Rocket Man Ronnie must be quaking in his boots as we could meet three times in coming weeks

by Gazette Reporter
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Autumn is supposed to be the season of mellow fruitfulness but there is nothing mellow about the prospect of facing Ronnie O’Sullivan three times across a snooker table.

If I win my qualifier for the English Open later this week in Sheffield, that is what will happen as already we are due to meet twice in different events in China this autumn.

Poor Ronnie… he must be quaking in his boots!

Ronnie is a generational player and arguably the best of all time  but I always look forward to playing against him even if he will be the overwhelming favourite to win in our encounters. Still, I always believe I am capable of an upset.

As I explained in my last column some time ago, I’ve found it hard to get over to Dublin recently and I felt particularly sad that I was caught up when Dublin reclaimed Sam Maguire against Kerry six weeks ago.

I was therefore delighted to be able to hit Croke Park last week to help Raheny GAA with their club fund-raiser.

 What an enjoyable function that turned out to be with the likes of  Kilkenny’s hurling legend Richie Power, Mayo keeper Rob Hennelly, paralympian Orla Comerford, Dub midfielder Brian Fenton, former Ireland soccer captain Kenny Cunningham and myself forming two panels for discussion.

These are the moments I really enjoy being around sport. I learned so much just listening to these great people talk about their experiences. For instance Richie has eight All-Ireland medals and despite that, he told the audience his great achievement was winning the club intermediate All Ireland with the fellas he grew up with in his native Carrickshock.

Kenny Cunningham always has interesting views on sport and life and mixed both when telling us about the first time he brought his son, born and raised in England while Kenny was a professional footballer, to Croke Park.

When he first told his son they had two tickets to the All Ireland, the young lad thought it was a licence to see places all around the country. He hadn’t a clue of what the term ‘All-Ireland’ meant. Kenny had to explain that the All Irelands in football and hurling were like FA Cup finals to English lads.

The son didn’t react too much on the way in on the bus or even when walking up Jones’ Road and going into Croke Park. However when he saw the size of the crowd and the friendly rivalry between the counties, his reaction changed.

By the second half he was hugging other people every time there was a score and it proved a really rewarding day for the two of them as they headed back home.

I could empathise deeply with Kenny’s story as I still have not done that Croke Park rite of passage with my own son.

Yes, we have been to Old Trafford together and at rugby and soccer matches in the Aviva Stadium, but next year we will get to watch Dublin footballers and hurlers at Croke Park as part of our on-going bucket list.

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