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    Sunday Times Interview: Ronan O’Gara

    Sunday Times

    @@@@SPAN style="font-weight: bold;">The Big Interview: Ronan O'Gara@@@@/SPAN>

    The fly-half has earned new respect after a series of commanding displays for Ireland and Munster — but he’s not finished yet

    Scenes from the final whistle: Heineken Cup final, Twickenham, May 27, 2000. Ronan O’Gara stood in the middle of the field, leaning on his left hip, as he sometimes does. David Wallace stood two yards away. For 30 seconds they made no contact. At that moment nobody could have reached him. In a crowd of 68,000 people there were family and friends but not one of them could have broken the loneliness.

    A young Munster supporter breached the security cordon, scurried across the field and approached O’Gara with a match programme to sign. He gently turned him away. The lad took five paces back and trained his camera on the wreckage of O’Gara’s countenance. He withdrew his face from the camera’s view. The lad meant no harm but at the time any visitor from the outside world would have seemed like an intruder.

    Ten or 12 of the Munster entourage made their way to him in turn to pay their respects: sorry for your trouble. They cradled his head in their chests, tossed his hair, whispered words of consolation in his ear. What could they say? How much will O’Gara have heard? He had a last-minute kick to win the match. It was a tough kick from out wide, from distance, in a tricky wind. He struck it well. It missed.

    In those circumstances there are no shades of success or failure. The roulette wheel spins and there are only two colours: red or black.

    Black it was.

    In interviews over the years O’Gara didn’t dwell on that miss or the other three from that afternoon. He once said that he had “hardly thought about it since”. He didn’t owe us his private thoughts and it seemed as if the question was just one step removed from the boy with the camera. No flash photography. Please.

    But then, in an Irish Times interview which appeared on the morning of this year’s final, O’Gara addressed the question more comprehensively than he ever had before. This was the core of his answer: “I can understand that people say I bottled it against Northampton. That is their opinion. But I watched that video a few times, they were hard kicks and I struck them well. Just didn’t go over.”

    On that week, of all weeks, he could have deflected the question once more. He could have decided that whatever he said might be a hostage to fortune. He could have identified it as a negative thought and refused it entry at the border of his mind. But that wouldn’t have been true to the player he is now. He had reached an accommodation with that day in Twickenham. He didn’t need flimsy defence mechanisms in public. He didn’t need to say that he hadn’t thought about it. He had. His thinking was done. He didn’t expect it would happen again. Or he didn’t fear it. In his evolution as an elite athlete that was the point he had reached.

    He tells a story from the summer of 2002. Over the previous year he had lost his place on the Irish team to David Humphreys. In seven of Ireland’s previous eight Test matches O’Gara had started on the bench. He had missed a couple of kicks in the second half of the 2002 Heineken Cup final against Leicester but his overall form had been excellent and for the tour to New Zealand he was first choice again. They played with a yellow Adidas ball that summer, which Andrew Mehrtens described as a “pig”. Ireland had a good chance to win one of the Tests but O’Gara’s goal kicking let him down and over the two Tests he was 1-8 with the boot. The ball was one reason but he knew deep down that he couldn’t just blame the ball. He couldn’t run from this; he couldn’t hide in excuses.

    “The person that was knowledgeable to me on that subject (mental strength) was Woody (Keith Wood),”

    #2
    He has a high enough opinion of himself anyway.
    It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

    Every plan I have is the best plan in the room. Everybody get quiet and listen to it, and everybody will win

    Comment


      #3
      bull Joey, it's a good interview. Says it as it is. Langer or not. he's gold for us and he looks like a different player than this time last year. Confidence is good.
      Frank the Tank is not coming back. OK? That part of me is over, water under the bridge.

      Comment


        #4
        Confidence is good, taking 3 finals to perform isn't though. Even still, his loose kicking in the last 10 minutes against Biarritz could have cost us a 3rd final. He is in great form, long may it continue.

        It is a source of absolutely no comfort to me that he is our only option for the RWC, and it's a mystery that a country that produced Campbell and Ward at one time hasn't produced someone better than O'Gara in 10 years, and is reduced to poaching schoolkids from New Zealand.
        It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

        Every plan I have is the best plan in the room. Everybody get quiet and listen to it, and everybody will win

        Comment


          #5


          Originally posted by JoeyFantastic
          Confidence is good, taking 3 finals to perform isn't though. Even still, his loose kicking in the last 10 minutes against Biarritz could have cost us a 3rd final. He is in great form, long may it continue.

          It is a source of absolutely no comfort to me that he is our only option for the RWC, and it's a mystery that a country that produced Campbell and Ward at one time hasn't produced someone better than O'Gara in 10 years, and is reduced to poaching schoolkids from New Zealand.

          Joey, you portray the arrogance of youth, thankfully. There was, and wiil be a time whenonly one is a saviour[img]smileys/wink.gif[/img]
          We made a balls of it, and that's something we've got to live with: Ronan O'Gara. (losing home HC record v Leicester)

          Look at soccer. If you get tackled, you pretend you are half dead. If you get punched in the face in rugby, you try to pretend nothing happened. (Paul O'Connell)

          Comment


            #6


            Originally posted by JoeyFantastic
            Confidence is good, taking 3 finals to perform isn't though. Even still, his loose kicking in the last 10 minutes against Biarritz could have cost us a 3rd final. He is in great form, long may it continue.

            nice one, typical. Look back in anger, give out about him and then say he's playing well. To pick holes like that I'd wonder if it's a chip on your shoulderor do you appreciate the victory we had in the final at all. You are the first person I have heard mention his kicking could have cost us the game in the last 10 minutes, many things could have cost us the game but we won it, andmuch of it was down to his performance.


            Is it because he's from Cork Joey? [img]smileys/lol.gif[/img]
            Frank the Tank is not coming back. OK? That part of me is over, water under the bridge.

            Comment


              #7


              ROG is making the most use of the talent he has now, you can't ask much more from any player, what issues he has with his game (defence,pace etc.)I'm not sure he can do much more about. Clearly Carter is the best 10 by a country mile. After that ROG is fighting with Jones and Contepomi for 2nd best. Steyn played a lot at OH in SA AFAIK, so maybe he will be the net big thing at OH, the Boks need someone like him to come through. Larkham has been a shadow of his former self lately, imo.


              It's a pity we have little competition for ROG now, that ismy biggest criticism of EOS, he's had the time to work out a plan to bring someone through, but he did nothing.

              Comment


                #8




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                ROG is without doubt one of our greatest Munster players, and is still developing his game at international level. He already belongs with the legends.


                ...But, I'm starting to get a nagging feeling that he's in our papers too often, and his story is beginning to get overworked (e.g. seeing himself fillinga leadership vacuum, electric against France when they were 43-3 down, sitting at the top table, not to mention 12,000 people in Clifford Park).


                And anyway, he still can't say he's really made it until Stephen Jones gives him the stamp of approval. Surely, then, his last demon will be finally laid to rest.[img]smileys/wink.gif[/img]
                "I don't believe in fairytales," O'Connell once told me, "even though it feels like I've been lucky enough to live through a few. However it ends, I'll feel lucky."
                Donald McRae, Guardian Rugby, October 2015

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Harry





                  Is it because he's from Cork Joey? [img]smileys/lol.gif[/img]


                  Or San Diego[img]smileys/wink.gif[/img]

                  Comment


                    #10

                    Originally posted by The Dave
                    Originally posted by Harry





                    Is it because he's from Cork Joey? [img]smileys/lol.gif[/img]


                    Or San Diego[img]smileys/wink.gif[/img]
                    A mere happenstance of location at his time of birth.

                    He's as Irish as anyone here, and certainly more so than many [img]smileys/shock.gif[/img]

                    Comment


                      #11


                      I believe we have not yet seen ROG at his best.


                      I expect great things over the next 12 months.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Dermot G
                        Originally posted by The Dave
                        Originally posted by Harry





                        Is it because he's from Cork Joey? [img]smileys/lol.gif[/img]


                        Or San Diego[img]smileys/wink.gif[/img]

                        A mere happenstance of location at his time of birth.

                        He's as Irish as anyone here, and certainly more so than many [img]smileys/shock.gif[/img]

                        ...hence the emoticon[img]smileys/mad.gif[/img]

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Harry


                          Originally posted by JoeyFantastic
                          Confidence is good, taking 3 finals to perform isn't though. Even still, his loose kicking in the last 10 minutes against Biarritz could have cost us a 3rd final. He is in great form, long may it continue.

                          nice one, typical. Look back in anger, give out about him and then say he's playing well. To pick holes like that I'd wonder if it's a chip on your shoulderor do you appreciate the victory we had in the final at all. You are the first person I have heard mention his kicking could have cost us the game in the last 10 minutes, many things could have cost us the game but we won it, andmuch of it was down to his performance.


                          Is it because he's from Cork Joey? [img]smileys/lol.gif[/img]


                          No it's not, it's not just down to the first 2 finals either. I think it was the Toulouse semi, after we'd beaten Leicester, and O'Gara trying to be a hero and going for drop goals that were well outside his range even though there was enough time on the clock to be patient and work our way down the field for better position.... can still feel the pain.
                          It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

                          Every plan I have is the best plan in the room. Everybody get quiet and listen to it, and everybody will win

                          Comment


                            #14


                            Like many here I'm a huge Rog fan. Nobody on that Lion's tour had the backs moving as well as him. Yes, there were those missed tackles, but the guy is a gift &amp; Munster and Ireland would be in s**t street without him. Think of that try in Toulouse, the hand of on big Mal...Rog is a Ligind!


                            The word Begrudgery eminates from these shores and as soon as a fella backs himself, the "who the hell those he think he is" brigade comes out.


                            GWAN ROG, YOU DE MAN [img]smileys/thumb-up.gif[/img]
                            Con Artist

                            Comment


                              #15
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                              //->What begrudgery?

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                              //->

                              "I don't believe in fairytales," O'Connell once told me, "even though it feels like I've been lucky enough to live through a few. However it ends, I'll feel lucky."
                              Donald McRae, Guardian Rugby, October 2015

                              Comment

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