Lightning strikes in Brisbane – but alas not in Energia Park

Orla O’Dwyer helps Brisbane storm to victory; Ireland’s rugby women felled by France

Ireland’s Brittany Hogan dejected after their 56-15 loss to France in the Six Nations round three game at Energia Park in Dublin  on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland’s Brittany Hogan dejected after their 56-15 loss to France in the Six Nations round three game at Energia Park in Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

They’re hardy folk, those Aussie Rules people. Take Brisbane’s Jess Wuetschner. It was during Saturday’s Grand Final, brought to us by TG4, that commentator Jason Bennett casually mentioned that she had missed the first four rounds of the season last year. Tweaked hamstring? Ankle ligaments? No. “She was struck by lightning working on the docks in Brisbane, ” he said.

Straight to the Google. “As soon as it happened, I went, ‘sh**, I’ve just been electrocuted,’” Wuetschner said of the incident which occurred when she was doing her full-time job, working as a stevedore loading and unloading ships. “It was quite shocking,” she said – quite literally too, the metal pole she was holding struck by lightning when she was 40ft up a crane.

Being hunted by marauding Adelaide Crows, then, their collective noun appropriately “murder”, probably didn’t seem that daunting for Wuetschner after what she’d endured, and besides, she had a Tipp woman helping her out in a very able way.

Not, to be honest about it, that some of us can actually tell if someone is having a good Aussie Rules game, much of it looking a little like a WWE bout taking place on a first World War battlefield. So we had Abbey Holmes to thank for reassuring us that Orla O’Dwyer had had a blinder: “She’s been fantastic this afternoon, what a game she’s played!”

“It’s a long, long way from Tipperary,” she said to O’Dwyer after the game, the county ending its mighty-achievements-by-its-sportswomen drought, it being a whole week since Rachael Blackmore won the Grand National.

Banjaxed

O’Dwyer, who became the second Irish woman to collect a Grand Final winner’s medal after the Crows’ Ailish Considine, said a big hello to her mam, dad, siblings, cousins and pals who all got up in the middle of the night to watch the game live and will, as a result, be banjaxed for the week to come.

She is, of course, one of those multi-coders, adding Aussie Rules to a sporting CV that already features sizeable Gaelic football and camogie achievements, a bit like Considine, whose multi-coding sister Eimear was busy on Saturday too, playing for Ireland in the Six Nations against France.

A week after mullering Wales, Ireland were severely mullered themselves, in part because they had ignored Eddie O’Sullivan’s pre-match advice.

Eddie: “We have to keep working, no logs on the ground.”

Daire O’Brien: “Logs on the ground? Explain that one to me.”

Eddie: “When a player’s lying on the ground, we call them logs. L, o, g – lie on the ground.”

Daire: “Ah, I had a dead tree in my head.”

It was a case of “timbeeeerrrrr!” from the off, the French felling our dead trees left, right and centre, 38-8 by half-time, Eddie raising our spirits by advising us that “the second half is going to be more difficult”.

It wasn’t quite, but not far off, 56-15. And there commenced the customary postmortem about the state of Irish women’s rugby, Niamh Briggs pointing out that a heap of these French players were ruggering from in or around the time they learnt to walk, while most of our players came late to the game, multi-coding raising its head again.

Rare commodity

Improved funding would, of course, help matters, but these days, loot is a rare commodity in most sports. Unless you can be underwritten by JP Morgan to the tune of $6 billion.

“To bring forward proposals in the midst of Covid, in the midst of the economic crisis that exists for all clubs, is an absolute scandal,” said Gary Neville when Martin Tyler asked him for his thoughts on these Super League proposals during the game between Manchester United and Burnley, so little of note happening on the pitch he had loads of time to emote. “United and the rest of the big six clubs who have signed up to it against the rest of the Premier League should be ashamed of themselves.”

And, come full-time: “It’s a criminal act against the fans!”

He was right, need it be said, but only those football fans with expensive Sky Sports subscriptions would have heard his thoughts. It was hard to resist a quiet chuckle.

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