Let me set the scene. I’m an armchair fan who has been won back to the joys of live (as in actually being at the game) rugby. I played in the pack until the physio made me retire young, thus putting an end to years of delusions about donning the green! Now (to quote the great Con Houlihan) read on.
I watched the Magners game up at Ravers last Friday on Setanta.
I am a recent convert to Pay TV, having held my conscientious objectors views right up until Matt Cooper started presenting the RWC on TV3.
I was won over to Setanta by the fact that they boasted Nigel Starmer Smith on the payroll. I grew up listening to him enthuse about great rugby, no matter who was playing it, on the BBC in the 80s.
The pool game between the Boks and England in the RWC was a joy to listen to with Starmer Smith and John Robbie politely disagreeing with each other and both displaying a huge knowledge and enthusiasm for the game. While I’m on the subject the other positive from Setanta’s coverage was Jeremy Staunton.
He was insightful and accurate as the “colour” commentator to Starmer Smith for a number of games. More please from Mr. Staunton.
Anyway after the televisual delights of the Magners League last Friday night, I decided that my wife did not need me around the house the next day as she prepared a dinner for a few friends (a handful of friends but enough food to do the loaves and fishes in reverse).
Having got the pass I headed down to Anglesea Road to watch Belvo take on Shannon on a lovely autumnal Saturday in leafy Dublin 4 (You have to describe it as 'leafy' or they don't let you in).
It was the Belvo boys’ first foray into Division 1 in a while and you can’t ask for a sterner test than Mick Galwey’s men first up. There was trepidation amongst some of the Belvo faithful but the black and whites showed ambition and grit in garnering a losing bonus point. Shannon’s experience and nous prevented a shock result, though it would not have been daylight robbery if the Anglesea Road crew had pulled off the job.
It was a treat to stand on the sideline with the other souls (and there were a fair few there) and see some of the young talent coming through. Richie Leyden impressed for Belvo while Sean Cronin put in a few nice touches at hooker for Shannon and young Bennett at fly half looks a prospect.
Looking around the faces it was also a reminder of why one should get up and out to a club game more often. You could have traded a few words with Mick Galwey and Ollie Campbell on Saturday or asked Jim Sherwin his views on the new breed of commentator. I also realised that I had missed the alickadoos. The running commentary from the 'three wise men' next to me was great. Each one contradicting the other but agreeing that they were all right at the same time.
All told it was not a bad day. A tenner at the gate was good value. A pint and a sambo before the game, a bit of banter with the busload from Shannon, a few rugby legends on the sideline, a mix of good club players and raw talent on the pitch, a tight game, a well worked try from Belvo and a quick chat afterwards before home for dinner – and the wife was delighted to be rid of me for the day!