothing ever came of been a goalie. Sweet fuck all. Wouldn’t ya like to be in the same bracket as the two of us?

Well, no actually. I wouldn’t. Soccer was my game and…

You’re a woeful gombeen, y’are. You’ll go down in history tomorrow if you score a few points. No matter if we win or lose. No matter if you’re shite for 75 minutes and you pop one over. History, I’m telling ya.

You were fair good yourself. Did you dream?

I was, but nah. I’m not in same class as you. You could’ve been the man. You were taken over by that Jackson lad. Shur, all he ever done was stop the team from been relegated every year, and three times he couldn’t even do that.

He played for England once.

Did he now? England! Shur, that’s not so much of a big deal, now is it? See what France done to them last week? The fans were wanting to leave early, but the stewards made them watch to the end.

Jacko was class, he was. He died last year.

Class, was he? Well, he’s not class right now. England are here tomorrow and they’ll be in that dressing room and they’re piss poor, they are. If you were to be running out in the green, you’d have them shaking with the trembles.

557 you say? That’s fair scoring. How many games would ye have played to notch up 557?

Don’t matter one bit, Pat. ‘Tis the headline in tomorrow’s paper I’d be keen to see. “de Búrca secures Grand Slam. All records broke.” The Cork Examiner will do a full page just on you and the record. They’ll give man of the match to one of the other lads, and they’ll praise the team to high heaven, but you get a page to yourself. Did Jackson ever get that? Goalies don’t matter. D’ya want another half pint of Cassilero?

Ah, go on so. I’ll play.

Wouldn’t doubt ya, Pat. You’ll play better with a double.

Ronan, ya eejit. Cassilero comes in a glass and there’s no such thing as a double.

There is today, Pat. I’m putting my shirt on you. Now, this has to be said so, I’ll say it twice. Don’t let me down. Just don’t let me down.

Will ya have something yerself?

No, I’ll be wanting a clear head. I want to see the look on Johnny’s face when you pass him out. The fecker’s been grinning at me all week. You just go out there and show me what ya can do. I’ll be commentating for some second-rate French radio crowd. Gotta keep a clear head.

Was the Grand Slam ever won in Dublin before, Ronan?

Nearly, a few times. Nearly. Tomorrow’s the day.

Vieira Sacked By Palace

Crystal Palace Football Club can confirm that Patrick Vieira has left his post as First Team Manager.

Three members of Patrick’s coaching staff – Osian Roberts, Kristian Wilson and Saïd Aïgoun – have also left the club.

Chairman Steve Parish said: “It is with enormous regret that this difficult decision has been made. Ultimately, results in recent months have placed us in a precarious league position and we felt a change is necessary to give us the best chance of retaining Premier League status.

“That said, Patrick’s impact since joining us in the summer of 2021 has been significant, and he is held in the highest regard by myself, and all of his colleagues. He led the team to a Wembley FA Cup semi-final and respectable 12th placed finish last season playing some exciting football, which was a challenging and crucial campaign for the club given the changes we made to the squad prior to his arrival.

“Patrick has given his all to the club, and we all thank him and his team for their service.

“We also wish Patrick, Osian, Kristian and Saïd the very best for their futures.”

The process to appoint a new manager is underway, and we will provide an update in due course. Dean Kiely will remain as goalkeeping coach.

Official Statement on CPFC site.

For my part, I enjoyed the style of football that he attempted to play. When it worked, it was exciting, but Palace haven’t won in more than ten weeks. Ultimately, results matter. Unfortunately, the money of the Premier League is too prescious to lose, and survival in this league tops everything. Despite all the money, Palace are earmarking a huge chunk of it to the redevelopment of Selhurst Park, whereas myself (& Vieira most likely) would have preferred it be spent on exciting new players.

Dungarvan Triathlon 2014

My brother Ray was at the 400-to-go point, and as I passed he gave his usual advice. “Don’t have a lame finish! Go HARD”. So I did.

Originally posted on one of my bike blogs. Reproduced here by my kind permission.

Saturday June 28th, 2014.

Another wonderful day on the sunny south east! Saturday June 28th, 2014 will go down as a red-letter day in Dungarvan sporting annals as the local Tried & Tested Triathlon Club held its inaugural Dungarvan Triathlon at the beautiful Clonea beach. The sun shone brightly, and calm sea conditions brought a huge sigh of relief to the organising committee and competitors alike. This was my first triathlon. To be sure, I was not alone as there were 42 club members taking on the challenge for the first time. We had trained well, under the watchful eye of experienced triathletes. We had taken on board all the hundreds of tips and tricks. We had, in short, been tried and tested.

I arrived just after 8.30am, to find that the place was buzzing. As we racked our bikes, prepared our gear and double-checked everything, there was plenty time to relax and chat. For me, this was a great way to calm the little floating butterflies. However, as briefing time approached, we turned slightly inward and the banter lessened. I went for a short jog on the beach with Paddy, very short really. I was happy just to walk back at my leisure to get into my wetsuit. Following our safety briefing by Dave, we walked to the far end of Clonea beach and entered the water for a few minutes of acclimatisation. I remembered the advice: use this time wisely. Warm up, swim for 10 / 20 seconds, stand, stretch, relax, repeat. No time for chatting now. This was it! Months of training just for this moment. I had decided to swim on the right edge of the group, as there was a slight tailwind and current in my favour. Overall, my swim went well. We were in the expert hands of 22 kayakers. For the first time I noticed that my breathing was better, and I was able to swim longer sections with my head in the water. I did take my little sculling breaks on my back every now and then, and was pleasantly surprised that when I passed the final buoy at 600 metres I was not as tired as in previous training swims. The final stretch back to the beach was easier, and I was focused entirely on the Powerbar flags at the water edge. Finally, after 27 minutes or so I emerged. The photo shows how much it took out of me, but in fact, I recovered quickly for the bike section.

Section 1; 750 metre swim
Section 1; 750 metre swim

This being my strongest sport, I pushed as hard as possible into a very slight headwind to Stradbally. I eased into it to Ballinroad roundabout, and increased the effort near Garranbane. The climb to Ballyvoile hurt me, and the heat was intense. From there to the quarry after the river Tay I was able to recover a bit, knowing that the part of the course where it’s easiest to lose time is from the Tay bridge to the turning point at Five-Cross-Roads. And therefore, I was thrilled to see that the course was slightly shortened for safety reasons. The return to Clonea was fast, with a lovely tailwind, and I pushed very hard. Unfortunately at the Crooked Bridge near Ballinroad there were two cars in my path. In all fairness, they had nowhere to go as they had cyclists ahead. I eased off through the chicane, and pushed on hard to the roundabout. Here too, the same situation. I was a bit cheesed off, but looking back now, it gave me  just a very short breathing space to prepare myself for an all-out assault on the final flat section to Clonea.

At Ballyvoile
At Ballyvoile

My transition to the run was quick. But the run itself was not! I had very little left, and plodded around slowly. The spectators and marshals along the route kept me going, and as it turned out, only one competitor passed me. My brother Ray was at the 400-to-go point, and as I passed he gave his usual advice. “Don’t have a lame finish! Go HARD”. So I did…and I was glad I did! I raced it. The huge crowd for the last 100 metres was really special, as I heard my name shouted over and over by unknown unseens! I did indulge at about 20 metres to the line as I clapped over my head…and finished with a sprint. Tried & tested. Passed!

Immediately after, I met up with many many fellow club members and marshals. We shared stories and high-fives. We waited to cheer home other club members. We sipped, munched and chatted. Triathletes all! Joey in Clonea Leisure Centre offered me a bed, but a stint in the jacuzzi followed by a long cold shower brought me back to life, and again as we lingered in the warm sunshine, posing for remembrance photos, I enjoyed Ivor’s delicious ice-cream.

Couldn’t have managed without my biggest supporter

The presentations took place shortly after, again in blazing sunshine, and as I cycled slowly back home, I was able to take it all in. Later that evening, we enjoyed a great get-together at the Moorings in Dungarvan, as we listened to the playback over and over again, until such time as voices became slightly blurred and the effort of the day seemed to take its toll.
No matter, roll on 2015.

Tried & Tested Triathlon Club is in its infancy. Founded in 2012, this was its first hosting event. And what a super show it put on! Serious kudos to all involved, especially Dave, race director for the day.  Actually, that does him a disservice because he has worked tirelessly in this role since last Autumn. I recall cycling with Dave back in early spring, and what struck me was his determination to ensure that this new club would cater equally for the few on the top of the charts, for the many mid-table members and for the back-of-the-pack stars. Chapeau Dave! Your determination and vision brought 42 new members into triathlonland.
I want to thank all the club members who helped out. One competitor mentioned that there were nearly as many marshals as athletes. Their support and encouragement was immense! Finally, I want to say a very big thank you to two wonderful coaches….Ann in Clonea Leisure Centre and Natalie. Ann got me started in mid-December. Three lessons, then she told me to go and practice what she taught me! It took me until mid-January to swim a length of the pool, and I never looked back after that. Natalie taught a weekly lesson right through the spring. She coaxed, encouraged, pushed and guided me and many others. But here’s the thing: I specifically remember one session back in March when I was close to packing it in. Natalie had the insight to just leave me alone and muddle my way through my doubts! By early June, although my swimming stamina was still missing, I KNEW deep down that I would complete my first triathlon.
Tried & Tested. PASSED.

Finally, finally: I thought it was very fitting that Tried & Tested Triathlon club made to make a financial contribution to Dungarvan Bay and Helvick Head RNLI Fundraising Branch.

Our efforts also help others
Our efforts also help others

So, what comes next? Lots of cycling in July and August as I prepare for Endurance Challenge 2068. I will be cycling the nine counties of Ulster and the six of Munster over five days in mid-August.

Monday 11th: Armagh Town to Derry City.
Via: Banbridge, Antrim.
Distance: 174km or 7-8 hours

Tuesday 12th: Derry City to Enniskillen.
Via: Strabane, Donegal Town, Ballyshannon.
Distance: 139km or 6-7 hours

Wednesday 13th: Enniskillen to Armagh.
Via: Cavan, Castleblayney.
Distance: 124km or 6.5-7.5 hours

Sunday 17th: Cork City to Limerick City.
Via: Killarney.
Distance: 172km or 8-9 hours

Monday 18th: Limerick City to Cork City.
Via: O’Briens Bridge, Cahir, Lismore
Distance: 209km or 8-9 hours

For triatltetes out there, what are your memories of your first one?
Did you compete at the Dungarvan Triathlon? Want to share your experience?
Why is an important day called a “red-letter-day”?

Group 3: Back To The Future

Group 3 had a real revival feeling today. A fabulous and very enjoyable 78km spin. Roll on the Spring.

I cycle most Sundays with Dungarvan Cycling Club, and specifically with Group 3. Since 2019, Covid played havoc with our collective cycling, and whereas other groups within the club found ways to muddle through in order to survive, recover and even thrive, our Group 3 struggled and almost ceased to exist.

In the Autumn of 2022, some wise men decided to formulate a plan to bring the group back from the dead, rise from the ashes and pick a path that will allow us return to our days of former fun. The process seemed slow, yet we knew we were going in the right direction. In particular, the last two Sundays were exciting. The banter and group bonding was very evident. Today, we finished Chapter One of the journey. There will be many exciting chapters to be written in the months ahead.

Here’s the Captain’s Report:

Group 3 had a real revival feeling today. Declaring the coffee stop distance, people could choose to start or finish with the group, or as in the case for two of us we started, took a short cut to the coffee stop and finished with the group. We had 8 starting out heading east into a brisk south-westerly to Durrow, Lemybrien and on to Crehana where the group turned for Kilmacthomas. On the way to the coffee we picked up one more and two more joined after the coffee. The now 10 strong group headed to 5x roads with more riders than we started with, clipping along with a tail wind finally. A fabulous and very enjoyable 78km spin. Roll on the Spring.

Thanks very much Eric.

A Few Showers & Exciting News

I managed to make time yesterday to scoot up a few hills. The forecast looked dodgy and it turned out to be exactly that, but with no cold whatsoever.

The first shower arrived early as I scooted up Strikes Hill. The great thing about this hill is that there’s protection from the usual south-westerly wind. I whistled away to the music of Hanz Zimmer. Light rain fell softly for the first few tracks.

On the descent to Geoish, I needed to concentrate fully because of the wet road surface. My whistling stopped, but the sun soon shone again. Onwards I sped merrily up hill and down dale to Clashmore, Aglish and back to Clashmore again.

It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. My last climb was the Mountain Road. This is a definite favorite of mine, and there was a mighty tailwind to help me along.

Just before the rain arrived, I took a call from my daughter, Meabh. She has an uncanny knack of calling when I’m on the challenging part of a hill! Her news was just the best. She and Jimmy are within weeks of moving in to their first home, constructed mostly by themselves. Today, the electricity was connected. Now the clock is running for first big bill! Such excitement.

The rain turned heavy for the last half hour of the spin. No cold. A perfect afternoon of enjoyable scooting.

Link to all the data. No details of the fun and pleasure, unfortunately.
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