I haven’t been the same since Saturday’s victory and its aftermath.
I’ve been difficult to live with. I’ve had a secret compulsion that can’t be spoken about. I’ve been flatulating for Munster. Yes: breaking wind all round the house as a consequence of the match.
This is the full story:
I left Cork on Saturday morning at 1015 with my system intact. I passed Blackpool and noticed the huge Munster rugby shirt pinned to the outside of the shopping centre. This was the first extravagant gesture of support that I’d seen in Cork. There had been a rush of flags on Friday, designated “Red Day”, an exponential rush: in Douglas shopping centre flags on cars went from one to four and inside about one shop in six sported the colour. Only the Irish Examiner, a Cork produced newspaper, stood out from the crowd of restrained, modest rugby support for which Cork is renouned.
The twisty road to Limerick
(”The rocky road to Dublin”) had its usual processions. (Those who say that Irish roads are haunted by speeding drivers must be on roads I don’t know. Every time I drive I find myself in behind a long line, in behind a lorry, tractor, or someone who feels safer out in the middle of the road preventing anyone from passing.)
But I got to the brother’s house just in time before 12. The taxi to take us into town was ordered for 12. It couldn’t come until 1220 because of the traffic around town. We knew O’Connell Street was pedestrianised for the big screen that proved a match winner. Brother No 2 directed the driver to pick up two other lads and we four hit town in good time for a meal by the river. Three beef stroganoffs, one pork, one pint of guinness and bottle of “red” wine later and we were primed.
Of course we were each in our personal red
There were people settling down to stay in the restaurant for the duration; there were others, notable one georgous woman, passing through, loading up the soakage.
The most important matter was to make sure we had prime position in Myles Breens.
If anyone had commandeered that spot, there was likely to be not so much a stand-off as an early Munster ruck. Our little group possessed a formidable front row, and I’m good at putting it in like Stringer. And brothers No 3 & 4 would be on hand to pile in, because this was a real male family affair.
Strategy is key. Kidney the influencer. We got one person to occupy five stools, so that we could survey the action. I was intent on joining Magnum for the day.
You can see plenty of photographs of what it was like by clicking on to “The Limerick Blogger” site. I focussed on “dogs for Munster” and the guards, and the inside of Breens at key eruptions.
Eventually they’ll appear on “Flickr”.
A couple of pints went down well before kick off.
Fortunately I didn’t get into a round, so I was able to speed ahead and be totally blotto by half time and slept through the entire second half.
Alternatively, I was able to pace myself nicely, drink a pint for every Munster try, and two for Stringer.
Suffice to say that I photographed myself with tears rolling down my cheeks, highlighting my double chin. I had no shame. I shed tears with the best of them.
When my first marriage was ending, I wasn’t able to cry.
I craved the release of tears. There have been other times too when I’ve been so miserable that it would have been a blissful relief to have cried like a baby. Oh, if only I could have cried like a woman, I’d have been a better man.
But, without inhibition, I cried for Munster, I cried for the dead generations of supporters and players, I cried for the little ones who were there today, for their futures, for their pride and inspiration. I cried for my own joy, for all the reflected glory that I could muster. I wept with strangers: I remember gripping the hand of a man I’d never seen before, as if we were blood, and squeezing my joy with his in an orgiastic celebration: we are the champions, we are all champions… Whether you be in Cardiff, Limerick, Cork, Dublin, Moscow, Biarritz, Brisbane, Scottsdale… we are the champions. Breens the venue, pints your only man.
From there it was onwards and upwards.
Out of Breens onto the streets. On the streets until they emptied enough to reveal litter by the bucketful.
A parish victory. This was no passive crowd. Everyone felt revived, renewed, relieved. If it had gone the other way… doesn’t bear thinking about.
One of the guys dropped back to go drinking with another crowd while we went on to the other screen, out in the suburbs, a pub where there was a band playing and loads of people , supporting both Toyota and Bank of Ireland. There was no discrimination. It didn’t matter when you got your jersey: you were all Munster, all Ireland, all Europe.
The word was that MUNSTER EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD, that phrase the catchcry.
Pints for O’Gara, pints for Horan, pints for Stringer… these were people honouring heros, drinking fatted calves to Chuhullan’s sons. (You better check that spelling.) Brian Boru was risen again. All the myths and mythmakers were abroad loose and thriving. I can tell you that there were 150,000 Munster supporters in Cardiff Millenium Stadium, at latest count in 2007. People who weren’t there were there. This was the mightiest dream imaginable.
One last pint for the road.
One more hug. One more bit of mad passionate love in the corner with a complete stranger. Oh, it wasn’t bad. I suppose you could say it was OK. I must not forget the art of understatement that I spent 30 years learning in England…
Back to brother’s house for soakage and nothing better than a superb fillet steak that could have been cut from O’Connell’s arse. I remember how juicy it was and how the juice of the steak mingled with the juice in the mouth of victory.
Brian was on in the background. Brian Kennedy for Ireland in Eurovision. I watched him sing. Watched him strive to summon up that same committment that had driven “The Fields of Athenry”.
Then I fell asleep and woke up when it was all over.
Clueless as to how many votes he got. I felt it was only fair to let some others win.
After you’ve won the Triple Crown and the Heineken Cup, you need the generosity of heart to let Finland win something at last.
Today, a cloudy but dry Cork day, I still have that memory. Reinforced about every half hour. It was indeed an extraordinary, flatutabulous event. And I must admit to a private peccadillo: all these farts for Munster are sacred to me. I will not fight them.