Rugby ace Ronan O’Gara makes us proud to be Irish


O’Gara brought us together in celebration of all that makes it good to be Irish and not for the first time. He was the right man in the right place at the right time.

That’s why we have to wish him well in his new life and thank him for the memories he provided in his old one. He deserves to succeed now, just as he succeeded with Ireland, Munster and Cork Constitution.

Thanks for the memories Ronan. And thanks for that night in Bristol.

(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)

Sideline Views
RUGBY: Jonny Wilkinson still has something special, and the England World Cup winner proved it as Toulon won the Heineken Cup with a surprise win over fellow French side Clermont Auvergne in Dublin on Saturday. A lot was made of the fact that Wilko was left out of the Lions squad for the forthcoming tour to Australia – he couldn’t commit to the full itinerary – but on current form he is well worth a call-up in the event of an injury to any member of Warren Gatland’s back line.

HURLING: It is hard to believe, but the great Henry Shefflin won’t start Kilkenny’s opening Leinster SHC clash with Offaly in Tullamore next month. It’s the first time since 1999 that a Kilkenny team won’t feature King Henry in a championship game, an incredible statistic about a quite incredible player. Shefflin is confident he will be back for some part of Kilkenny’s championship campaign – knowing the Cats that will run all the way to the All-Ireland final in September.

GOLF: Funny incident involving new champion Graeme McDowell in the quarterfinals of the Volvo Matchplay in Bulgaria of all places on Saturday when opponent Nicolas Colsaerts hit his drive on the 10th over a toilet and into a water hazard. The Belgian had to drop his ball inside the bathroom on two occasions before he was allowed to place it in the rough behind the building. Now that’s what you call nearest point of relief!

GAA: There’s only one place to be this Sunday, and that’s Ballybofey for the Ulster SFC clash between All-Ireland champions Donegal and National League finalists Tyrone. A sell-out crowd and the historic needle between these two sides makes this the sporting occasion of the weekend if not one of the great games of the year so far. My money’s on Tyrone – not that Galway lived up to my expectations against Mayo last Sunday.

SOCCER: Bizarre goings-on at Stoke City, where devout Muslim Kenwyne Jones smashed the windscreen on Ireland midfielder Glenn Whelan’s car after a pig’s head was left in his locker at the training ground. Jones has since apologized to Whelan and cleared him of any blame for the pig’s head incident, with the guilty party still to own up!

CYCLING: The weather in Europe has gone berserk. Not alone was it freezing in Ireland over the weekend, it also snowed in Italy, forcing the organisers to reschedule stages of the Giro d’Italia over the weekend and abandon scheduled hill climbs due to the volume of snow on the roads.

GAA: Kildare fans will probably know that Dermot Earley has joined the retirement bandwagon, and who can blame him? After his most recent back injury he could hardly walk. Not what a 34-year-old sportsman expects from his body.

RACING: Champion flat jockey Johnny Murtagh has been granted a trainer’s licence by the Irish Turf Club, so don’t be surprised if he’s is crowned Ireland’s top trainer in the future as well. He’s a born winner – like all Meath men!

SOCCER: Jose Mourinho will end the season without a trophy of any sort at Real Madrid. Little wonder then that he’s on his way out of the Bernabeu, probably to return to former club Chelsea.

RONAN O’Gara said his goodbyes to his Munster teammates last weekend after confirming that he is to take up a new role as a coach with the Paris-based club Racing Metro. O’Gara’s playing days with Munster and Ireland are over, but he leaves a hero after winning every honor possible with his club, his province and his country. He won many medals over the years, but the Heineken Cups he won with Munster and the Grand Slam he won for Ireland will never, ever be forgotten. Lucky enough to personally witness O’Gara at his best, I can only salute him and wish him well in his new life. He deserves to be a success as a coach.

REPORTS over the weekend suggested that some Cork City fans decided to aim racist taunts at the young Bray Wanderers striker Ishmahil Akinade during Friday night’s Airtricity League game at Turner’s Cross. Bray did their talking on the pitch with a 3-1 win, but those responsible for the sick attack on the youngster should be banned for life by Cork. There can be no place in Irish sport for racism, and City’s bosses must make that clear with their actions now.