Round Ireland Yacht Race 2012

It’s now Wednesday morning 27th June and the entire fleet of 36 racing boats are stretched between Belfast Lough (Tonnere de Breskens 3) and Slyne Head off Galway (Ocean Tango). There have been no major dramas other than a collision on the start line and a few minor in-boat problems with gear (Lula Belle had to repair a broken gooseneck, etc)

Check out the start –

As with all sailing events, the wind is a major contributing factor and this race has been a light to medium wind event so far. The forecast is not promising any real fireworks either. With light airs, another enemy comes into play – the tide. Currently, 2 boats have made it through the North Channel tide gate and are now neck and neck on the “charge” to Wicklow. Tonnere, a Ker 46, is leading the way ahead of his much larger foe, Green Dragon, a V70, which in theory should be well out in front.

See the Race tracker

On handicap, a real dogfight has developed between Tonnere and Inis Mor, who between them have lead the race on corrected time since the start. Other challengers, NUI Galway and Noonmark VI are keeping tabs on the leaders but the one all of them will be watching is Cavatina. Already a 2 time winner, Cavatina, has hauled herself up from a lowly placing in the 20’s to 5th this morning. I guarantee you, the tacticians on board the leading boats will be watching her progress every inch of the way.

It’s unlikely that we’ll have a finish before dark tonight and it is quite likely that we could have a match race to the finish of the 46 and 70 footer rivals sometime in the late evening today, early hours of Thursday morning. Winds are southerly but not very strong, so they’ll probably be tacking down the Irish Sea.

Theo and Dennis of our race team will be on hand to greet their crews on arrival and it will be fingers crossed that it will be high tide so that we can get them alongside for a few hours, due to their deep draughts. We hope they’ll consume several draughts of a black liquid if they do make it ashore in Wicklow! The bulk of the fleet will be arriving Thurs pm through to Fri pm, so we expect a fairly buzzing Wicklow Sailing Club clubhouse over the next few days.

After such a brilliant start and a wonderful SailFest, all we need now is a nailbiting finale with mid fleet boats staying in the hunt right up the finish line. Come on Cavatina – no. 3 is in sight, we’re all rooting for you. The other serious dark horse out there at present are the students of NUI-Galway – any Irish winner would be a boost to our flagging morale.

Of course, there is a lot of interest from Wicklow with 6 or 7 sailors scattered amongst the fleet. Currently, the one doing best is Simon Johnson, bowman on board Tonnere. Brian Flahive, on Lula Belle, had been well up the fleet until they broke their gooseneck – the joys of sailing. As always, we wish all our sailors a safe passage and hope to see them again in 2 years time.


Ireland v Republic of Ireland

Two Irish teams were on pitches on the opposite side of the world playing their respective World Champions within 36 hours of each other this last week. In soccer, our boys in green took on the mighty Spanish in Gdansk, the current European and World Champions and lost miserably despite the wonderful support of c.20,000 very forgiving fans. In New Zealand, our rugby team returned for a second bite of the apple against the formidable All Blacks in Christchurch and almost beat them, despite having minimal support.

Lambs before the slaughter


Elegant Matadors preparing for the kill

A sea of Green fans fails to inspire limp Irish team

15 Irish warriors face down the fearsome Haka

Roy has a go at low standards in the Irish camp

Whether we like it or not, Roy Keane told us a few uncomfortable home truths after the game against Spain about our standards and expectations. Speaking as an expert panellist on ITV, he lambasted the Irish performance and also the singing of the fans despite the trouncing being handed out by the World Champions. Largely, I have to say I agree with his core point but his delivery was OTT and to an extent, offensive. As he is probably one of the best players ever to pull on an Irish shirt and in his playing days, his standards were always for perfection, he is in a place to hand down criticism. This team has nothing like the quality of players assembled by Jack Charlton so it is unfair to be overly harsh on them.

Giovanni Trappatoni has achieved his target of reaching a major championships but without players of sufficient quality to grace such a vaunted stage. There are rumours of dissent among the players, quality young players are being ignored and his ideas seem to focus on his way or no way – a recipe for disaster when other teams know the script before taking the pitch. Ireland is not producing the Roy Keanes, Liam Bradys, Paul Mc Graths etc at present and even if we were, Trap might ignore them! Many of his players now ply their trade in lower status teams and are not on the mercurial wages of many of their illustrious predecessors.

Enda calls for an all island Ireland team

Even though it is a political hot potato, maybe Enda Kenny is right – why not join forces with our fellow islanders north of the border and form an all island Ireland team. In the past, it would have been a delight to see George Best, Pat Jennings, John Giles and Liam Brady play together in green. There could be future talent waiting in the wings on either side of the border and what a joy it would be to see them playing as a united team. It works well in Rugby – where would this team be without Rory Best, Stephen Ferris, Andrew Trimble and previously such luminaries as Willie John Mc Bride, Mike Gibson and Trevor Ringland. We are too small of an overall population to be splitting our resources.

BOD has a go at the Kiwi defence


Robbie Keane in better days







When you compare the leadership qualities of both Robbie Keane, Ireland’s soccer captain and Brian O Driscoll, our rugby captain, both are top scorers and multiple cap winners for their country, there is no comparison. O Driscoll appears to lay his life on the line everytime he wears the green of Ireland, while Keane, admittedly a trier, drifts in and out of games and often lets the head down if things are not going our way. Of course, his cause is not always helped by a very poor service from mediocre players, while O Driscoll has a lot of quality players all around him to help his case.

Roy Keane and Enda Kenny are shooting from the hip on different angles but our soccer team will not achieve miracles without the best talent available from this tiny island as a whole. We might be higher in the rubgy pecking order as only a relatively few nations play at the top level but our cause is helped immeasurably by being an all island team. As with the Peace Process, let us move forward towards sporting unity and maybe political unity might follow someday.

Enniscorthy RFC do it again

Receiving the Leinster Junior Challenge Cup

My home town team, Enniscorthy Rugby Football Club, where I started playing the game as a kid and later as an adult for 5 or 6 years, won it’s 7th Provincial Towns 1sts Cup in its centenary year by defeating Tullow RFC at Portarlington yesterday, 15th April. With 4 successes way back in the 1920’s, another in 1963 and most recently before yesterday in 1989, they have proved to be remarkably consistant with wins roughly in each generation of it’s 100 year existence.

LBRFU President Stuart Bailey hands over PTC pennant to ERFC President Charlie Kavanagh

My first cousin, another Charlie Kavanagh, had the honour of being club president for this landmark year and relished accepting the accolades on behalf of the players and club. Another cousin Charlie, in company with his brothers and my nephew Terry, were kept up to date with events in the early hours of Monday morning down in Perth, Australia. This win literally reverbated around the world!

ERFC and TRFC line up for the National Anthem

Fans give vocal support

Both Tullow and Enniscorthy come with the reputation of being two of the best supported Junior clubs in Leinster and the huge crowd at Portarlington was testament to that. Supporters were 3 or 4 deep all around the ground, with opposing fans intermingling in good humour in the fine weather. Once the National Anthem was out of the way, the noise levels lifted and the game commenced.

Enniscorthy applying pressure

With the wind at their backs, ‘Scorthy were quickly out of the blocks and played most of the early 20 minutes well into the Tullow half.

Ross Barbour races in for 1st try

Good Tullow defense and an off day for kicking by the Enniscorthy fly half Ivan Poole kept them scoreless but eventually the pressure told and captain Ross Barbour crashed over for a well taken try, converted by Poole.

Ivan Poole about to kick for goal

Soon afterwards, Poole finally found his range with a penalty to leave the score 10 – 0.

Hughie O Neill dives in for try no. 2

With a few minutes to go to half time, ‘Scorthy winger Hughie O Neill weaved his way through several poor tackle attempts to score on the opposite wing, diving bravely under Tullow men to get his touch down to give his team a 15 point lead. Tullow were now in danger of being annihilated and responded with gusto. They totally dominated the last 5 minutes of the first half and were rewarded with 2 penalties to leave the half time score 15 – 6 in favour of the Wexford men.

Alan Jacob puts into a scrum for Enniscorthy

Having bossed the game in all areas of the pitch in the first half, it was up to Enniscorthy to hold their nerve and cool to contain a determined Tullow side in the second half. Scrums, lineouts and back play were all dominated by the Wexford men, with only their goal kicking letting them down. Now playing against the wind, indiscipline started to creep into the game and the ‘Scorthy open side flanker was lucky not to see yellow for throwing punches in front of the referee. Willie Canavan kicked a long range penalty to close the gap to 6 points. Not long afterwards, veteran forward and former Leinster hero, Deccie O Brien did however find himself cooling off in the sin bin for an offense. Tullow missed this kick and a few minutes later, Enniscorthy had another try from a determined forward drive that released the backline and Fiachra Ryan ran in for a 5 pointer in the corner. A few minutes later, Poole made it 23 – 12 and the game looked over.

Enniscorthy were playing well but Tullow just would not go away. With time running out, they applied a serious amount of pressure to the Enniscorthy try line, eventually forcing their way over for a try in the dying minutes. With the score at 23-17, they needed another try but the clock was against them and Enniscothy deservedly took their 7th PTC trophy win in their centenary year.

Championes, championes ole, ole ole.

Alan Jacob

President Charlie Kavanagh celebrates

Charlie Kavanagh, my namesake, made a speech on behalf of the victorious club, commiserating with Tullow and congratulating Portarlington on a well run event. He pointed out that scrumhalf Alan Jacob was the brother of Darren Jacob, the jockey who rode Neptune Collonges to Grand National glory the previous day, a very proud weekend for their parents and family. It was a fitting way to celebrate 100 years of rugby in Enniscorthy and all players and teams can take credit for the Clubs endurance and performance over that century. He made the point that he had to be home before Tuesday evening, as his wife was due back on Wednesday – a veiled reference to the last extended celebrations in 1989, when they beat Mullingar to lift the PTC.

It was great to be there to witness the success of my old club for which I still have great affection and strong family ties to. Rugby is alive and well in provincial Ireland and with Tullow producing current Ireland star, Sean O Brien, let’s hope these strong nurseries will prosper for several more years to come. Well done Enniscorthy Rugby Club – we’re proud of you all.