Another One Bites The Dust

Shaggy Horgan’s retirement coming so hot on the heels of Jerry Flannery’s really ran the message home: the ‘golden generation’ is coming to its end.  We wouldn’t be the biggest fans of the phrase, but there’s little doubt that a group of great players, broadly split between Leinster backs and Munster forwards, emerged at the start of the last decade and grew old together.  Drico and POC are still going strong, and ROG will play until he’s 96 of course, while DOC and Dorce appear to be on the way out, at international level at least.  Wally is unlikely to return to international rugby.  And that’s pretty much all that’s left.

It’s a group of players that oversaw a complete transformation of Irish rugby’s status and effectively launched the hugely succesful provincial franchises.  As such, it’s a sad day indeed when one of them retires, and that’s certainly how it felt when Shane Horgan’s retirement was confirmed last week.  The news was one of Ireland’s worst kept secrets, and in the end came as no surprise, but the melancholy still resonated.  Shaggy was one quarter of the Leinster ‘glactico’ three-quarter line that tormented international defences and frequently cut loose in the Heineken Cup in spite of a soggy pack.

He started out at centre, but it was when he moved to wing that his career sparked.  A decent crash-ball centre was transformed into a world-class finisher, his shovel-like hands and tall frame clawing their way over the try-line on countless occasions, and his dominance in the air barely needs to be recounted here.  Here’s a countdown of our top 5 Shaggy moments.

5. Intercept try vs. Lllanelli – a showcase for his classic running style.  Thoroughbread stuff, he eats up the ground with ease.

4. ‘Get into the scrum! – on my first visit to the old Thomond Park, at one Leinster set piece, Shaggy was so close to the touchline as to have chalk on his boots.  Which put him pretty close to the crowd.  One flat-capped Munsterman no less than a few feet from him roared out ‘What are you doing on the wing, you big heifer?!  Get into the scrum, would you!’

3. That try No.1 – ‘Shane Horgan, if you’ve done this you’ll be remembered for many, many years’

2. That Try No.2 – The Gaelic skills in Croker, and all of that.

1. The pass – last phase of the game and Leinster need a try to secure a crucial bonus point at home to Brive.  Take it a way Shageroony…