It was one year ago that Jason Rose started a tradition of thanking various
people for their roles in bringing a National Championship to Boston. I
therefore feel compelled to do likewise but in a much more effusive manner
(see, using long words already), and without having a pint in my hand or the
noise of a crowded Green Briar in the background.
Firstly, please take a bow, Mr. Sean Kelly. Although you've put in a incredible amount of time and effort throughout the season, this weekend you decided to outdo yourself. For those who are not aware, while every other Wolfhound supporter cheered on their team on Saturday against Santa Monica, Sean forgo this, to stick himself up in a lofty perch above the second playing field to video-record the other semi-final for the Wolfhounds to look at on Saturday night.
The result of this? Several to choose from but my pick has to be, on one of many two-handed steals on an Austin lineout, Adam Thomas saying to AJ as he placed the ball down on our side - 'Hey AJ, I saw that on TV last night!' to which AJ replied as he protected the ball - 'Yep me too'. The value of knowing where the opposition is going to throw their ball - Priceless. Sean, I thank you.
Next, don't be shy and Mr. Gary Kavanagh please step forward. The man who has transformed the role of team manager to such an extent that Tom Lawlor has already correctly identified that whoever follows him faces an impossible task. As has been the case throughout the season, this weekend, no other team was nearly as well prepared as us. My favorite moment here was when before Saturday's game, I pointed to several cases of water, ice, oranges etc and I asked Gary were they ours? To which he replied ' No ours are already in the dressing-room, that's the back-up'. Yes, get this right, we had back-up Bananas! Gary, I thank you.
Right then, Mr. Teasdale, your turn. Get a haircut, step forward and take a bow. Ill-disciplined, unruly, argumentative, consistent in their inconsistency. Yes these are the Good aspects of the Wolfhounds. And yet Steve still turns up prepared for every training session, every game, and takes everything in stride. Winning this title required a variety of things, from a cool head to a tactically intelligent mind and with the balls to make some difficult decisions. The vast majority of us are not endowed with all of the above. Fortunately for us, we had a man on the sideline who is. For showing us the way to win and making it much easier to do so, Steve, I thank you.
To our supporters. The lot of ye. Before we took the field on Sunday I told the lucky starting 15 in the dressing-room that the National Championship would be won by those who wanted it more. We wanted it more because this is a club made up of good people and good friends. If a Charlie Smith is willing to travel from Maryland, a John Sally from Illinois, a Graham Healy from Florida. If a Kathleen Carey (cough cough) can drive a car load of strangers, a Simon Jacobson a car load of drunks or if a Stevie Durant can arrive (a la Mark Comerford) on the morning of the final; then we must have something good going for us. And when these friends make these efforts then this championship is not won by a team but by a club. From me and all the players, we thank you.
Ah yes the players. Almost forgot. When I say players I include everyone who has represented the club on the A, B or C side since last September when this season started. It includes those who played every minute of the two games at the weekend to those who played none. It includes all those who spent their Winter sweating through the Dave Williams workout program and their Spring traveling long or short distances to train and to play.
I have played rugby for 26 years (alongside Mr. Dowling since the age of 5) and have seen a number of highs and lows. Sunday afternoon at about 5pm as I stood in the middle of the pitch with a beer in my hand, a medal around my neck, and my friends and family all around me, I enjoyed my best moment in all those years of playing. I love this game more than is probably healthy and I cannot accurately describe how good I felt following the weekends' games - from Willie charging to Aaron tackling, from Ian swerving to Anthony throwing in (his 'going home' shouting is a different matter), I cherish it all as I hope you do. These special moments are rare and deserved to be enjoyed. Thank you.
John O'Kelly the voice of reason, Punter for inspiration, Clay for perspective, Declan Prenty for the best website by an amateur organization in the country bar none, Paddy Cashin for the best sporting pictures bar none, Doody for .......well, just being Doody. The list goes on and on and well, yes you guessed it - I thank you.
Winners are grinners and believe me I'm grinning. See you all in the Grinning Briar on Friday. Rambling Barry.