Touch Euros 2014 – Postscript

A few days after the tournament…

It’s strange to come back down from the emotional height. I didn’t want to come down. I don’t want to come down. The first thing I did when I got back home to my house in Dublin was open the fridge and it was small shock to realize that the Glenisk yogurt I’d eaten half of on the morning we’d flown out was still in date!

Low Fat Strawberry Big Pot

How could that be? We’ve scaled the heights of Olympus and back, we must have been away months!

Mount-Olympus

No, Ian, you were actually only in Swansea and it was just a few days…oh! And, that unpaid electricity bill you left on the kitchen table is still waiting for you by the way. Oh.

But let that stuff wait.

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Click on the link for some of the footage of our final day.. plus some of the tries from our final group game against England…

Our 3rd/4th place play-off game against Wales was as hard as the first game of the tournament. The tiredness was beginning to have an effect.

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As I learned from chatting to her later, the captain of Wales was chuckling at me with the referee at the start of the game. I was crouched down ready to sprint at the ‘touch-off’ at the sound of hooter. The referee was whispering to her ‘Look at Usain Bolt over there’. Then I heard over the sound system ‘One minute warning’. ‘Do you think he’ll stay like that for the minute?’ the referee said to her. I was thinking ‘Feck it. I’ve committed to it now. I can’t back down!’ I stayed as I was.

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Usain O’Bolt

That was a tough, tough game to win. But we closed out our championship. That was a great way to finish.

Great photos of the game by Ruth Wall:

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As always in this tournament, I learned so much. These tournaments, they suck you in. There’s no way around it. They beat you up sometimes… but they also bring out the best of people on all teams.

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“You and yer ‘brother’ played well together in middle.”

Apart from our team there were seven other Irish teams, all with their own journeys. The 40s once again, and this time against a lot of odds it seemed, were an inspiration for me. I know how much of a lift it gave me hearing the positive results starting to trickle back to the players tent. And I wish I’d seen the Womens 27s first victory, a 2-1 win over Scotland.

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The women of the Senior Mixed

The Womens Open squad, there are people on that team that are some of my favourite people in Irish touch and the tournament they had was like the one I had three years ago back in the World Cup, a lot of defeats… it’s tough but it can help define how you move forward, it can drive you. The joy of any victory for me in this tournament is based on the experience of 8 straight losses in my first international games.

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Sunday morning – Claire sad… I’m playing awful Devin! I’m crap.

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Sunday evening – Claire happy… Senior Mixed Female MVP

After that last game, you mentally relax and every pain in your body that you’ve been keeping at bay comes rushing in. Half an hour after and the thought of playing another game of Touch seems inconceivable. You feel like you wouldn’t be able to run for a week…exhaustion. (Of course you would if you had to.)

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A couple of hours after the last game game I hobbled back to the campus and went into the little shop. I could see the Greek woman who I’d been chatting to during the week looking at me curiously… All week I’d been buying pasta, nuts and dried fruit, bananas and litres-loads of water… My buying patterns were suddenly took a sharp divergence.

‘A 6-pack of Corona and a Kingsize Wispa bar please!’

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And then the after-party…ah yes.

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Still talking Touch hours later… ‘Seriously, if that eejit O’Malley had just popped me the ball I was in I tell ya!’

Thanks to anyone who’s read the blog and all the people supporting us. It was so satisfying to be able to finally report wins.

I’d mention just four people following the blog from abroad. Tim’s mammy in New Zealand who sent us on the following tactical advice, which we followed – ‘Give the ball to Tim – he can run like the clappers!’ 🙂

To Jims nephew Gavin in Boston who was watching the videos of his uncle over and over again… your uncle did you proud Gavin!

To me buddy Federico in Miami. I don’t even know if you read these… but I know you did. I know you probably know more about everything that happened than anyone who was here. To the beautiful lady in Zurich who, among many other things, organized for me to swap for this Swiss jersey after the games. 😉

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(Post-tournament Kit swapping – traditionally the most stressful part of the whole week… the highs, lows, the set-backs, the haggling, the despair, the desperation, the triumphs…

Me: Swiss jersey/Belgian shorts/Spanish tracksuit bottoms/Italian jacket/French polo)

Ah feck it, I can’t not mention me mammy, so that’s 5 people… but basically thanks to anyone who read.

It’s a cliche, but we play sport for the love of it, we’d still do it even if we weren’t getting paid. I truly mean that… Oh, my teammates may not have been aware that I’m on a six figure contract with the ITA… You’re all playing for free?! Losers! Seriously, I’ll give you all the number of my agent. He’ll cut you a deal.

So I’ve 28 caps for Ireland now. I’m no longer a novice. No more excuses. Come some way from 8 straight losses 3 years ago. That gives a lot of satisfaction. There is no substitute for hard work, for spirit, for honesty, for people working side by side. It’s time to keep pushing it onto the next level. I’m excited… about Touch, so no change there.

Ian

One response to “Touch Euros 2014 – Postscript

  1. Thanks for the commentary of the last day. Well worth the wait! I thought I was going to be struck off Tim’s Christmas card list after he read my post!! We in NZ are so very proud of you all for winning the bronze medal even if, for the first time in years , there wasn’t one. Disappointing to hear that the team is unlikely to enter next years championships in Australia. I have had to stop your NZ supporters from rushing off to book flights. To maximise the experience you have gained in the last few days, stay together, look after each other and keep off the Guinness!! Di

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