At various times over the years, the fact there’s a fairly extensive video library in Boylan Talks Sport HQ has surely got a mention. That and match programmes. The latter are actually quite the big deal. As was discovered when attempts were made at re-arranging storage of same. People so set in their ways they probably reckon you should still have to ask permission to use the toilet got into an awful kerfuffle.
Anyway, back to the videos. As with any collection of anything, there are especially treasured artefacts therein. The crown jewel of which is the tape of the four games between Meath and Dublin from all of 30 years ago now.
The middle of the trilogy against Kildare in 1997, Dawn Run’s annexation of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the moving, magnificent Waiting For Houlihan are and will be forever in front rank.
There’s absolutely no doubt as to what’s in second place either. A recording of the rugby game between Ireland and England at Croke Park in the 2007 Six Nations Championship followed by a documentary about the first two rugby games ever played at GAA HQ. As a step-by-step guide to and explanation of all of the above, you will get no better than the memoir of Fine Gael MEP agus iar-Uachtaran CLG Sean Kelly Rule 42 And All That.
The great Kerry administrator was the brain behind one of the most ground breaking, common sense decisions ever taken in Irish sport. Or life. Eddie O’Sullivan was in charge of the Irish team at that time. Though he had overseen a first Triple Crown in 19 years in 2004, he certainly wasn’t the most commanding presence in the dressing room, so, the players – who towered over him, in a lot of ways, ran their own show themselves.
Never more so than in the iconic clip above when the man mountain that is Paul O’Connell implored his colleagues to employ “Manic aggression” and to “Put the fear of God” into the French on the first occasion rugby was ever played in Croke Park and that he “Want(ed) them standing back wondering what the f*** is going on here”. Chances are at that exact moment the lads around him were thinking the same thing. But are you going to be brave enough to ask the question?!
It has often been said in this seat previously that it’s a fair indicator that somebody has ‘made it’ when their name readily transcends their area of expertise.
Think about it. People that wouldn’t know a horse from a hen know of Ruby. Ditto Katie (Taylor, boxing) or Roy (Keane, soccer). Switch the conversation to rugby and Paulie is the exact same. Maybe, initially at least, not as much as ROG or BOD, but over time.
Granted, some of that was to the fact that he began to appear on television ads for a company of which he is a part – PINERGY – and his involvement in other advertisements, but, for me at least, aside from his gargantuan contributions on the field, those few minutes befor the France game in 2007 encapsulate when he was the joint most influential Irish of a generation. The other? O’Driscoll or Sexton. If you can split them you’re better than me.
O’Connell’s departure for France, ironically, felt like the end of something. The man who began his rugby journey in the black and amber hoops of Young Munster had becone its brighest shining exponent.
To the extent that there were myths and proclamations attached to the legend. Undoubtedly the greatest being the theory that ‘Superman wears Paul O’Connell pyjamas’!
If he does, he may go shopping again. The biggest disappointment for yours truly when he took himself (but not the horse!) to France was that the Munster management dream team I’d always envisioned – O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara – wouldn’t now happen.
Funnily, though, even down in Munster, the general feeling has always been that O’Gara was more interested in the Ireland job. Wrongly in my view, but that’s a tale for another day. Presuming that is the former Cork Con player’s mindset, you wonder will he start making tracks for home given that Paulie has now joined Andy Farrell’s entourage as Forwards Coach to the national team.
Whatever happens next, it has certainly stoked what admittedly was slightly dwindling interest in affairs in green. Purely because – with the exception of the brilliant Leinster duo Caelen Dorris and Hugo Keenan – things had gone a bit stale.
O’Connell’s re-appearance on the horizon will certainly knock that out of the situation. Or scare the players into playing a bit better. It will surely put the fear of God into the opposition too!