Keane & O’Callaghan Play For Barbarians
Munster pair Ultan O’Callaghan (Cork Con) and Killian Keane (Garryowen) were afforded the rare honour of representing the Barbarians last week. The game against the Combined Services (Army, Navy, Air Force) was played the Rectory in Plymouth, a game the Baba’s lost by the narrowest of margins, 27-26, watched by a crowd of around 7,500.
Speaking about the event afterwards O’Callaghan said, It was a great occasion for me. I was so proud to be representing my province and my club. My wife Carol and my mother Marie were over for the game, which just added to the occasion. I felt I played reasonably well and Killian had a great game. Doddie Weir was the captain and he spoke about the pride and passion in the jersey before the game. He said it was like playing for your country and he was right. It is something I will never forget.
As is their tradition the Barbarians concentrated on running rugby and spurned the opportunity to win the match when penalty chances – and there were plenty – were presented. Oh yes, we could have won the match in the end,” O’Callaghan said, ” because we had six or seven penalties in kickable positions but we just tapped and went instead. It was typical Baba’s rugby, running it from everywhere.”
The crowd gave us a standing ovation at the end of it.
With nothing at stake except pride and tradition, O’Callaghan and Keane found themselves in the unlikely position of being able to immerse themselves in what was a great occasion from start to finish. That was the great thing about it, confirmed O’Callaghan,there was no AIL points, no Celtic League or Heineken Cup
points at stake so we were able to go out and enjoy the pomp and ceremony as well as the game.
The preparation for the game was also a little unusual or certainly somewhat removed from what either have experienced when preparing for the club or provincial games as Keane explained.
They sorta outflanked us earlier on. Well, they had us up at seven am and off for a visit aboard one of the naval vessels. Then we were taken on a helicopter ride. It was really a brilliant day out but by the time the game came around we were knackered, well I was anyway.
And the game itself ?
Naturally enough we didn’t have much time together, said Keane, whereas the Combined Sevices were well drilled. They were really up for it, going all out for a win while we were throwing the ball around trying to play some stylish rugby. It was a great thrill to play in the game, a great honour really. And that commitment to style, something that would be very close to Keane’s heart paid off, with the Baba’s running in four tries, three of which were converted by Keane