Some weeks ago – as the first instalment of Brian O’Driscoll’s long goodbye was playing all across Ireland – his dad Frank suggested America as his son’s likeliest destination post-rugby.
Doctor Frank, from a Northside Dublin family well known for its rugby prowess even before Brian first hit the headlines, even went so far as to suggest that Hollywood would be the next port of call for one of this country’s greatest ever sportsmen.
Before we go any further with this story, it should be pointed out that Brian is no actor – he’s a professional rugby player, of course.
He’s not one of those prima donna soccer players like Daniel Sturridge who can do a great impersonation of a man being pole-axed as he did when Nimanja Vidic was sent off in the Manchester United-Liverpool game on Sunday without even touching the striker as he went down for a penalty!
But Mrs. O’Driscoll, otherwise known as Amy Huberman, is a highly regarded thespian on this side of the great sea that divides our land and your current abode.
And Ms. Huberman, as she likes to be known when she’s at work, is tipped for greater things if she ever decides to try her toes on the other side of the Atlantic so to speak.
Up to now, Brian’s role as Ireland’s best ever rugby player and the demands placed on his time by multiple-European champions Leinster – coupled with the recent arrival of baby daughter Sadie – have kept Ms. Huberman away from Hollywood.
Currently starring in Chris O’Dowd’s series Moone Boy, as a hippy and flirtatious teacher, she knows well that a couple of months or so from now Brian’s hand stitched adidas boots will be hung up for the last time in the Leinster dressingroom, and Mr. and Mrs. O’Driscoll will be free to go wherever the whim takes them.
When Doctor Frank suggested America as the couple’s next port of call, it was assumed by all and sundry that the pair would head for Los Angeles and Brian could — as Ireland coach Joe Schmidt suggested after Saturday’s win in France — act as a house husband while his wife chased the American Dream.
Some of the papers even suggested that Brian and Amy could become best buds with Robbie and Claudine Keane, the current hot Irish couple on the Sunset Strip.
With United fan Brian something of a soccer player in his youth whenever rugby allowed according to pals, he could even try out for the LA Galaxy and make a few bob on the side while Amy enhances her acting career. Stranger things have happened.
Or so we thought until Monday night when, less than 48 hours after a famous Irish win in the Stade de France and on the very ground where that French cheat Thierry Henry robbed our World Cup dream, another possible American dream came Dricco’s way.
As we celebrated a Six Nations title that looked really unlikely after the opening game against Scotland in my eyes at least as these pages read previously, another Irish export called Sheamus took to the WWE wrestling ring in America in his role as one of the world’s top wrestlers – at least that’s what Irish Voice editor and Sheamus mega-fan Debbie McGoldrick tells me he is!
Like so many more back home and all across the world on the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Sheamus wanted to pay his own tribute to the retiring genius that is Brian O’Driscoll.
He did so by wearing a number 13 Ireland rugby shirt into the ring for his fight with Titus O’Neill live on American television.
And he did so again with a Twitter tribute on his @wwesheamus when he posted a photo of his jersey with BOD 13 emblazoned across the back.
Some 1.32 million people follow Sheamus on Twitter and they will have seen the tweet in response from BO’D himself, @BrianODriscoll, when he said, “Serious shout out from you fella.”
All of which is very nice and very heartening on a great weekend for Irish sport.
But it is Sheamus’s reply to Brian that really intrigued me when he wrote: “Hear ya @BrianODriscoll, maybe with a few months off u’ll miss the big hits. I’ll keep a pair of No.13 spandex nicks aside just in case ;)”
That response got me working on one of my world famous conspiracy theories, the sort of theory that works along the lines of the old saying that just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get out!
What if Sheamus knows more than we do about Brian O’Driscoll’s next move?
What if his decision to wear that number 13 Ireland rugby jersey on national television in America and expose the Dricco brand to the WWE world and his million plus fans on Twitter is all part of a big effort to get Dricco into professional wrestling?
Maybe it is Brian O’Driscoll who is going to make the professional move to America? Maybe he is the one with the career plans for LA and not his actress wife Amy?
After all, Dricco knows all about taking really big hits from his days with Ireland and Leinster, and very few of them are as pre-planned or as choreographed as they are in wrestling – cue hundreds of letters of abuse, the first one coming from Debbie…..
And what if Doctor Frank was hinting at a WWE experience for his son Brian when he first spoke of a flight to the west coast of America all those weeks ago?
We need to know. If Brian is going to become a wrestler he should tell us. Sheamus should let us in on the secret.
Maybe Ireland’s most capped rugby player is going to follow in the footsteps of Ireland’s most capped soccer player?
If he’s going to become Robbie’s understudy in the MLS, we deserve to hear it before he retires from Leinster at the end of April.
Or maybe, Sheamus just wanted to do what every Irish man, woman and child wanted to do this past weekend and say thank you to Brian O’Driscoll for a great career and a lifetime of service to the Irish cause.
Dricco, more than anyone else, brought rugby into every Irish household over the last 15 years. His brilliance, ability and charisma turned a protestant middle-class private schools game into a sport the whole country can relate to. And he did it as a Northsider.
He probably even did more for Sheamus here at home with the coverage his tribute got in the Irish media on Tuesday than anything the red head ever did in a WWE ring.
His likes, as Mike Ross said after the game on Saturday night, will never be seen again. And it deserves to be celebrated across the globe.
Thanks for the memories Brian. And good luck with the future – even if it’s in a wrestling ring!
(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)
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