|IRELAND 16. ALL BLACKS 9|
There is a tavern in the town. And it was here that we assembled on Saturday evening to watch Ireland’s historic win over the mighty All Blacks.
The atmosphere at the Aviva seemed electric as the teams ran out. Ireland’s Call was sung with great gusto and we all joined in.
The All Blacks did their customary Hakka. It laid down a marker.
“They’ll be knackered from all that dancing.” one wit proclaimed.
“Give them a dose of Riverdance!” someone else shouted. “That’ll put a stop to their gallop!”
The Irish team linked arms and looked on impassively.
The visitors started strongly, tearing in to the Irish pack. But the thin green line stood firm, never conceding an inch and slowly began battling their way up-field.
With ten minutes gone, New Zealand finally buckled and gave away a penalty in front of their own posts and Sexton lined up the shot.
Meanwhile, up at the counter, two small farmers had their backs to the television and were loudly debating Brexit and its effect on the local economy.
“There won’t be a sucky calf sold below in the mart next March.” one of them said.
“We’ll be back to bailing búchaláns again.” his companion agreed.
“Shush!” we hissed at them. “Have a bit of respect for the kicker.”
They quietened down and Sexton duly despatched the ball between the posts. This released a loud rendition of the Fields of Athenry from the Aviva faithful and again we all joined in. Even the two small farmers stood up and sang as loudly as the rest of us, with their glasses raised in celebration.
“So, who is playing today anyway?” they asked when the singing had subsided, and were immediately issued with a yellow card and sent to the sin bin in the back room.
Ireland dominated for most of the first half but still only managed a slender 9-6 lead at half time and we wondered if it was enough. We remembered that 2013 nightmare when we led by 5 points with minutes remaining, only to concede a converted try at the death.
“Don’t mention the war.” we thought.
Into the second half and Ireland continued to retain possession and territorial advantage, so much so that, after 48 minutes, the All Blacks suffer the humiliation of having their entire front row replaced!
Little good it did them as, a minute later, Irish winger, Jacob Stockdale, latches on to his own kick-ahead and races in for a glorious try. Sexton converts to a mighty roar that could be heard all the way to Abbeyfeale (via the television) We reply with a deafening cheer of their own (which they probably couldn’t hear up there with all the noise.)
New Zealand threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Ireland in the closing quarter but to no avail. The Irish defence was awesome and even the television on the wall seemed to shudder as another crunching green-shirted tackle went in.
And then it was over and Ireland had done it! The first Irish team to beat the All Blacks at home in 113 years of trying, and 40 years after that famous Munster victory in 1978.
The whole place erupted as the ghosts of the past seemed suddenly to mingle with the stars of the present. It was a moment to remember.
The two small farmers emerged from the sin bin, attracted by all the singing and cheering.
“Who won?” they wanted to know.
They were immediately yellow-carded again and despatched once more from the field of play as the victory celebrations gathered momentum.
What a day, what a year, what a team!
CHRISTMAS CAROL SERVICE: The annual carol service takes place in the Church of the Assumption on Sunday, December 9 from 7pm.
HARNETT INTERNATIONAL REUNION 2019: Calling all Harnetts based West Limerick, North Cork and North Kerry. We are well into planning for our big weekend next July and we’d love you to get involved and be there to meet up with people from all over the world who share your DNA. We have a dedicated email address which you can use to get in touch; HarnettReunion2019 @gmail.com You can follow developments on our FB page too.
ADVICE FROM COMMUNITY ALERT: Our third annual Christmas Party will take place at Fr. Casey’s on Sunday, November 25 next from 1 – 6pm with lunch being served at 1.30pm sharp. Now that the winter has truly arrived turn on your dims while driving to enable your car to be seen these murky dark days. If you have the wipers on then you should always have the lights on too. Ring Abbeyfeale Garda Station 068 30010 (if station unattended the call will automatically be forwarded to NCW station 069 20650) if you are concerned about anti-social behaviour. Tips on home security from the IFA: Do Not; Pay cash for goods – no receipt, no guarantee. Erect sensor lights. Photograph and mark machinery. Abbeyfeale Community Alert have some pens which can be used for marking property and will loan them out. Contact any member of the committee should you wish to join our Text Alert Scheme. This was set up to immediately alert the community that an incident has occurred. The hope is that by raising awareness, people would keep a watchful eye out, contact the Gardai if they see something and thus help to deter criminal activity in our area. Once you reach the age of 65 and live alone or with a person/s aged over 65 you are entitled to receive a monitored alarm system. But if you have younger people living in the house who are out for long periods of the day then because you are spending hours alone you are also entitled to the system provided that you are over 65. The free equipment is provided by Pobal following an application from Abbeyfeale Community Alert, there will be a monitoring fee to be paid from the second year of installation to the installing company of €66. Should you not have a landline the installing company Task provide a sim card at a rate of €7.50 per month. Please note that this fee is payable in a lump sum each year after year one. Committee members are Sean Broderick, Micheal O’Kelly N.T., Seamus Stack, Mossie Gleeson, Kathleen Collins, Mary McArthur, Buddy and Brenda Barry, John O’Sullivan, Billy Quirke N.T., Cllr. Francis Foley, Mary Jo O’Connell, James Joy, Denis Collins, Marian Harnett.