People had questioned our integrity, our pride, our passion, but we produced a big passionate performance today
Brian O’Driscoll is one of the classiest acts knocking around in sport. Quite apart from being a genuinely world class player who applies himself with diligence to his craft, he is modest in victory and generous in defeat. When asked a number of years back after another quarter-final disappointment for Leinster who he would be cheering for in the rest of the tournament, he replied “Munster, of course!” and you could see he meant it – it never entered his head to think otherwise.
Which makes the quote above all the more significant. Even someone as mellow as O’Driscoll found the constant cuts at Leinster’s supposed lack of pride to be galling. Imagine if he had read Leinster being described as “those British chaps from Dublin“? Imagine then his thoughts as he went out to face that bould son of Erin, Lifeimi Mafi. Pain? In the words of another fake Irishman, the trick is not bothering about the pain.
I’m generally dismissive of the notion that players can be buoyed up by the words of their opponents (see: Richie Bennis), but that doesn’t mean you should tempt fate. Munster and their boosters have being doing this for years now, and it well and truly blew up in our collective faces yesterday. If nothing else, the embarrassment factor should mitigate against such behaviour.
Of course, some would argue that Waterford are in no position to be lecturing anyone on pompous jersey-kissing antics, to which I’d say that you are right. The embarrassment factor certainly applies when the men who would die for the jersey are as good as their word on the biggest occasion. But at least no one from Waterford has ever said or implied that pride in their county / province is unique to ourselves. When the Irishmen of Leinster take to the field against Cardiff or Leicester in the ERC final, it’ll be interesting how many of the proud Paddies will be rooting for them.