We will begin this column with our take on the rugby match last Saturday between Ireland and Japan. Firstly, in my opinion, Ireland did not play badly, but yet Japan played a terrific game.
What most irks me about all this is the general assumption in the week leading up to last Saturday’s match that “Oh yes, Ireland will have no trouble, they will demolish Japan so easily.”
Every commentator, whether in print, on TV or on radio, and even on the morning talk-through before the match, had the same tale; it was about the margin of win that Ireland would have over Japan. After all, one of the commentators loftily said, “We must be decent to our opponents and give them a fair chance.”
Fair chance my eye! What everyone seems to have forgotten is that Japan is an ancient nation – indeed, like Ireland is – but it is a nation rooted in warfare, warriors and winning, and on this occasion they were about winning.
The second thing which I think was never taken into account was that Japan was playing on home ground with a huge Japanese audience willing them on, every bit as an Irish audience would if we were in the Aviva Stadium. Japan had that big plus.
Another plus they had was that they were used to humidity. The Irish team were not, and when you looked at the faces of the Irish players as the game went on, sweat was coursing down their cheeks and their bodies, whereas the Japanese looked cool and collected.
Make no mistake about it, Japan were a good team, in good nick, in home circumstances, and building on a long tradition. Ireland had none of those attributes.
So what do we do now? Well, I’ll tell you what we don’t do between now and Thursday, when Ireland are playing Russia: we do not go about saying how much we will beat Russia by, and how easily they will be demolished.
Ireland behaves in an arrogant, confident fashion, and the media of all types back that up as well, as if to say “Yes, of course Ireland are good.” Let’s be calm. I hope Joe Schmidt puts them through their paces, and I hope we see some of the old verve back. But above all, I hope that we have a humble attitude towards our opponents, not one of lording it. There is no need whatsoever for that.
Sport, like many other things in life, is psychological drama, and it is how you approach it as much as how you play it that delivers a message and gets a result.
Yes, it was an uncomfortable game for Ireland, particularly towards the end of the first half; one could see easily that Japan were on a roll. They were well able to tackle and well able to defend.
Enough about that match: we await Thursday to play Russia, and I hope the Irish team are in a humble mood. Meanwhile, we are getting great TV and great enjoyment.
Readers will remember that last week I spoke about going to Sligo to the Ray MacSharry ‘This Is Your Life’ event.
It was a truly memorable occasion, with so many voices from those who had worked with Ray MacSharry – the strong local organisation, the European dimension of those who had worked with him when he was Commissioner for Agriculture, but above all such a wave of genuine regard and goodwill towards a man who has served Ireland in so many ways and still maintains such a sharp intellect and an easy-going manner towards everybody.
It was a terrific, enjoyable night, and it was great to meet so many old friends and indeed to make some new ones as well.
Well done to Ray: you have truly done the State terrific service.
Readers, a big event this Friday: it is on that day that the Junior Cert results will be issued. They are over three weeks late this year because of the huge amount of appeals regarding the Leaving Cert which, of necessity, slowed up the whole process. Be that as it may, they will be out on Friday and of course will bring their due amount of laughter and tears.
The Junior Cert is important, because it marks the milestone into senior level at secondary school, and also because the results of that exam will mark out the choices which young people will take for their senior cycle. That is the only thing I feel is wrong with the late results – that some students will have embarked on a particular course which now they wish to abandon or change following the Junior Cert results.
Be that as it may, it is a big joyful occasion, and I am sure that young people will use the event to have an enjoyable celebration, but with due regard to their health and wellbeing, and that of others in their company.
Last week in Dublin I was involved in the retail banks’ announcement of Fraud Awareness Week, in which everyone, particularly older people, are being exhorted to be careful with their bank details, their PIN details, and any of their financial dealings. Do not on any account give those details over the telephone to anyone who rings you.
Keep those details sacred to yourself; they are your property, and only for you to talk over with the person in the bank when you go into the bank.
I was glad to be invited to be the ‘public face’ of the campaign.
Next Monday October 7, the Fraud Awareness Campaign will be in Athlone in the Radisson Hotel at 11am. People who are interested in the subject will come along, where there will be people from the Garda Fraud Detection Unit, An Post, active retirement groups, and many others who are determined that fraudsters will be wiped out.
Financial fraud is a worldwide phenomenon, and at any time, in any country, there are experienced crooks carrying it out and unlawfully defrauding people. So be careful, be secretive, and be aware.
I hope to see many of the readers next Monday morning at 11am in the Radisson Hotel in Athlone.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go fóill.