Losing, Rugby Dynasty’s and eventually being happy for Connacht

After a tough sporting weekend its time to bring the season to a close.

This is Keego on Leinster, losing, dynasty destroying and the rugby social media warriors.

So, coming into this week everyone in blue (or most) where saying ‘if Leinster can’t win then I am happy its Connacht’. This was the first sign of a change in the stands that surround Leinster rugby. Can you imagine any other time where anything remotely like this was said? This is said when you don’t believe the opposition is worthy. It is a sign of supporters believing the hype at the business time of the season. I won’t lie, I said something similar to that a few months ago. The closer we got to the game, the more annoyed I got with myself for saying it. During the game I didn’t want Connacht to win, during the game I was annoyed at my team and after the game I am just gutted.

Connacht and Leinster went at each other hard in the opening minutes, but Connacht very quickly took control of the game and they did so far far too easily. The Leinster defensive line was about as active as I am on a Sunday morning after 12 RDS Guinness after match day, that being not at all. Connacht bulldozed towards Leinster and smashed through them by using their brains instead of their bodies. Running at space instead of a human being is always the way to go.

Going in, I thought the midfield was going to be Connachts chance. Aki and Henshaw against T’eo and Ringrose I thought was where they could win. T’eo hasn’t wanted to be in blue for a long time. He had a good game against Ulster but in the final where it counts, he was staying safe to get on the English plane. If a player doesn’t want to be there he should be taken off the pitch. Madigan was on the sidelines who wanted to play. He should have been brought on with 20 minutes gone. It may have made no difference, but I would rather have a team of players who want to play for the team instead of play safers. Ringrose tried very hard, and will be class at the tope level; it was just a learning experience for him.

There was only 1 area of the game that Leinster bossed and that was the scrum. Nothing else worked, nothing else looked like working. Now the question is, was this a game plan issue? Or was it a horrendous day for the players? Did Leo tell the team to lay back and allow Connacht run on to them? If so it’s a naïve gameplan. If it was the players, then why wasn’t there a leader on the pitch taking control? There were near 600 caps in blue on Saturday.  Leinster had less answers than I had during maths paper 2 way back when.

So, Connacht dominated and destroyed a rugby dynasty on Saturday. The further we get from the game, the happier I will be for Connacht but as of right now, I am still gutted.

Which brings me to the internet, never a good place to go after a big win or a big loss. People forget the filter they have in real life (something I am also guilty of) and they just talk. This morning it was about your friend and mine, George Hook. He wrote in the indo comparing the teams and the players a lot of which was spot on. He mentioned about maybe Schmidt being on the chopping block, we will put that in the ‘he’s had too much coffee’ pile. If you use Saturday as a reset for Team Ireland. How many Leinster players make the team? How many Connacht players make the flight? This was where reputations where shattered. Without naming any names, because any player on that pitch is an elite athlete performing at a stupendously high level, who get on the plane?

 

For me the team in green would dominate the big team in green in terms of places, but reputations are getting plane tickets and not form.

Is this a bigger issue? Work of Fitzgerlads injury will open the door for maybe AJ McGinty, which is exactly what he deserves. But he is not the only one.

 

Is now the time to re-evaluate the style of play? The selection process and how the provinces play? Or have we gone too far down the rabbit hole?

 

In closing, a tip of the cap to the Connacht support on Saturday. You out Leinster’d the blue army in Edinburgh and that is some feet. See you in the RDS next season for round 2.

 

As usual @nkeegan for more

 

Until next season….

Regulation, Retirement and the Sport Business.

As you can imagine, every time I have been ready to press the submit button on this blog over the last 3 weeks, something crazy has happened. So, no matter what happens in the next 15 minutes, this will be submitted and this is, Keego on, retirement, regulation and the sport business.

When I started this it was just after dropping in to have a word with my good twitter friend George Hook. I had been tweeting him to ask for a conversation about MMA, regulation and just generally what the sport is about. I assumed this conversation would be over a coffee, but he called my bluff and put me on the radio in the ears of 200 thousand listeners all over the country. It was mainly about the backlash against the sport after the unfortunate and just horrific death of Jiao Carvalho in Dublin. George was genuinely interested in the sport and what it was. I explained this and without naming names, asked for calm in the reaction to the recent events in Dublin. I understand someone lost their life and there is nothing that can be said to make that ok. I just thought it was important to point out what actually happened at the event, and in events in general on that night.

My main point was that maybe the answer, in the short term while regulation is worked on, is to educate the referees a bit more. Especially on the amateur level. Much like any sport, the top level referees are generally at a very high standard with player / fighter safety at the forefront of their concerns. Whereas the amateur level might lack in education. Maybe the code blue people (codeblue.ie), they take care of the fighters on fight night, could produce a video showing what the refs should look out for. Signs of a change in movement etc which could be a result of trauma. That would mean the ref can bring in the doctor earlier and prevent anything overly harmful happening. This would work in all combat sports at all levels.

For all the grief George gets, he was fair with me and that’s all I judge people on.

Just as I was about to submit blog 1, there was a tweet from Conor McGregor which read ‘I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya’s later’. That was it. Twitter went insane. Everyone in Ireland went insane. Was this real? Was there a test failure? Is this a game with the UFC? Where the rumours of bad behaviour true?

The answer came to light fairly quickly. While Conor was training in Iceland, the UFC where holding a press conference in Las Vegas to promote UFC 200, the biggest show in history. The UFC wanted Conor there, Conor wanted to train and felt he was entitled to a bit of leeway in preparing for the Diaz rematch, the UFC disagreed.

For me, I am 50/50 on this. It is hard to be objective when I am a McGregor supporter. But when your boss tells you to do something you basically have to. In saying that, when you generate the kind of revenue for your boss that McGregor does, then should you not have a small allowance. Especially after the work he has done. The Mendes and Aldo fights where totally promoted by Conor, minimal input from both opponents, world tours, multiple interviews and he still made the walk, fought and won. It appeared the gas was gone for Diaz. He looked great and was in control, but when the petrol runs out, the car won’t go anywhere and that is what happened in the fight. That and the fact that the Diaz brother are beasts.

So now, Conor is off the biggest event ever. Costing the UFC tens of millions of dollars. Conor (a multi-millionaire) decided to take on a billionaire and this is what happened. The replacements are good, but nowhere near McGregor V Diaz2. Both sides may have been stubborn. But the fact is, we won’t get the fight for a while longer. And that is disappointing.

Now the questions is, was this a genius marketing ploy for UFC 201/202/203? McGregor’s tweets are not the most retweeted in sporting history. The promotion has already been done for his next fight. Maybe the UFC where happy in the knowledge that they will get 1.5 million buys for UFC 200 and they want to spread that Conor magic through a few more cards during the year? Thus bringing the total gate receipts for the year up hugely. They are smart folk there in the UFC.

So now for UFC 200 we have Jones v Cormier 2 as the main event. I really hope Daniel beats jones. Based on the last Jones fight I think he can do it. Jon is a polarising figure. He is the best to ever fight in MMA an absolute beast, unbeatable when he is in the right frame of mind. But he has thrown it all away. He is human after the last fight. He could have been a dynasty fighter, one we talk about in our old age, but now he is a joke.

So before something else happens in the world of MMA. I am submitting this piece to the editor.

Until next week, its @nkeegan