Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pat Lawler u13 National Cup

Diarmuid and the rest of his u13 squad from Sligo RFC traveled down to Limerick last weekend to participate in the Pat Lawler u13 National Cup in Thomond Park - the home of the Heineken European Champions, Munster.

This was Sligo's first time ever at the invitation only competition and they were the sole team representing Connaught. The competition being dominated by teams from Munster, Leinster and Ulster little hope was given to our squad of bravehearts.

This was essentially a pre-season tournament and the boys had only three training sessions leading up to it - so perhaps we had little reason to have much confidence either. This Sligo squad however are a cocky little bunch of upstarts and they weren't prepared to kowtow to anybody regardless of where they came from or what tradition they represented.

Their tour to Leeds earlier this year obviously bonded the team who came out of the blocks like men possessed. Drawn in a tough group against teams they had never played before and knew nothing about they immediately made their presence felt. Imposing themselves right from the start they got straight out of their group without conceding a try leaving a trail of destruction behind them - their opposition at this stage didn't know what hit them!

Heads started to turn with their first blitz attack and all of a sudden the big teams were looking over their shoulders. Sligo it seems were not aware that they were here just to make up the numbers.

Drawn in the quarter finals against the mighty Shannon club (a home side) Sligo played perhaps their best game. Shannon who were a physically big squad were not as easy to turn over - never the less Sligo just kept the pressure up and made sure an upset was on the cards. Getting over the line first it looked like Sligo might just do it. Half time came, Sligo ahead by one, Shannon wounded but not out. Shannon started the second half with fierce determination, hitting Sligo hard all over the field. This was the Shannon that everybody expected. Their effort was duly rewarded with an equalizing try.

Was this to be the end of Sligo? Were they to collapse now as expected and do the decent thing and let the home side go through? Not a chance. Sligo got straight back into it, they took the game by the scruff of the neck and decided to let everybody know that they meant business. They dug deep and threw everything at their opposition. Nobody doubted what was coming next - bang - Sligo were leading 2 to 1. Then the whistle came for time. Shannon devastated, Sligo calm and collected, wondering what all the fuss was about.

As the team were leaving the pitch I over heard a UL Bohemians player asking one of our squad who won, the reply extracted a "Shite, that means we have to play you in the semi's" - Sligo it seems were now considered worthy.

The semi final against UL Bomenians A's (another home team and one of the strongest teams in Munster) was epic. The munster side was classy, the visitors were unimpressed. Sligo's typical battering ram approach earned them first blood. UL Bohs fought back
to level it. Sligo were not going to let it slip now and a stalemate ensued. See-sawing from one end to the other the game ended in a draw. Extra time was called and both teams continued as they started, neither prepared to let the other over the line. Both teams defended like their lives depended on it. This game was an emotional roller coaster for all present. The final whistle was called and at this stage even the fans were exhausted.

The rules stated that if a game ends in a draw after extra time then the team that scores first wins. A tough rule but this is what they have done in this competition for the past 23 years so who are we to argue. A sense of shock came over the ground as players and fans alike started to realize that Sligo where through to the final! UL Bohs players, coaches and fans were in agony - this was a tough way to go out. Sligo were minnows no more. Their victory earned, their reward: The Final.

Sligo were knackered at this stage, and unfortunately they got little time to rest. The giants of Young Munster awaited and they were eager. Sligo stood tall, they were equals now.

Perhaps this was one game too many. The team were simply unable to gather the strength required for this one last battle. Unable to impose their style of play Sligo were put to the sword. The semi-final with it's extra time was to be their undoing it seemed. This squad don't roll over easy though and they fought till the bitter end. You couldn't be prouder.

Sligo were as gracious in defeat as they had been in victory. They were upset but proud of what they had achieved. They had come to the home of rugby and made their bed there. This is a team for the future.

On a side note, Sligo not only took scalps - they made friends as well. The club have been invited to take part again next year and a number of clubs now want to travel up and play the lads. This is perhaps the sweetest prize for the club, the chance to mix and learn from tops teams outside of Connaught. This can only improve the entire standard of Sligo rugby. Well done lads, you've served your club well.

Some pictures from the tournament

Diarmuid taking a tackle in the match against Kilfeacle

Diarmuid getting over for a try against Richmond

Diarmuid breaking for the line (and yes he scored)

Against UL Bohs

Diarmuid leading out his team in the final against Young Munster

Seek and destroy...

The team with the Heineken Cup - something to aim for in the future perhaps?

Loads more photos from the tournament (not just of Diarmuid) are available here on Flickr

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

First Day

It's Diarmuid's first day in Secondary School today. (yeah - hard to believe!! that's why I feel stiff - I'm getting old!). I just grabbed a shot of him before he hared out the door for school at 8.20am! (usually it's 1 minute past being really late).

Big heavy school bag, new uniform, oh how I wish I was going back to school!

Update: School went well - not as strange as he thought it might be. The verdict is still out on some of the teachers. Diarmuid's exact words were interesting...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Happy Birthday Nuala!

Nuala (& Ciaran from Gardeners Way, boaty friends of ours) had her 'xth' birthday party recently which we gladly attended. It was so cool being able to bring the boat up close to their house - the lucky sods practically live on the Shannon.

Of course I had camera - I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

Ciaran; thirsty.

Both of us ...not quite as thirsty as we were

The Ladies - far from thirsty at this stage as well

This is what happens when people get too much drink - they start lep'pin around the place - ouch is all I'll add.

The die hards - about 40 people had left the party at this stage!! Of course we hung on till the bitter end! Great party guys!

The Shannon Boat Rally 2006

The last weekend in July saw us taking part in the annual shannon boat rally. (See last years post here). This year the Rally was based down in Lough Ree.

Triona, after winning the 'Mothers' smarty race

Myself after coming third in the 'Fathers' smarty race.

The theme of the rally this year was Music. So for the fancy dress "We were sailing". To top it off Triona was Olive Oil and I was Pop Eye complete with our own ship. We won best group! The fact that we couldn't actually sing "We Are Sailing" seemed to be an advantage :)

John, Brenda, Eoin and Jade joined us later in the Rally (Hodson Bay). They got a baptism of fire and a re-introduction into the old ways (of staying up all night etc. etc.)

This is an example of what I mean by baptism of fire - this picture was taken on the back of our boat very very very early in the morning. Good times!

Loads more pictures from this years Rally can be found here on flickr.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ben's Wedding

Ben, who works with Triona at St. Cecilias in Cregg got married to Sarah Jame a week after Peter and Louise in Sligo. Another great day was had by all. We were delighted to be invited and we wish Ben & Sarah Jane the very best in the future.

Ben & Sarah Jane with their bridal party at Rosses Point Church.

Triona 'enjoying' a cupcake at the Reception in the Radisson. I'm sorry to report readers that the cake was seriously harmed shortly after this picture was taken and had to be 'put down'
- The Humanity!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Some pics of Classy Bird

Here are a few pictures of our new boat Classy Bird - which we enjoyed a great summer on.

She's a Dutch Steel cruiser, built in 1984, and clean as a whistle. You are all welcome to come on board any time - just pop down to Lough Key. Winter cruising will be our speciality this year!

On a side note - both Triona and myself just passed our IWAI/ISA Certificate of Competency for Motor Cruising so if you fall over board we'll know how to rescue you :) (or not)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Joe Mooney Festival

OK - I'm about two months behind now with blog posts - sorry - we had quite a busy (but fun) summer.

While in Drumshanbo on the boat we took in the Joe Mooney Traditional Irish Music Summer school. Triona did her part doing set dancing every morning (while I worked, sort of). One of the highlights of the week for me was getting locked into a bar during the wee hours while Brendan Gleeson was playing is fiddle (and boy can he play!).

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Pizza's Wedding

Sorry for the long lay off. We've been busy enjoying the holidays and spending as little time as possible in front of a PC. The last time I posted we were in the process of taking the boat up to Drumshanbo to go to Peter Flynn's wedding - well we made it and had an absolute blast.

Big thanks to Peter and Louise for inviting us to take part in their big day - we wish them a long life of happiness together.

Here are a few photo's from the day/night:

Tri & Viv at the Church - the weather was fab.

ahh - the lovely couple

Barry & Catherine

Catherine & Barry (eile)

Tri, Mary & Barry

Barry, Barry agus mise

Viv & John

Barry & Catherine

Mary & Barry

Mise agus Tri

Barry the snapper

Jaysus - they're all at it now!

The groom & Tri

The guys

Sharon & Tri

The bride & groom

Barry & Catherine - future bride and groom??? :)

ahhh - I think we were all spinning at this stage

Them there is Fight'en words!

oh dear - what can I say ... (that's actually a shot that Barry is force feeding into Sparky - not that he needs help or anything)

Sharon & Tri - obviously at a much later stage in the night.