Monday, November 17, 2008
So order is restored to the world, we can sleep safely again, Bush is nearly gone out of the White house and it’s no longer cool to hate America. I can still hear the rejoicing screams coming across the choppy Atlantic now praising our new saviour a certain Mr Barak Obama. It's the turn up for the books, what was 8 years of horrible Republican rule in the US has been silenced by the success of a black Democrat in the Presidential race. I'm sure i'll wake up any day now. Black? PRESIDENT??!?! Oh America you bastion of progression you, I knew you were hiding there somewhere. But doesn't it all seem a little fishy to you? Yes there's been death threats/attempts and the race was [mostly] quite tight but I still get the impression that someone's having us on. What happened to all the Southern voters of the 'redneck' variety who'd as soon want to see a black president of their nation as they would see contact sports banned. Also what happened to the massive evangelical voters who generally vote staunchly republican? And what about the republican candidate, John McCain, who was disliked by a vast amount of republican politicians and had some rather strange policies for that of a right-leaning republican. And if McCain wasn't baffling enough as a presidential selection then what in the name of God we're we to make of that Sarah Palin issue. I simply can't believe that republican campaign officials would be stupid enough to allow Palin to be nominated as Vice Presidential candidate, I simply can't believe it, and if it was an honest mistake, which we'll never know, it must go down as the blunder of the century. Doesn't it seem like they just 'dropped' the campaign? Or it's as though they we're told to lose the fight, because sometimes losing is winning. But why I hear you ask? Why the hell not, I'd want out if was there too.
In a wind and rain drenched Thomond park Declan Kidney led out his team for the first time for what was to be an evening of pointless rugby. Ireland set the mood only a few minutes in when new boy Keith Earls slid over for a try and that was that. The rest of the night was a mess of Canadian defence and the odd handling error from the boys in green. The 55-0 score line was a testament to just how one sided the match was and one must think that if the rain had of kept away from Limerick that night it could have been a much greater deficit. But what was the point of such a match? Yes the ‘developing’ nations need a crack at the big boys and deserve to get a run out against the stronger world teams but the decision to play Canada, now of all times and especially first, was a terrible management error. Apart from the manger being able to see a few new faces on the pitch and testing out different combinations, the game against Canada was not only a waste of time but it also acted as a sort of false start to Kidney’s campaign. The manager had no real idea of how his team would play together going into last weekend’s clash against the All Blacks and was essentially flying blind into what would be Ireland’s first [real] test with Kidney at the helm. And boy did it show. Now don’t get me wrong, Ireland weren’t bad, not at all. But going forward there was nothing. Ireland defended well after wave upon wave of Kiwi attack and managed to gain a lot of turnover ball but quickly gave possession back to the opposition and lined up again to take another onslaught from the men in black. It was in fact ‘the world’s best number 10’, Dan Carter, that saved us in the opening half by missing a string of penalties that he would usually tuck away blindfolded. Eventually though Carter put one over the bar and the men in black finally had some return on their relentless excursions into the Irish half. But when O’Gara equalised a few minutes later even the most steadfast pessimist must of thought that Ireland may have their day, and then everything changed. As Brian O’Driscoll took off down the wing he launched a kick high in the air to chase on but was almost immediately infringed off the ball by a black shirt. Cheers of disapproval rang out from the crowd but the referee waved play on, moments later after New Zealand led a brisk counter attack Tommy Bowe chased back to knock the ball out of the hands of Richie McCaw as he reached out to put the ball down for a try, but the linesman quickly stepped in and ruled that Bowe had not tried to catch the ball but had purposely knocked it out of McCaw’s reach. The referee quickly sent Bowe to the sin bin and gave a penalty try and that was when all hope left the Irish fans. The second half was far less impressive. Tackles weren’t hitting quite as steadily as in the first half, the Kiwi’s made more and more breaks and eventually increased their tally to 22 points as most people prayed for the final whistle before they put even more on us. And what, you may ask, did we learn from all this? Very little in my opinion, Kidney still hasn’t made his mind up about selection issues and combinations and has a lot of creases to iron out if we are to save some face and beat the pumas on Saturday. Another worrying issue is Kidneys special fondness for the Munster players, personally I thought it wouldn’t come up at such a professional level but seemingly it has. For one we must ask if Tomás O’Leary was really the man for the job, would the more experienced Eoin Reddan not have slotted in better? And what about that decision of leaving Paul O’Connell on while he limped across the field, baffling. Which brings me back to my original point, Canada was only negative, it should have come last in the test series, if at all, it left Irelands new boss with no idea of how his players would fare in heavy competition and led us into a game against New Zealand in which no one had an idea of how we would play. Maybe now perhaps after the Kiwi’s burst our ridiculous bubble Kidney will see the errors and make the necessary adjustments. Otherwise forget about the six nations and once again we may see Irelands fabulous talent go to waste.