Wanderings, Lies, Values, Heartbreak & Silver Linings – European Touch Championships 2022.


The Song of a Wandering Touch Player

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head.
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:


In the traditional Irish poetic form the aisling, the poet feels weak from thinking of the woes that have overtaken the Irish Gaels and he falls into a deep slumber. In his dreaming, a figure of radiant beauty draws near, so bright, so stately; she is Erin, the nation of Ireland and she is filled with sorrow. 

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Ten Questions About Irish Culture

If we look carefully, we can see the effects of history in the culture all around us. Can you think of any historical reasons for the following things that you might notice in Ireland today?

Read through the questions and then click the link below to see some suggested answers. 

1. If you look at a food menu in an Irish pub or restaurant, you’ll see lots of dishes with potatoes… Historically, why have potatoes been so important in the Irish diet?


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Senior Touch Championships 2021 – Fears, Tears, Beers & Ten Years


Final. Sunday, October 10th. Coimbra, Portugal


7.30am Wake Up

All the signifiers of the day of big finals are here, all so familiar and still stressful. The stiff, aching muscles, the soreness in all my body from the previous two days tournament. The tight shoulders after a restless night’s sleep. I wish I’d slept more but I can’t change that now. The feeling of anxiety in my stomach. A quiet breakfast, nodding to people, nervous joking among some of the players. I keep my head down in my muesli, in my thoughts.

A lot goes back for me to the Senior Mixed Final in 2016. The start of the bad times. Continue reading

European Touch Championships, Nottingham. Days 3 & 4


Day 3 Game 1 vs Belgium


Perception is everything. We played Belgium in a tournament in Brussels in May. I was coming back from injury, I was still struggling, and had played almost no Touch in months. We didn’t have a full team and they beat us well. I couldn’t handle the speed they were coming at us and couldn’t believe how good Belgium had become.

In our game today, I was watching the first couple of sets from the box and everything seemed manageable. I went on the field and felt very in control, nothing that stressed me unduly. This was a comfortable performance.

Watching back at the video, I’m happy with how I’m responding to mistakes. I’m agitated about the error, giving away a score when I’m on the pitch pains me. I could analyse about three things wrong here straightaway.

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European Touch Championships, Nottingham. Day 2


Top Swedes

We’d only one game today against Sweden so here in no particular order are my top 5 Swedes:

1. Eric the Red – since he and his friends pillaged and plundered in Ireland and my red hair probably goes back to him at some point.


2. Alfred Nobel for inventing dynamite and giving himself a prize. I think that’s what happened.


3. Anita Ekberg for that scene in La Dolce Vita in the Trevi Fountain in Rome.


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European Touch Championships, Nottingham. Day 1


And we’re off.

Game 1 vs Luxembourg: Won 8-0


The highlight of this game for me was playing in every position on the pitch – middle, link and wing. I hadn’t played wing since the World Cup in 2011. It was great.

For some reason, I thought of the character of Boxer from George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’. Give me a job and I’ll do it. I loved it.


One of the things I’ve done in preparation for the tournament is visualise every pattern we run from the vantage point of every position, so I can slot into any position. As you get older, you’ve got to find your point of difference anywhere you can get it.

We did some good things in this game and others were a bit like a when Ireland drew 1-1 with Lichtenstein in soccer in 1995.


Manager Jack Charlton said after as an explanation, ‘It was difficult. They were running different angles from what you expect teams should do.’ The excuse was treated with derision at the time.

I found that in our game against Luxembourg. It was hard to run some of the systems. What we really needed to do was run a simpler game plan.

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European Touch Championships, Nottingham. August 2nd-6th, 2022


The Approach 1 – The Right Side (of History)

On the taxi drive from the airport into Nottingham, the sights are slowly becoming familiar, evoking feelings and memories of the last Euros here in 2018.

I look out the right window as the thick trees of the university campus reach out onto the road and I’m thinking about what I was thinking and feeling back then. I was agitated, on the edge of fury, listening over and over to a Podcast soundbed of Roy Keane, that equally inspired and fueled my rage. I wasn’t liking anything around me or myself.

I remember how I walked alone through those campus trees on the morning of that tournament and imagined if I did my own Saipan, continued walking, got on a plane and flew out of there.


I had to allow myself to imagine it to ease the pressure in my mind. I got close, and not really close.

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Irish Romance


What countries do you think are being talked about in the five descriptions below? Match the five countries to their romantic style.

IrelandSweden – France – South KoreaArgentina


  1. ‘Romance here is all about elegance and style. We talk deeply about love and romance, usually accompanied by good food and wine.’
  2. ‘People are passionate, hot-blooded and sensual. This is expressed in our typical dance as well as our relationships.’
  3. ‘Equality is important in relationships. Men and women adopt non-traditional gender roles. Women here are independent and usually work, while men also share the housework.’
  4. ‘Our approach to romance tends to be informal and easy-going. We’re not into melodramas. There lots of conversation and fun and then let’s see what happens from there.’
  5. ‘Couples are polite and respectful to each other and are quite traditional. Families have a big influence on your choice of partner. Couples often wear cute matching t-shirts and hats.’

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Really Useful Words – ‘Just’ & ‘Actually’


There are certain words that are used very frequently by native English speakers. Their meaning is not always 100% clear, and sometimes they have more than one meaning, but they are very useful and can make a big difference in making your English sound more natural and authentic.   


‘Just’ and ‘actually’ are two words that do not always have exact meanings that you will find in your dictionary. They both have very useful and sometimes varied functions. They can be used in subtle ways to connect and express attitude about things we say or write.

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Visual Ireland – Fashion


In a previous blog, we saw how the Tara Brooch and Gleninsheen Collar were worn to show social status in ancient Irish society. In the modern world, what we wear also communicates information about who we are and our place in society.


Throughout the world, clothing and image can have multiple functions. Apart from providing protection from the elements, clothes in all cultures are used to communicate messages such as social status, intentions or belonging to a certain group. Clothes are also worn for modesty (the parts of the body that must be covered may vary around the world.) We dress differently for business and recreation.

Do you think a lot about what you wear? What do you think your look communicates about you?

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Visual Ireland – Architecture


Best Cities in the World - Grid

What is your favourite city in the world?

Here are the top ten cities to live in, according to Forbes magazine,  in 2021: 

  1. San Francisco, USA
  2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  3. Manchester, England
  4. Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. New York City, USA
  6. Montreal, Canada
  7. Prague, Czech Republic
  8. Tel Aviv, Israel
  9. Porto, Portugal
  10. Tokyo, Japan

Have you been to any of these cities? Do you agree that they are good places to live?

Cities may rank high as good cities to live in for their design and planning because of good infrastructure and facilities, clean public spaces, good public transport systems, the ease of getting out of the city to the countryside, good traffic management, green areas and location.

Do you think that some cities are better to visit than to live in? 

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Visual Ireland – Ancient Art


Do you have any possessions – a phone, a bag, a piece of furniture etc. – that you’ve personalised? 


Throughout human history, decorating our property (or ourselves) has been a way to enrich our identity, to make our mark in the world. We often decorate objects with symbols that represent our character or our beliefs, as a way of advertising who we are.

What visual symbols would you most associate with Ireland? Continue reading