...Ireland's Triple Crown-winning captain of 1982 and '85, Ciaran Fitzgerald and Mick Quinn, the wily out-half who won 10 caps for Ireland, raised plenty of smiles with their memories from the 1970s and '80s...
Quibbling about who is the younger - they were both born in 1952 with Mick the elder by five days - former Ireland internationals Ciaran Fitzgerald and Mick Quinn had plenty to talk about when they faced RTI's Des Cahill and the Irish Rugby Supporters Club at Lansdowne Road.
"The first game I watched here was in the mid-sixties. I was kind of steeped in GAA tradition in Loughrea. Hurling, football and boxing were the main sports. I came up when the Galway footballers won the three-in-a-row and as kids, we worked through the three campaigns. And then we said we'd watch a rugby match and it was Ireland-Wales and I remember saying to myself: 'I could do that or I could play that game.'
"I didn't play the game for another three or four years, it was my last year in college in Garbally when they were stuck for a hooker, it was Fr. Kirby at the time - he's now a Bishop, he's been elevated since for spotting good talent!
"They were stuck for a hooker and I looked like the previous hooker that was there, same build, same good looks and same speed! So that's when I ended up starting as hooker, I remember that match (Ireland-Wales) left a lasting impression on me.
"My first international at Lansdowne was after the Australian tour - I got capped in Australia on the 1979 tour, that was the one where we won the two Test matches and I think we won eight out of the nine matches. We came back full of confidence and full of brim, it was against Wales in 1980.
"I remember that one because it was one of my only try-scoring opportunities. I always fancied myself as a wing forward but I used to break from the front of the lineout and take on the out-half and I used to do it 99 times out of a thousand.
"But this one time with the hands up, I managed to get a blockdown and I had to sprint a good 20 metres (Quinn: Don't mind him, it was about three yards!) outsprinting everybody and with a flamboyant dive. That was the start of it and there's been many happy days since.
"(In that team) there was Ollie Campbell, the out-half coming back from Australia, and Moss Keane. Willie Duggan, Fergus Slattery, John O'Driscoll, Philip Orr, Robbie McGrath was there.
"The forwards were called 'Dad's Army' because they were near the end of their careers. A lot of accomplished Lions, so I was the young cub going in at that time and no better way to start your career.
...Members of the Supporters Club are present as the special edition of Drivetime Sport is recorded...
"(Michael Kiernan's Triple Crown-clinching drop goal in '85) twas against England, the last match of the championship, conditions were very wet and heavy. We had a very light pack in '85, we had just come together as a team because the old team from '82 had been dismantled really in the forwards.
"So we had a very exciting back line and a very exciting back row. Nigel Carr, Philip Matthews, Brian Spillane, then we had Paul Dean, Keith Crossan, Trevor Ringland, Hugo McNeill, Michael Kiernan - real good class players playing a very exciting brand of rugby.
"And against England, because the weather was bad - we had scored early and they had come back - it just felt like the match was ebbing away from us.
"But you know the one thing about the crowd that I would miss is as a hooker when you're going away to get the ball for a lineout - we didn't have ball boys in those days - you're in amongst the crowd on the sideline and when you go in to retrieve the ball you get all this encouragement and you come back out recharged and ready to go again.
"It was the last ten minutes of the match I think and we were inside our 22, and we had practised this dropout, maybe 100 times all year, and it had never really worked for us but we called it - short ball on Brian Spillane - and low and behold the great Brian grabbed it Gaelic football-style and off we went up the pitch.
"We won the lineout, and we had this kind of move, this quick throw, so I threw a quick ball into Donal (Lenihan) at the lineout, he was jumping in the middle of the lineout, but the referee pulled us back, he said: 'no we weren't ready', so I said look we'll never get away with it twice, but I tried it twice and I threw it without a call and it worked again and the rest is history.
"It was an incredible match and it was a fantastic climax to the season for a team that shouldn't have won because most of the team were young lads really.
"I remember afterwards we came in to the reception area, you'd normally do the radio and television interviews and then there was this furore outside the door and the security guy came in and said you'd better come outside, this had never happened to me before - I had to come back outside, all the crowd were waiting, it was like something you'd see at Croke Park, and I had to stand on the seat, I remember it buckling away, and acknowledge everybody and back inside again. It was just a fantastic memory."
...Mick Quinn who had a close encounter with Walter Spanghero's jaw!...
"(My first playing memory of Lansdowne) Newbridge had won the Schools Cup, against Blackrock in the final here (at Lansdowne) in what was probably the biggest upset of all-time. 'Rock had never been beaten by anyone, they beat us 32-0 and then we beat them 19-5 in the final.
"We were pretty buoyant and then we had to play the Cadets after that and yer man (Ciaran Fitzgerald) was trying to kill me! (Fitzgerald: That was the first and only time I played wing forward and then I realised he (Quinn) talked his way through the whole match!)
"When you're at school you're playing with your peers. At that stage I always felt that your rugby career was a matter of how you hold back the degeneration in your game because you come out of school almost perfect because you're so well coached in school.
"I enjoyed it and I thought it was great fun - the schools thing in Leinster rugby is fantastic - so we had that at Lansdowne Road and then you're immediately into playing for Lansdowne, then Leinster and then moving on to play for Ireland and it's a great ground from that point of view.
"The first game I attended at Lansdowne was the 1959 Ireland-Wales game, a draw. Mick English was out-half for Ireland that day. I watched it from the terrace at the Lansdowne Road end, there was a section there for schoolkids, and I remember coming out of the ground and saying to myself: 'definitely I want to play for Ireland, without a shadow of a doubt that's what I want to do,' there was just something about the atmosphere.
"The ground itself is so famous it would remind you of maybe Fenway Park in Boston. Just a haggard old wooden structure. Just the history of the ground and the two clubhouses in the corners, it gave you a special feeling - I just loved playing there.
"The first international I played here was the last game of the season 1973 against France, we won 6-4. I remember distinctly that day, my old coach at Newbridge College, Fr. Heffernan said: 'don't ever let anybody mess you around,' and I was being tugged on a certain part of my anatomy during a ruck and I turned around and I took a swing at the first guy I saw and that was Walter Spanghero, the French captain. I acutally broke his nose. I apoloised to him afterwards because it was the wrong guy, it wasn't him - it was somebody else!
"Ned Van Esbeck wrote in the paper, he sort of chastised me for petulance. He was right because I shouldn't have done it, but I never got messed around with anymore!
"There were some of the greats on that Irish team. When I was on that team I was 19 or 20, and my wife, who was my girlfriend then, was still at school! Willie McBride was Mr. McBride, and there was Mr. Gibson and Mr. Slattery!
"I mean Mike Gibson was the greatest player I ever played with or against. He was fantastic and such a help, and Johnny Moloney was the scrum half, a great player too."
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