Profiling the Ireland Bagman.
His job as Bagman to the Irish National side began in 1995 and it has taken him to almost every corner of the globe. He’s been to Argentina (twice), USA, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Samoa, Poland, Romania, Italy.
A pupil in Terenure College, along with the likes of Michael Mahoney, Colm Jenkinson, Pat Tormey and the late Dr Michael Smyth, that school not only gave him an education but also the name of Rala which has stuck with him to this day I was in class one day struggling to spell my name in Irish and got as far as, r a l a, couldn’t remember the rest of it, it was stuck up on the board, so from then on I was known as Rala..
After finishing playing – he was a hooker – he began doing the bag’ for Terenure College RFC around 1983, asked by Paul Joyce and Barry Coleman and was subsequently approached by Tom Morrissey to look after a Leinster U20 side that included Conor O’Shea, Shane Byrne, Martin Ridge and Niall Woods. That 20s side shared the championship with a Munster side that included Keith Wood.
After that he moved into the Leinster Senior team under coach Jim Glennon, continuing to combine that role with his Terenure work and then, following a meeting with Gerry Murphy in the Burlington Hotel he moved up to the National side where he has remained ever since.
It’s a full-time job and one he loves passionately. I don’t really consider it a job because I enjoy it so much. It’s a pastime, a passion. It’s busy enough when you’re on the road. You try to help the players as much as you can.”
“There is a downside in that you become attached to players, that’s only human nature, so it’s tough when players either retire, get injured or leave the squad. – he won’t use the word dropped – .
For example Peter Clohessy is retired now and that’s a big down for me. He is a good mate. I miss Claw. The other downside is being away from home.”
My favourite place outside Dublin is Connemara and I frequently visit Inisbofin where I stay with Mrs Murray in the Doonmore Hotel. I’ve great friends over there and then I would spend time on Renvyle Peninsula I’ve a great friend from schooldays, Charlie Sinnott who lives in Oughterard. So I tend to spend a good deal of time there. I don’t really have time for hobbies as such, I enjoy all sport but when I’m over there I’ll often go off in a currach and do some fishing.”