Sean as Munster fan 2

Munster have a vital Heineken Cup match away to Toulon – one of the big, super-rich French clubs – on 16 January. They have lost two group matches already; a third defeat would almost certainly mean their failure to qualify for the quarter-finals for the first time since 1998.

As I have documented on this blog, the last full day of Sean’s life, 16 October, was partly spent watching rugby with me, and it was a happy day as Munster – the love of his rugby life – thrashed Toulon in Limerick.

I emailed Munster Rugby to tell them a bit about Sean. I talked about his devotion to the Munster team over the past eight years or so, and how he would have been desperately disappointed if they failed to reach the quarter-finals.

In response I had a very nice email from Pat Geraghty of Munster Rugby, expressing his sympathy on behalf of the Munster squad and management. Pat says, ‘I don’t imagine my words are much consolation to you but perhaps it might help to know that your words will be relayed to the team and may prove the inspiration they need going into a very difficult match.’

In fact this is a great consolation to Pauline, Susanna and me. We think it’s wonderful that the Munster players will know of Sean’s existence, and that they meant so much to him. Motivation and psychology are very important in rugby, and it’s possible that Sean will make some small difference … perhaps a significant one. I certainly hope so.

From our perspective, a Munster victory would be a kind of memorial to our beloved son and brother.

Sean (back row, second from left) at a training session of the Cavan-Fermanagh under-16 squad, Enniskillen, 2007

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5 Comments

Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories, Sport

5 responses to “Sean as Munster fan 2

  1. papaguinea

    Brendano – I remember you said that Sean had once said “I believe in Munster”. Perhaps it was the same kind of spirit of belief that helped Liverpool overcome a 3 – 0 deficit in that European football final. Whatever! It is enough that they players hold Sean’s support, that they embrace his hopes in a personal and collective way. I am sure it gladdens your heart to hear those words of the Club rep/player. Win or lose, it is in the spirit of taking part that is paramount. Nonetheless I wish you a Munster victory for I am well biased!

  2. Cymbeline

    How kind of the team, and what a wonderful transcendence in the idea of your son making them play harder in a match that has not yet taken place.

    I shall be cheering for Munster.

    • Thanks very much, Cymbeline … perhaps not too loudly, given that you live in France. 🙂

      What will be will be, but in sport, as in life, there is always hope. And Munster do have a very good team, although they never seem to do things the easy way. So many emotional rollercoasters … those were a big part of our lives.

  3. Munster are closer to their fans than perhaps any other team in any sport. There is no ego … they play for the fans.

    Here is a blog post I wrote on Munster rugby a few years ago.

    Tomorrow the two most recent Heineken Cup winners, London Wasps and Munster, will meet in Limerick. One will exit the competition. It promises to be an extraordinarily intense and compelling match.

    Munster rugby – based in Limerick city with satellites in Cork, Tipperary and Clare – is special. Limerick is the only place in England, Scotland or Ireland where rugby is a working-class game.

    The roots of Munster’s fondness for rugby may lie in its citizens’ anxiety, pre-independence, to express their opinion of the local British Army garrisons in a robust manner. Robert Graves writes in Goodbye to All That: ‘That January [1919] I played my last game of rugger: as full-back for the battalion against Limerick city. We were all crocks and our opponents seemed bent on showing what fine fighting material England had lost by withholding Home Rule. How jovially they jumped on me, and rubbed my face in the mud!’

    Munster, unlike Ireland, has beaten the All Blacks. Munster has beaten Australia. Munster has qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals nine years in a row … an incredible achievement. Tomorrow, I hope, it will be 10.

    For my son and me, watching Munster is even more emotional than watching Ireland (he developed a love of rugby from watching Munster on television, and became a good player). It’s no exaggeration to say that we love Munster. We almost love them too much. They deserve it on account of their courage and passion and pride, and refusal to give up, which sets them above the other Irish provinces. In 2004 Munster needed to beat Gloucester, then the top team in England, by 27 points, while scoring four tries, in order to progress to the quarter-finals. Gloucester didn’t think this was possible, but Munster did … they won 33–6, scoring the last of their four tries in injury time.

    Nineteen of the Munster 22 last weekend were Irish (including Shaun Payne, the naturalized South African); most were from the counties I have mentioned. In an age when big rugby clubs acquire top players from all over the world, this is important. These men know what it means to wear the red Munster jersey. Players who are brought in from outside must sink or swim; those who flourish are in the tough, down-to-earth Munster mould (currently the New Zealanders Mafi, Tipoki and Howlett; previously the Australians John Langford and Jim Williams).

    Munster’s greatest fan, perhaps, was the actor Richard Harris, who may be looking down from heaven tomorrow if such a place exists. When I was growing up in Tipperary, my next-door-neighbour told me how he had once knocked Harris unconscious on the rugby field. Being a Munster man, Harris would never have held it against him.

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