...Ireland'sTriple Crown-winning captain of 1982 and '85, Ciaran Fitzgerald andMick Quinn, the wily out-half who won 10 caps for Ireland, raisedplenty of smiles with their memories from the 1970s and '80s...
Quibblingabout who is the younger - they were both born in 1952 with Mick theelder by five days - former Ireland internationals Ciaran Fitzgeraldand Mick Quinn had plenty to talk about when they faced RTI's DesCahill and the Irish Rugby Supporters Club at Lansdowne Road.
"The first game I watched here was in the mid-sixties. I was kind of steepedin GAA tradition in Loughrea. Hurling, football and boxing were themain sports. I came up when the Galway footballers won the three-in-a-row and askids, we worked through the three campaigns. And then we said we'dwatch a rugby match and it was Ireland-Wales and I remember saying tomyself: '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 lastyear in college in Garbally when they were stuck for a hooker, it wasFr. Kirby at the time - he's now a Bishop, he's been elevated since forspotting good talent!
"They were stuck for a hooker and I looked like the previous hookerthat was there, same build, same good looks and same speed! So that's when Iended up starting as hooker, I remember that match (Ireland-Wales) left a lastingimpression on me.
"My first international at Lansdowne was after the Australian tour - Igot capped in Australia on the 1979 tour, that was the one where we wonthe 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 Walesin 1980.
"I remember that one because it was one of my only try-scoringopportunities. I always fancied myself as a wing forward but I used tobreak from the front of the lineout and take on the out-half and Iused to do it 99 times out of a thousand.
"But this one time with the hands up, I managed to get a blockdown andI had to sprint a good 20 metres (Quinn: Don't mind him, it was aboutthree yards!) outsprinting everybody and with a flamboyant dive. Thatwas the start of it and there's been many happy days since.
"(In that team) there was Ollie Campbell, the out-half coming back fromAustralia, and Moss Keane. Willie Duggan, Fergus Slattery, JohnO'Driscoll, Philip Orr, Robbie McGrath was there.
"The forwards were called 'Dad's Army' because they were near the endof their careers. A lot of accomplished Lions, so I was the young cubgoing 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) twasagainst England, the last match of the championship, conditions werevery wet and heavy. We had a very light pack in '85, we had just cometogether as a team because the old team from '82 had been dismantledreally 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 - realgood class players playing a very exciting brand of rugby.
"And against England, because the weather was bad - we had scored earlyand they had come back - it just felt like the match was ebbing awayfrom us.
"But you know the one thing about the crowd that I would miss is as ahooker when you're going away to get the ball for a lineout - we didn'thave ball boys in those days - you're in amongst the crowd on thesideline and when you go in to retrieve the ball you get all thisencouragement 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 insideour 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 onBrian Spillane - and low and behold the great Brian grabbed it Gaelicfootball-style and off we went up the pitch.
"It was an incredible match and it was a fantastic climax to the seasonfor a team that shouldn't have won because most of the team were younglads really.
"I remember afterwards we came in to the reception area, you'd normallydo the radio and television interviews and then there was this furoreoutside the door and the security guy came in and said you'd bettercome outside, this had never happened to me before - I had to come backoutside, all the crowd were waiting, it was like something you'd see atCroke Park, and I had to stand on the seat, I remember it bucklingaway, and acknowledge everybody and back inside again. It was just afantastic 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 webeat them 19-5 in the final.
"We were pretty buoyant and then we had to play the Cadets after thatand yer man (Ciaran Fitzgerald) was trying to kill me! (Fitzgerald:That was the first and only time I played wing forward and then Irealised he (Quinn) talked his way through the whole match!)
"When you're at school you're playing with your peers. At that stage Ialways felt that your rugby career was a matter of how you hold backthe degeneration in your game because you come out of school almostperfect because you're so well coached in school.
"I enjoyed it and I thought it was great fun - the schools thing inLeinster rugby is fantastic - so we had that at Lansdowne Road and thenyou're immediately into playing for Lansdowne, then Leinster and thenmoving on to play for Ireland and it's a great ground from that pointof view.
"The first game I attended at Lansdowne was the 1959 Ireland-Walesgame, a draw. Mick English was out-half for Ireland that day. I watchedit from the terrace at the Lansdowne Road end, there was a sectionthere for schoolkids, and I remember coming out of the ground andsaying to myself: 'definitely I want to play for Ireland, without ashadow of a doubt that's what I want to do,' there was just somethingabout 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 historyof the ground and the two clubhouses in the corners, it gave you aspecial 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 rememberdistinctly that day, my old coach at Newbridge College, Fr. Heffernansaid: 'don't ever let anybody mess you around,' and I was being tugged ona certain part of my anatomy during a ruck and I turned around and Itook a swing at the first guy I saw and that was Walter Spanghero, theFrench captain. I acutally broke his nose. I apoloised to himafterwards because it was the wrong guy, it wasn't him - it wassomebody else!
"Ned Van Esbeck wrote in the paper, he sort of chastised me forpetulance. He was right because I shouldn't have done it, but I nevergot messed around with anymore!
"There were some of the greats on that Irish team. When I was on thatteam I was 19 or 20, and my wife, who was my girlfriend then, was stillat school! Willie McBride was Mr. McBride, and there was Mr. Gibson andMr. 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 scrumhalf, a great player too."
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