Kidney Axes ROG

Roy Keane used to say that he always knew that when the end came, it wouldn’t be pretty.  And so it was as Declan Kidney swung the axe and almost certainly ended the test career of Ireland’s most capped player; the divisive, cantankerous, chippy, bullishly self-confident but unquestionably brilliant Ronan O’Gara.

Sport can be cruel in many ways, and watching one of Ireland’s most respected players of all time decline to such an abject level over the last two weeks has not made for pleasant viewing.  It has been obvious for some time that ROG has been in decline, and while his street team of media apologists would have you believe the opposite, this day has been looming since the middle of last season.  We have a few observations on the matter:

1. On rugby terms, it’s the right decision.  Yes, it’s awful for ROG personally to have it end like this: it’s sad that his final act of any significance was a loopy, harebrained crossfield kick that ultimately consigned Ireland to a sorry defeat in Murrayfield.  But there’s no room for sentiment on this one.  It would have been the right decision to bring Madigan into the fold at the start of the Six Nations, and it’s still the right decision now.  To jettison ROG mid-tournament looks awful, but the (Kidney) clock cannot be turned back.  Decisions can only be made for the next game, not the last, so it’s the right decision, however awfully it has been made.

It was, though, the wrong decision to keep him in the 23 since the summer, and for that Kidney should be roundly castigated.  The whole situation is a mess of the coach’s making, succession planning at its absolute worst.  The failure to grasp before now that O’Gara was no longer a test player amounts to a costly blunder.

2. ROG should have retired after the 2011 loss to Wales. The danger of playing on too long is that you sully your legacy.  There will be articles about the end of the ROG era this week, but the ROG era ended with the 2011 World Cup.  His noteworthy contributions to test matches since that dismal quarter-final are… what exactly?  He has not started a game in that time, while Sexton has authoritatively claimed ownership of the shirt.  His tenacity and self-belief are admirable, but it has tipped over into a slightly sad sight over the last two series, when it has been clear he’s no longer capable at this level.  It was the right time to go, and he should have done it. For all those saying ROG deserves to go out on his own terms; well that was his chance and he turned it down.

3. Kidney – the man for 2015.  Or so he’d have you think.  Declan Kidney’s selection policy has swung from archly conservative to ‘throwing in ver yoof’.  It’s hard not to be a touch cynical and see it has him positioning himself as a coach with an eye on the 2015 world cup, presiding over a young team.  A transitional coach, if you will.  It’s like a switch has been flicked.  First the change of captaincy, now he’s thrown ROG over the side of his sinking ship to try and keep it afloat.  While in and of itself it’s the right decision (see number one above) it’s a bit hard to stomach the manner in which Deccie has done business.

4. Madigan is there on merit.  While all the airspace will be taken up by ROG, it shouldn’t be forgotten that his replacement deserves his place in the squad.  He picked up rave reviews for his performance in the untelevised win over the Dragons on Friday night, where he kicked three from four from out wide, and continues a hot streak of form.  He is the form 10 in the country and looks to have the stuff for test rugby, albeit with a weak kicking game from hand.  It’s appeared up to now that he is not the fly-half Kidney is looking for, but his form must count for something.  He deserves his chance, at least off the bench.

5. Remember the good times.  Forget the awful cross-kick and the 10m kicks to touch, and remember ROG as he deserves to be remembered.  The cheeky try against South Africa.  The cross-field kick to Shaggy. The try in the corner in Croker against France.  Converting Shaggy’s try in Twickenham to make it a four point game.  Too many penalties and conversions to mention.  We have also heard, but require confirmation, that he once scored a drop goal of some importance.

6. The Cork Con Mafia can go for a lie down.  If ROG has been one of the greatest ever Irish internationals, he has also been one of the most protected, with an army of media campaigners in place to avoid reference to his bad performances, and remind us of the failings of his rivals.  Right up to this week they were still at it.  The poor fellows must be exhausted, as their task has taken on Sisyphean proportions in recent months.  Take a lie down, chaps, and think of Peter O’Mahony.

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57 Comments

  1. You don’t think O Gara was one of Ireland’s greatest ever players?

    • Er, “unquestionably brilliant”, “most respected player”? [That includes our own respect, perhaps it sounds a bit third-party-ish?]. All of number 5? We’ll save the eulogies until he retires properly, but of course, with 128 caps and a ridiculous haul of points he goes down as one of the greats. An iceman in the heat of battle.

  2. montigol

     /  March 4, 2013

    Sissyphus-like has been edited to Sisyphean since publication – top work gents.

    Personally this kind of make-it up as you go along management sticks in the craw – so we’ll be dropping another outhalf into the middle of a championship out of the blue. Personally I think Madigan is more talented than Jackson but again, this is loopy, cackhanded management.

    • You win a spotter’s badge montigol!

      This campaign is turning into something of a circus alright. When you think of how most coaches prepare for test matches down to the nth degree, the way we’re bungling our way through the series is Keystone Cops stuff.

  3. Rich

     /  March 4, 2013

    He was one if our greats for sure – but it is his decision to hang in there that has blurred many a perception of him.

    Kidney is clearly trying to pull in a few young players to show he has what it takes. But it must be remembered he is only doing this due to injury. His loyalty to has beens should seal his fate

    Next question is will he be arrogant enough to hang around and stifle hanrahan and keatley at club level? This is also a rake sounding yes I m afraid. And for those who say his experience will help them – he is not that kind of person. He ll fight til the end to play – he even used the media to chip away at sexton, not the type of assistance young sexton wanted I am sure?? A coaching role maybe to sooth the ego??

  4. It is without doubt a rather ignominious end (assuming it is the end) to a stellar career. It’s also however, on form, the right call, but you would have to question the timing, it smacks of desperation from a coach and his staff desperate to keep their jobs post June, perhaps that’s overly cynical but how else do you explain the recent slew of ‘gambles’ from the consummate conservative?

    On you twitter feed yesterday someone made the suggestion that ROG did in fact want to call it quits after RWC 2011 but faced a 50% pay cut to go off a central contract. If I recall correctly you didn’t give much credence to this theory (I’m not sure I do either) but I would be interested to find out if anyone can provide what basis in fact, if any, this suggestion has? Were it true it would be a shocking indictment of the IRFU.

    I wish ROG the best and will always remember him for the superb player he was with both Munster and Ireland, one of Ireland’s greatest.

    • Amiga500

       /  March 4, 2013

      “Were it true it would be a shocking indictment of the IRFU.”

      Why? A non international player should not be getting paid the same as an international.

      I would criticise the IRFU for not already having contract clauses to that effect, but not for cutting his wage. [I have heard rumours that Sexton wanted parity with ROG’s pay, the IRFU didn’t offer it, so he went to Paris.]

  5. People may have a blurred memory because of him over the last two years but a lot of people from some corners of the media and public were ready to jump on him for a long time.

    • Some corners of the media? Which ones? He has been sheltered by the media to an extraordinary degree. ROG was a great player, no question, and his list of achievements is there for all to see, but this line of argument that he was somehow put upon does not stand up to scrutiny.

  6. Connachtexile

     /  March 4, 2013

    Does anyone else want Donal Lenihan and George Hook to do a DVD commentary of some kind where they can extoll the genius of 10m kicks and bad cross kicks to the public? I think it would be comedy gold. I for one never laughed so much than at their ‘expert analysis’ at the Osprey’s game. How Hook can say those things with a straight face is beyond me.

    P.S. ROG was great but it’s time he went.

    • Joe

       /  March 4, 2013

      But it was bad bounces! That’s why balls landing 15 metres from the touchline didn’t go out too.

  7. Leinsterlion

     /  March 4, 2013

    I could type a long list of all his numerous failings as a player, and how the media and Munster fans hyped of an average international flyhalf(world class kicker though he was), into someone of mythic abilities, but I wont. All I’ll say is this decision came four years too late.
    Its great we have gotten rid of a mediocre and conservative game manager, now if only there was some way we could convince DK to drop himself…..

    • Eoghan

       /  March 4, 2013

      Hit the nail on the head with a big hammer made of reality.
      A Shocking fly half who’s dead ball kicking papered over the cracks of a player who never made a tackle, never took the ball into contact, was a gaping hole in the defensive line that a Boeing could park in
      World class kicker but not as good as hook Lenihan & all the other cork media bell ends would have you believe

  8. solidalarry

     /  March 4, 2013

    I’ve put my comprehensive thought on this below one of Conor George’s Indo articles (…) and won’t repeat them here – I’m at work and there’s only so much skiving one can justify!

    Suffice to say I think you fellas are largely on the money again, although I’m not sure it’s fair to say that these Kidney selections are so self-serving. Rog was picked up to the point where he simply couldn’t be picked any longer (same as Tomas O’Leary) and now has been left out (again, same as TOL and, again, nasty timing for the player involved). I don’t think Declan is really trying to be cute about this necessarily – I think he picks what he thinks is the best team. Unfortunately, I also think his selections policy has long been flawed and, dare I say it, a bit weak.

    I’m as firmly in the Kidney-must-be-replaced camp as anyone else but – sick as I am with the “fuck you, fans, you’ll get nothing from me” media interview babble, which I feel has strayed firmly into insulting territory – I have no reason to believe he’s not a decent man or has ever picked players he didn’t think were the best for the team.

    • Conor’s articles are very funny today, well worth a read if you fancy a bit of a chuckle.

      Ordinarily, we’d agree with you about Kidney. We’ve never been convinced that he has an anti-Leinster agenda, or some of the stuff he gets accused of, and I think the way things have panned out have been as much baecause of the situation in which we find ourselves, but I find it too hard to believe that if Kidney already had a two year contract extension in the bag he’d be selecting the team as he is. It’s the act of a man in the last chance saloon.

      • solidalarry

         /  March 4, 2013

        Perhaps you’re right: “I find it too hard to believe that if Kidney already had a two year contract extension in the bag he’d be selecting the team as he is” – can’t disagree with this, certainly not with too much conviction.

        Worst thing is, where do we go from here? Even if we manage to get a top coach, the infrastructure is a shambles. Of course, crisis=opportunity, and the best case scenario is the incoming coach/manager is given enough power to restructure the whole shebang. To do this effectively, it might be better that the new man is familiar with the cobwebbed corridors of the IRFU. Assuming that the summer tour is overseen by an interim (Ruddock or Foley, presumably – or even Elwood! I know he needs a rest, but a jaunt in America with no real pressure might actually be pleasant), we’re then looking for someone who’s worked with the IRFU and knows what the problems are. This is a very short list (parentheses donate my views) which I will pad out with some fanciful numbers:

        Schmidt (ideal – in fact the Schmidt coach/ O’Shea DoR is the dream ticket)
        Bradley (no)
        McCall (no)
        Matt Williams (no)
        Brian McLaughlin (no)
        Ruddock (maybe)
        Cheika (maybe)
        McGahan (no)

        There’s one more fella, who might end up available by the autumn – it’s certainly possible to construct the chain of events – and, with no better jobs likely to be going, he might consider it: Gatland. I’m not calling for this – but it would be something eyebrow-raising.

      • He’s certainly not anti Leinster – the dear-lord-has-it-really-come-to-this? picks for this week – (Dave) Kearney, Toner, O’Malley!?! – are all Leinster.
        But the fact the beneficiaries, at least in terms of caps and salary, of Kidney’s more bizarre selections have, almost exclusively, been Munstermen: (latterly) O’Gara, O’

      • {hmm, that was suprising}
        …Leary, Mick O’Driscoll, Buckley. Of course I think he picked these players because he’s conservative and stubborn, not because of bias; besides, if you wanted a good conspiracy theory it’s be much more fun to base it on how the players who can feel hardest done under him – Reddan, Ross, Cullen, Downey (before he was rubbish) – have all been released by or walked away from teams coached by Kidney, rather than on the standard interprovincial bunfighting?

    • Amiga500

       /  March 4, 2013

      Fair to say, Conor is finding this a bit “astonishing”.

      He’s failed to realise that if the fly half can’t guide the team into a position where it gets penalty-goal chances, then all the penalty kicking ability in the world is of little use.

    • abitofshoepie

       /  March 4, 2013

      Picking what he ‘thinks’ is the best team is my main worry about Deccie, especially with regards to number 10s. How he continues to ignore Gareth Steenson from his training squads is a mystery to me, the guy was in great form again at the weekend.

  9. Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

     /  March 4, 2013

    I’m loving how the “Cork Con Mafia” tag is catching on. It’s a very valid point and one we should remember the next time anyone becomes a media darling.

    Prominent members include:
    Noel Murphy – Capofamiglia (Succeeded from his father Noel. Has infiltrated right up to Lions level, paving a path for his Sotto Capo)
    Donal Lenihan – Sotto Capo (The Heir apparent. Will have trouble from his Capos having achieved so much already)
    Ralph Keyes – Consigliere (Trusted advisor, now taking a back seat)
    Frankie Sheehan – Capodecina (Ambitious. Wants to one day take over as Capofamiglia. He would do well to listen to those higher up in the family. A blunt instrument and strong recruiter)
    Michael Bradley – Uomini D’onore (A serial underachiever. Was marked for greatness but has failed to fulfill expectations)
    Ronan O’Gara – Uomini D’onore (A very recent and painful promotion, his path is unclear. He will be expected to hold a position of prominence which will likely be of his own choosing)

    • aka the Murphia.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  March 4, 2013

      +1 Hilarious, but it takes a turns sinister turn when you realise its true.

    • Thanks for this Chogan, an absolute hoot!

      I’m picturing Michael Bradley as Fredo from The Godfather, watching on as his Edinburgh side capitulate again: ‘I’m sorry Michael, I just cannot control those players.’

    • RDS Curva Nord

       /  March 4, 2013

      Hilarious

    • and don’t forget capo di tutti capi, Tom Kiernan, who did it all

      • Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

         /  March 4, 2013

        Tom Kiernan – Consigliere (Has held many positions in the organisation. Close friend of Noel Jr. and now his most trusted advisor. Many would Have tipped Tom to be selected for Sotto Capo but Noel Sr. always had his son marked out for the role. Renowned for orchestrating a famous hit on The All Blacks. His loyalty to the cause is unquestionable)

    • Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

       /  March 4, 2013

      Glad you enjoyed it. I am kicking myself for leaving out some of the obvious names, as well as some of the not so obvious ones.

  10. I may be one of the few who actually feel ROG was overrated throughout his career. Was he a great player? No question, but I often felt EOS and Deccie got the best out of him, they built a gameplan to maximise his skillset. I often wonder how good could ROG have been without Munster’s pack of the noughties? I think how high regarded would ROG have been without them? This may sound harsh but I think he would have only been a step or so above a Dan Parks, in my mind the main reason for Ireland’s success was that pack. ROG was great at directing the maround the field and did improve at running a backline as the years progressed. He is one of our greatest no doubt, but he doesn’t seem as highly regarded in other places. There was a time when he was up there with some of the better flyhalves I’ve heard some say he was the second best in the world, I think that would have been extreme. He has been playing poor for over 18 months and should have been dropped for Ireland and Munster a while ago

    I realise I’m in the minority though. Take your shots as you see fit!

  11. L.P.O.

     /  March 4, 2013

    Was Radge one the the all-time greats? Unquestionably no, I’m afraid. But his 128 caps? His top-scorer’s medal? Well, sadly I’d suggest that a large part of those caps came undeservedly- Humphreys was a far superior pivot for the first 5 years of this 13-year sentence, and Sexton was a far superior pivot for the last 4. That leaves about 4 years when he had no realistic rival, and during which time he established a sense of entitlement to a jersey which he held by default. Why were Humphreys and Sexton overlooked? Bullshit I.R.F.U. politics, provincially biased coaches from Cork (perhaps a dash of sectarianism in the former case?)- all in all an ugly picture.

    There were certainly things O’Gara did well- behind a marauding pack that had the upper hand he could kick the corners with precision, and his cross-field kicks as you mention were very accurate. His kicking from the tee was erratic, and depended very much on his state of mind, as mentally he’s vulnerable. Record points? Sure, but anyone who started endless tests over 14 years with the kicking duties would have been likely to secure that one. is it really such an achievement?

    The issue is really the limitations to his game. Firstly, he never felt the need to work on them, as he was bumped above a superior rival early on, then had no competition- so he stagnated. Secondly, if you’re known as a turnstile in defence, and as an immediate turnover in attack if you do run it (which you don’t, unless out of options) then you cripple your team every minute you’re on the pitch. Every single team we’ve played since 2000 have known to run at Radge- that left the back row and inside centres covering his count- or, as Donners put it, looking after their little sister. Perhaps worse is seeing opposition defence drift away to cover the centres when he’s in possession, because they know he poses no threat himself.

    Putting such a burden on the team, there is no way he can go down as an all-time great, when his negatives always outweighed his positives throughout his career.

    • @Leinsterlion, LPO and conorphilpott – plenty of cogent arguments there, and ROG had limitations and even glaring weaknesses of his game, no question. But I think what was almost the most impressive thing about him was that he sustained a career at such a high level in spite of those weaknesses. There will be plenty of articles talking bout how great he is, and we wanted to keep a focus on the matter in hand rather than tipping into eulogies, but at his best you’d have to say that he could make rugby matches bend to his will through sheer bloody-minded brilliance. It might not have been the sort of magical brilliance that Dan Carter or Brian O’Driscoll can produce, but it was brilliance nonetheless.

      • Scrumdog

         /  March 4, 2013

        ROG’s line kicking and goal kicking were top drawer for a very long time. We always waited with full confidence that sooner or later Ireland or Munster would get that penalty and ROG would slot it over or he would get us the field position we needed to go for a try. Truly a master of kicking out of hand or from the tee.He should have called a day on his own terms as he intimated at the 2011 RWC and enjoyed a couple of seasons with Munster and not put himself through the ringer this season. Well done and thanks ROG for a job well done.

        Kidney has been a bloody disgrace the way he has handled our two national rugby heroes this season in his race to keep his own paycheck coming for another four years. We will wonder if Kidney ever met with BOD or Rog in advance of doing what he did, until the Munster player-biographers (what’s the count now?) let us know….. my guess is he did not!

        But now the players will fear him.. if he can do that to BOD and ROG…well nobody is safe, which may not be a bad thing!

  12. Kayvo

     /  March 4, 2013

    Thank god for blogs like this. It can be quite bizarre reading some of the national papers when it comes to the Irish rugby team. As you know Conor George once again made a dig at internet blogger types hiding behind anonymity. But it feels like a lot of the people who are commenting on what he writes are making considered and well articulated points whereas he comes across as a die hard fan who will refuse to listen to anything bad about ROG or DK. All the comments about saying it should never have come to this, ROG should have retired after the world cup etc, are heavily caveated with praise about what a great player he was and what an amazing career he had, in fact some of the comments seem to be at pains to point this out! All these comments are in agreement about all the positive points of ROG’s career, in fact I don’t think I have read about anyone mentioning his up and under and penalty concession against the Boks on the Lions tour, because it was simply a mistake from a great player and not symptomatic of someone in decline. It just does not come across as knee-jerk reactions, provincial bias or trolling, just a presentation of facts that can only lead to the conclusion that ROG’s sell by date has long gone and we are in trouble due to the fact that younger promising players were not given a chance earlier. And yet all the sentimentality is coming from the national journalists, all the sentimentality that is supposed to be the preserve of the crazy irrational fan is with the professionals who are meant to apply cold logic when analysing. Anyway, kudos on the blog, it is a great read and a welcome relief from the frustration that can be got from reading the professionals!

    • Thanks very much Kayvo, you’re very kind. It is indeed a strange world; the print media have turned into fanboys and the internet is the preserve of rational debate! Who’d have thunk it?

    • Yes, but you’re talking about the Independent; the rag that cheerled the housing bubble; the rag that gives us “analysis” from the likes of Brendan O’Connor (remember the “all the smart and ballsy people are buying houses” article, right at the peak of the bubble?); “crazy irrational” precisely describes the output of the Independent. There are journalists that apply “cold logic” to analysis; one thinks of Brendan Fanning or Peter O’Reilly, but none of them, with the possible exception of Franno on a good day, work for the Independent group of newspapers.

  13. L.P.O.

     /  March 4, 2013

    I should add in one more trait that really rules him out of any all-time great players list: he is inherently selfish in his play. O’Gara was not playing for the team, he was always playing for his own personal glory. Endless examples point to this. Take his cross-field in his own 22 against Scotland, take his humping the ball away against the Boks in the Autumn… both tiny % plays, actually verging on the ridiculous… he sees them coming off and his mug blazoned across the front pages in the morning, because, as he put it when he ended the Lions’ cause in South Africa in another moment of madness, he’s a ‘winner’. Is he, though? Is he really? What he certainly is not is particularly likeable- in a similar vein of misplaced self confidence he called for a 40m drop goal in Thomond Park this weekend, one which you’d have put your shirt on him missing in his present decrepit form… which he subsequently missed, rather unsurprisingly, and then berated his scrum-half for no logical reason. One more clipping for the scrapbook gone astray.

    I’d suggest he’s been in a long decline since 2009 (it even rhymes). Grandslam 2009? Shurely shome mishtake? Not really- even in that unbeaten year you could see it. He should have been dropped by 2010. He was still getting selected, for the reasons mentioned above, so he decided to see another World Cup. Should he have certainly retired, all too late, after W.C.2011? Of course. And he stated his intent famously after the Australia game. So why didn’t he? Because he was insincere- he was attempting to put pressure on the coaches to select him over Sexton via the Con Meeja Mafia. Basically his hero, sorry to bring the samanthaball into this, was Roy Keane- self-centred Corkonian ego-maniac who realised he could exploit patsies in print to further his own personal agenda. He waged a war, or had one waged for him, in the papers against Sexton, instead of trying to claim the jersey honestly through his own performances on the pitch. Feel free to remember the highlight-reel moments… but don’t forget Radge smirking and giggling like a school-girl on the bench when Sexton fluffed a kick. He couldn’t give a damn about the team or the jersey- he was only ever looking out for number 1.

  14. In keeping with my outhalf strawmen theme, I really wish people would stop churning out throw-away comments about Madigan’s kicking from hand or game management (boo WOC) – one person writes it and then it spreads as wildfire regardless of its veracity. In reality, Madigan’s kicking from hand is fine – and certainly no worse than that of either ROG or Jackson this season – and you guys should be able to testify to that. I couldn’t see last week’s game but apparently he delivered a decent variety of well executed kicks. Given how poor the Irish kicking game has been (Sexton, ROG, Kearney, Gilroy, Jackson, Murray are all culprits here), you could hardly think Madigan’s would be worse. In short – another straw man but one that is more difficult to counter unless you sit people down in front of hours of rugby.

    As for ROG, bowing out against Fiji in Thomond would’ve been a perfect end: him subbing off after 50 minutes for Jackson for example. All the more so if we had already blooded Madigan and/or Jackson before then. Yes, he should have managed his career end better but those around him should also have advised him better, and the Irish management should have been more realistic.

    • See that’s one area I can’t agree. One of Madigan’s main failings is his kicking from hand. He has the obligatory missed touch from penalty at least once per game, and he’s not near the level of a Sexton for putting the team in the right areas yet.
      He has certianly come on since the likes of the Dragons and Ospreys game at beginning of the year, but his first instinct is still run and pass, when sometimes the well placed kick is far better.

      Fact is, neither his goal kicking or fly half play have been tested at anywhere near 6N level. I have sat down in front of hours of rugby for my sins, and had heard much different in terms of his play on Friday night, and I’d still say Madigan has a long way to go to be a top class 10.

    • Not sure that one’s a straw man Curates. ‘Game management’ as a phrase is something we’ve come to despise – it appears to have taken on a whole meaning of its own, lergely referring to a desire to see a team kick possession away. But I have yet to be convinced by Madigan’s kicking game from hand. He misses touch from penalties too often, and in kicking from his own 22, too often sends easily fielded kicks to the opposition back three. But he’s getting better at it.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  March 4, 2013

        Instruct him not to kick, play to Madiagns strengths. Why focus on a players weakness? O’Gara had no other ability outside of kicking, all of his other deficiencies were hidden by management. Why then if Ireland could build their team around a kicking 10, could we not build our game around a running 10?
        I honestly dont want to see Madigan shoehorned into a gameplan that ill suits his talents. Pick Madigan and instruct him to do what hes good at.

      • PJ gave an absolute masterclass out of hand on Friday night. Let’s hope he can reproduce that form against France.

      • To be clear it is definitely not the strongest part of his game but it is not all that bad – I am just sick of reading throw-away comments from lazy hacks (not you guys obviously) who don’t seem to have watched him play.

        As for the obligatory missed penalty to touch Shane, it honestly seems that all our outhalves are having those this season.

        To be clear, I definitely think Jackson should start on Saturday if fit (and Sexton isn’t) both because you need to invest in him now he has been started and because his game is better suited to France. Madigan – playing to his strengths – would have been better suited for Scotland (and Italy). Am wondering if Sexton is still in contention based on today’s announcement though.

  15. conorphilpott95

     /  March 4, 2013

    L.P.O. The difference between Roy Keane and ROG is that Roy was always a top player, and when he realised he was on the decline he bowed out. Roy Keane may have used the media to his advantage to a degree, was he a top class player? He certainly was. The fact that he was the only Irishman on the Fifa 100 would tell you that. You can talk about the whole Saipan thing and say why did he do it and that it was a disgrace and you would probably be right to say it. One thing I admired Keane for was his unwillingness to accept mediocrity, ten years on the FAI have learned nothing from their shoddy approach to soccer in this country and it is a big reason why Ireland will never come close to achieving anything in soccer. Keane expected all those around him to act like winning and success were the only things that mattered. His attitude at times is certainly questionable but thereare big differences in the two.

    • proofs.gn@gmail.com

       /  March 6, 2013

      Roy Keane didn’t bow out because he knew he was in decline. He was fired by Ferguson and couldn’t hack Celtic after Man Utd. He also had serious injury problems (hip).

      O’Gara is to be admired for sitting on the bench for the last year. That must not have been easy to do for such a competitive animal like him. Humphreys refused to do it.

      • Humphreys did it for 3 years, before quitting because he never got off the bench. And saying Rog should be admired for sitting on the bench brings Chris Rock to mind “That’s what you are supposed to do!” (when you are selected on it)

  16. L.P.O.

     /  March 4, 2013

    It’s not really a can of worms I really wanted to open up, Conor. I just thought it relevant that his fellow Corkonian was O’Gara’s model in how he played the press. And the whole ‘Oi’m a woinnor, so oi em!’ line was stolen directly from Keane’s playbook, which O’Gara used to excuse his play in that Lions’ third test in South Africa. O’Gara stated Keane was his idol in soccer terms, perhaps odd considering he also declared himself a Liverpool fan. I supposed he just liked to fulfill stereotypes across the board. I’d guess it was a Kark thing.

    Was Keane superior to Radge in his code? Relatively, you’d have to say he certainly was. However, they both remain self-obsessed, egotistical manipulative media darlings who aren’t very bright. Difference was Keane never backed down from a fight, but then O’Gara never abandoned his national team at a World Cup. IF ONLY!!!

    Anyway, enough samanthaball analogies. Carry on folks!

  17. “Sub-question: is it in fact unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter day sins, is it better to burn out or fade away?”
    – Barry, High Fidelity

    This is Kidney and Co’s Hail Mary Pass

  18. Len

     /  March 4, 2013

    It’s sad to see a player who’s been with us so long and given us so many good memories (and a few stomach churners) have his career ended in this fashion. One of the big questions that really needs to be asked of the IRFU is why in the decade up to JS assuming power was there no other realistic contender to the ten jersey? Just look at the 07 WC. A clearly out of form and almost bewildered ROG is forced to continuie playing because we had nothing to replace him with. I think part of his longevity can be explained by just that a total lack of options. Love him or hate him (in my case hate since that game against Leinster in the 06 HC) he did a good job for Ireland for a long time but sadly out stayed his welcome. Still laughing at the comments in the indo by Conor George that “current form isn’t a valid reason for this weeks bombshell”. His comedy act gets better every time I read it.

    • Buccaneer

       /  March 4, 2013

      i do acknowledge that there was no alternatives once Humphreys retired (Paddy Wallace is a fine first center, but never a fly half) but it hasnt been mentioned ROG started over 30 consecutive 6 nations games. I think that is remarkable. People talk about how important Hayes was but ROG was in the same boat until JS proved his worth.

      But last years 6 nations really was the time to start blooding new alternatives. ROG could still have been part of the squads and contributed and it really was set up for him to say farewell to the Irish shirt at Thomond as someone already mentioned. Ill never forget the good days, but all this messing at the end has tainted his legacy a bit

    • Slow Eddie

       /  March 4, 2013

      A large part of the reason there was no other option during the 07 WC was that O’Gara had persuaded EOS to play him more or less exclusively. Humphries got tired of sitting on the bench and retired.

      His teary speech to the tv cameras immediately after the Australia match, where he claimed he had the balls to make the kicks, certainly helped get him selected for the Welsh match where he turned over ball again and again either by kicking it away or in contact.

      I think we’d have done better in the last 2 World Cups without him.

  19. We named him the most influential British Lion of all time and, well, he was: http://www.espnscrum.com/lions-tour-2013/rugby/story/170062.html

  20. Rich

     /  March 6, 2013

    Gopperth signs for Leinster – so good competition for Madigan. This is healthy i think – they will be able to contest. Unlike Laulala – who was brought in ahead of Earls……#neveracentre

  21. Go Ruck Yourself

     /  March 6, 2013

    1. Please explain why it is the right decision awfully made. ROG has been solid if unspectacular so far this season, even allowing for a game plan in Munster which is far from intuitive for him. In any of Munster’s big games, he looked very solid (Saracens x2, RM away). I didn’t see too many signs of decline in those games. In the Six Nations so far he has been ineffectual and far from being the steadying influence a 120-odd cap international should provide; he has looked nervous and unsure of himself. That cross-field kick is the kind of shit I’m expecting from Madigan this Saturday. He is out of form, he gets dropped and promising young players replace him; exactly the circumstances he was parachuted into the team in for his debut. So I don’t know what you expect from Kidney for ROG: maybe a nice card and some book tokens?

    Also, if the manner of how ROG was dropped is so disconcerting for you, why should he have been dropped in the summer?! Madigan should have replaced him against NZ? In NZ? Against the reigning World Champions?

    “Here Gert, Les, we need to develop a new 10 for the future, that Leinster reserve 10 has looked pretty tasty in the Rabo behind an utterly dominant pack, let’s develop him so that he can sit on the Leinster bench for every big game for the next six years! What – he doesn’t kick at goal yet – even better!”

    The situation has changed since, obviously, but with Jackson being stood down from the JWC that summer for conditioning, it was perfectly understandable not to bring Madigan in the belief that Jackson could be brought into the fold in November and blooded then.

    2. I disagree that he should have retired, as we would have had NO back-up 10, but I do agree that he shouldn’t be picked based on sentimentality, just so the crowd can give a nice warm applause. Barring marginal calls, the best player available should get the shirt.

    3. We are not blessed with enormous playing numbers so in most cases Kidney doesn’t really have a choice but to run with youth. Take 12 before Scotland – our fit options playing frontline rugby in the 12 jersey were Paddy Wallace, James Downey and Luke Marshall (McSharry was injured) – would you prefer Kidney played Downey so he could “position himself” differently? I would argue that the only players potentially left out on an age basis were Paddy Wallace and Leo Cullen. Kidney is not doing anything particularly exciting by selecting these young players. If they are frontline players with their provinces they are well in the running.

    4. Madigan deserves a shot. He is in form. I’ll be interested to see how he gets on off slow ball in the pissing rain against quality opposition but he has talent and he’s developed his game well to this point.

    5. ROG was limited. He had no running game and that really hampered Ireland’s back play for a long time but I can’t think of a 10 I’d rather have had in a big game, in crappy conditions, facing in an intimidating atmosphere. His territorial kicking game was simply unbeatable.

    6. I’m pretty sure the Cork Con mafia are being replaced by the Dublin blog mafia but anyway…

  22. SD

     /  March 7, 2013

    I went to the Stoop and watched Exeter Chiefs beat a (weakened) Harlequins side last weekend, and I was very impressed by Gareth Steenson at 10.

    I watched Leinster beat Ulster in the HC Final at Twickenham last year, and Jackson then did not look anywhere as assured as Steenson did last weekend. Sure, the stages and occasions were very different, but Steenson has been performing at that level for Exeter for a couple of years now, week-in-week-out.

    I’m amazed that he’s not been involved in any way in the Ireland squad given the current problems with backup at 10. It would be a very bitter pill to see him get a call from England, as has been mentioned in some newspapers over here.

    Get him into the fold, a Wolfhounds game at least, see where it goes. He’ll only be 31 / 32 at the next world cup!

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