It was a wet and windy evening in leafy Ballsbridge but that did not deter hundreds of Supporters Club members turning out to meet Declan Kidney and members of the Irish coaching staff for an evening of chat and informal fun.
In the build-up to the opening stages of the Heineken Cup and as he prepares to name the Ireland squad for the forthcoming Guinness Series, Declan Kidney and some of his coaching team took time out to meet the members of the Supporters Club for an informal evening of chat.
This was the first major event of the 2008/09 season for the club and it kicked things off very nicely indeed.
The Grosvenor Suite in the Ballsbridge Court Hotel was the scene for the evening and as 7pm ticked closer, the audience was treated to a scene setting warm-up from the club’s very own rugby columnist Adrian O’Farrell.
Adrian’s regular columns for the club website are one of the most popular features online so it was a chance to meet the man behind the name and hear his views on the state of play in Irish rugby as Declan and his team prepare for November.
Scene set, the main event was served up. Declan, accompanied by Ireland team manager Paul McNaughton and forwards coach Gert Smal took to the stage.
MC for the evening was the IRFU Communications manager Karl Richardson, who was obviously well prepared with a series of questions submitted by members.
All three of our star guests spoken openly and honestly about the honour they feel in being appointed to their roles.
Asked what has kept him motivated down through the seasons, Declan replied simply: “I love the game, it gives you so much. Of course there are days when it feels like a tough job, when your team loses, but there are so many days when it is simply a joy to be out there.”
It was a very informal evening and a chance for members to find out more about the men in charge of the Ireland rugby seam.
Paul was well placed to contrast the growing demands on players against those he experienced when winning his 15 caps for Ireland (which included a winning tour to Australia).
Gert talked about his background in rugby, his career and his involvement with the World Cup-winning Springboks.
Then came the questions from the floor and all three men were happy to answer both the more personal and the tricky questions including one from a young and budding rugby journalist!
Supporters Club manager Barry Cunningham then presented the three men with their own membership of the club – THE PACK!
Supporters Club member Jeff Doyle was also presented with a jersey signed by Declan, Paul and Gert.
They were delighted to meet the members and sign plenty of autographs too.
The evening also saw the early unveiling of a new limited edition range of Supporters Club merchandise which proved popular with members and will be available to purchase online soon!