“Right lads get off my head, stand up, you have to watch this. This is your Moon Landing. You can tell your grandchildren you saw it happen live. Emily pull your nappy up. Yes Luke we can watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates in a minute.”
My parents kept myself and the older brother up late to watch Neil Armstrong’s one small step on a very grainy little black and white rented television in 69. I like to think I remember watching mankind’s giant leap as it happened but I have seen those images so many times since it’s hard to know for sure. Nevertheless I am very grateful they did, it’s a nice one to pull out in conversation with my younger siblings and friends.
I have just watched eighty minutes of the most extraordinary rugby match Ireland has probably every been involved in. I have been pummelled from the off by a two year old and a four year old. I have even performed a tricky nappy change without missing a phase. Normally I require relative peace and harmony while I concentrate on the play – today it hasn’t mattered a damn. I have been so engrossed, my match watching skills have been elevated to a whole new level of Zen.
Never before have we been such underdogs, so written off. One hundred years and we have never beaten the All Blacks. Our performance last week against Australia was ominous. New Zealand are on this unprecedented winning streak. They are of course the World Champions and the pundits have been saying they are better now than when the were crowned – “probably the best All Black team ever.” But then this is O’Driscoll’s last year and he has history with the Kiwis. All week a sheepish slightly embarrassed voice in my head had been suggesting that if ever the stage was set for perhaps the greatest upset in world rugby this was it.
One try an upset does not make. But it’s a try against New Zealand so it deserved to be celebrated with abandon. A lot of shouting at the television was followed by a slide on to the floor and some fist bashing of the ground. A long explanation to a couple of alarmed children ensued. “Daddy was in fact happy very happy. No I am not angry with the floor; even though it could do with a bit of a clean.” The second try had me beginning to believe. This time Luke and Emily weren’t quite so concerned by my behaviour. By the third try the unthinkable was on and I was going to win Kona for good measure – the whole shebang.
“Right Kids you might just see me cry in a second but they will be tears of joy. This is what being Irish is all about lads – we don’t win much but when we do its very special.” I can’t imagine Kiwis are too bothered these days. I am pacing the room and hyperventilating. The other two want to make a break for it – if they can’t watch Jake there are holes to be dug outside. I smother tackle them at the door and drive them back to the television. We look up … “Go on I’ll call you for tea.”
I won’t be winning Kona outright anymore but there is still a chance of an age group victory down the road. This year I am delighted to be teaming up with Wheelworx who have to my great delight come on board as sponsors. Thanks to Rob and Aish for having faith in me despite my advancing years. I intend to do a good bit of racing next season including more domestic races. Hopefully I can secure an entry to Roth this week when they open a few more slots. I have some unfinished business with that course, this time without the extra loop on the run. If I don’t get in and it’s a long shot with only a few places being made available I will certainly find another Iron distance race or two to do. The long distance stuff will always be my priority but keep an eye out for me in my orange and blue Wheelworx kit next year at a race or two near you. A few shouts of encouragement wouldn’t go a miss either – those shorter races hurt a lot.
Thanks also to Fingall Tri Club for inviting me up to Skerries last weekend to bore the ears off them for an hour about Ironman Racing. Apparently 25 of them have registered to do Roth. Hopefully I will see them there.