No tears from the big man, but plenty of emotions for the rest of us
‘His final, final, final, final, final, final hurrah will be in Paris next week’
Brian O’Driscoll shows his emotions as he walks from the field after his final home international.
You know, when the crowd was chanting “one more year” while Brian O’Driscoll chatted with Clare McNamara on the pitch after he beat Italy on Saturday, you half expected him to respond: “And go through this hoopla all over again? You’re having a laugh, right?”
It was indeed a long week for the fella.
“Is it getting a bit tiresome talking about your emotions,” Shane Horgan asked him in a very lovely interview shown before the game.
“It totally is,” said O’Driscoll, who stubbornly refused to cry all week.
That despite everyone’s best efforts to make him teary with numerous questions along the lines of: “How do you feel about the prospect of never, ever, ever playing at Lansdowne again, and, after Paris, never, ever, ever playing anywhere again, never, ever, ever pulling on the green jersey again, never, ever, ever hearing the ‘Fields of Athenry again’? Will your life have absolutely no meaning? Do you feel tearful? Yes?”
And he somehow smiled through it all, reckoning that at a mere 35 he still has a lot of good living to do.
Lively spell on Earth
Granted, it’s the end of a lively old spell in his time on Earth, but still – no more than himself, a vow: no tears come Saturday.
That Robo-bod piece at the start of RTÉ’s coverage.
Ah sure, floods, like.
“He’s had some minging hairstyles, though,” noted Keith Wood over on the BBC, so his career hasn’t been flawless, and his first impression of O’Driscoll, when he came in to the senior squad, didn’t entirely bode well either.
“We were playing a game of pool in the team room, he was wearing a pair of glasses that were like the bottom of a Coke bottle, they were huge, blind as a bat, slightly spotty kid.”
“The second he ran out on to the field, he was just absolute magic.”
(John Inverdale: “Is he the greatest centre three-quarter that you’ve seen?
Jeremy Guscott: “Yes . . . very close to . . .”.
Jeremy? Get in the mood.
“. . . if not the best.”
When he ran out on to the field on Saturday, though, you sensed he wished the hoopla would magically disappear, he had work to do. And he did it rather well.
“Three touches, three tries,” Conor O’Shea observed, which was a decent enough effectiveness percentage.
“He’s been the man of the match, man of the occasion, man of the decade, THE man over the last 15 years,” said Ralph Keyes, although the BOD man’s cheeks sizzled a bit at the MOTM award, “it seems a bit of a joke that you get it for 60 minutes,” he told Clare.
It’s a modesty that George the Hook man had earlier credited to “Mrs O’Driscoll”, on International Women’s Day – “few should celebrate Mrs O’Driscoll” – reckoning she might have been the root cause of him shaking off those dodgy early career moments, like when he’d wave his energy drink bottle in front of the camera so we could all see the logo.
But then he grew up, and he’s been a bunch of excellence ever since, on and off the turf.
And as Ralph noted, he’s never been “the size of the hall door”, so he proved that you don’t have to be six foot eleven to succeed, so there’s hope for us all.
“His final, final, final, final, final, final hurrah will be in Paris next week,” said Inverdale, lest we feared this was the last goodbye, so we’ll go through it all again, only this time it’ll be a whole heap more tearful.
The biggest worry, really, was that RTÉ would finish up with a montage accompanied by “I did it myyyyyyyyy way”, the second biggest worry that they’d go with Time of my Life , a tune that would rip the heart from ya.
They went with Time of my Life , and Kleenex shares rocketed.
Meantime, the women. What with all the post-boys-match hoopla, they got a nano-second to warm up on the Lansdowne pitch. Then they beat Italy 39-0.
Cripes, imagine if they’d had longer to prepare.