Monday, February 25, 2008

Tricky Eddie Exits the Valley

It'll probably take the departure of Eddie O'Sullivan himself for the World Cup to be totally consigned into history.

When that will come, we can't know: perhaps he will preside Castro-like for decades until ill-health finally forces him to step aside (presumably John Hayes will still be playing, patched up and repeatedly repaired like the old 1950s Cadillacs that roam the streets of Havana).

Or perhaps he'll soon tire of being the pantomime villain, the man the rugby writers and pundits hiss and boo and attribute the gamut of ills from the lack of an alternative outhalf to the frigging credit crunch to. Rather than doing a Castro on it, he might go out like Dicky Nixon, scowling "you won't have Eddie to kick around anymore" at his persecutors.

Whichever, only after his demise will the rank, pestilent stench of RWC 2007 totally clear and the air be fragrant and fresh as 'twas ere that benighted tourney.

Nonetheless, three games into the Six Nations, and despite the grumpy little fella still calling the shots, the fog of France is definitely clearing. The old, fondly remembered Ireland came into focus enough times on Saturday to finally suggest - in the nick of time for O'Sullivan - that this team as presently configured can do some of the fine things our big talkin' once suggested.

Brian O'Driscoll reminded one of Micheal O'Hehir's line about Bernard Brogan "drilling for oil" when his incision into the Scottish line helped set up Rob Kearney's try. The pass to Kearney was definitive World's Greatest Centre™.

Ronan O'Gara's sumptuous form all season suggests that he left France behind the moment Boeing left tarmac at Charles De Gaulle. Finally those around him are enjoying the same Gallic amnesia. For Tommy Bowe's first try the team got back into that Roman groove that we once thought would conquer the world.

And best of all, Geordan Murphy. The Leicester louche had endured a prolonged period of being used in turn by O'Sullivan and the press pack as a stick with which to beat each other.

The press would batter Eddie with calls for Murphy's inclusion, castigations of his treatment by the coach and general hypotheses that O'Sullivan's inability to use Murphy properly proved conclusively his fundamental unsuitability for the big job.

O'Sullivan would throw Murphy in, and upon the player's admittedly repeated failings, drop him with undue brutality, in order that the point be made to his foes: "look, see! See what you know!"

Best to put that sort of stuff behind everyone. Girvan Dempsey may be a wet dream for a belt-and-braces man like Eddie, but really, if Murphy's on the money, you have to put the house on him.

No talk here of the bad things from Saturday, there's been enough of that. Maybe we will have Eddie to kick around for another while. And as Nixon also said: "only if you've been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain."

(On the other hand he had just been forced to resign for instigating the most grievous threat to the American democracy since the Civil War. Anyway, maybe Eddie ain't so bad.)


Blogger James said...

The seed of impotence was sewn for me when he was offered th contract before the World Cup. Even at the time I was flabbergasted.

Look how Wales have sparked into life after they wielded the axe, while we can only dream about how Warren Gatland could have handled the current crop if he had stayed on.

10:53 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can only dream indeed, but don't discount the possibility (fact?) that getting the shaft from Ireland was the best thing that could have happened to Warren G; since that time, he has found success, titles and praise in NZ, the Guinness Prem, the H Cup and Wales, and he is surely unbackable odds on to be the Lions coach next summer. Not a bad return I would say?

11:49 p.m.  
Blogger Tommy77 said...

The thing about Gatland is that he was incredibly young when in charge of Ireland - who's to say he would ever have developed as a coach the way he had if he hadn't put his knapsack on his back and roamed the planet a-coachin' and a-winnin'...He'd also never have run into Shaun Edwards....

9:53 a.m.  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

.... you're predictions have rung true.

Now when do we get rid of Philip Browne?

10:16 a.m.  
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