O’Driscoll sheds light on struggles some men face

Our man Frank on Brian O’Driscoll’s mental health documentary; The passing of a Creggs Rugby stalwart; A local Lip Synch countdown…and more

When I was a young lad (and even when I was not so young), rugby was a game that was sort of looked upon as only being played by upper class, private school boys – a sport which was definitely not to be found in small rural places like Creggs, Monivea or Dunmore.

Things began to change in the 1970s, and the arrival on the rugby scene of small village clubs meant that the game was now being played by people from all walks of life. It was no longer the ‘property’ of the upper classes.

Suddenly, rugby was getting more and more popular. The big international games became great social occasions, and by the 1980s everyone was familiar with the stars of the Irish international teams; men like Moss Keane, Fergus Slattery, Ciaran Fitzgerald and Willie Duggan were household names.

Trips to Lansdowne Road became a regular occurrence for lots of us culchies, and rugby weekends in Dublin were certainly not for the faint-hearted. There was always a suspicion that rugby was more a social game than the likes of Gaelic football or hurling – rugby matches invariably led to major drinking sessions. For all their wonderful ability as rugby players, people like Moss and Willie were as well known for their socialising as for their playing skills.

Then it all changed in 1995, when rugby went professional. All of a sudden, lads were making a good living from playing a game they loved – but of course the fact that they were now playing for their own and their families’ futures brought new and unwelcome pressures.

For example, there was Brian O’Driscoll, arguably Ireland’s best ever rugby player, who enjoyed 15 years as a top professional. However, in his new documentary ‘After The Roar’, he reveals the huge effect that retirement from the game had on him, and his struggles to deal with the subsequent loss of identity.

Suddenly, he was no longer ‘Brian the rugby player’. The structure he had in his life was gone, as was the adulation of the adoring crowd. He was no longer part of a dressing room, and he went through a few years of something not unlike depression.

In the documentary, which is well worth a watch, he visits other recently retired sportsmen, including Tony McCoy and Gareth Southgate. All of those featured spoke of how they suffered from withdrawal symptoms, and how their mental health was affected. O’Driscoll got psychotherapist Richie Sadlier on board for the programme, and candidly discussed his experiences with him, which is the most telling thing about the whole documentary – the fact that Brian is willing to open up about his struggles and the effects on his mental health.

It has long been recognised that when it comes to possible mental health issues, most men won’t seek any help, and will instead carry on pretending/lying to themselves and everyone else that everything is grand. Many will bottle it all up, often leading to an inevitable, tragic result. For someone like Brian O’Driscoll to bravely face the cameras and tell his story has to be an inspiration to any man struggling with mental health issues. No matter how bad things are, there is help out there. Oftentimes, it can really help to simply talk about it.

So I suppose the message is that if you are struggling, don’t ignore the problem – go and seek help. It is out there.


Whisper it…Lip Sync weekend coming up!

Here in Creggs, the local school’s Parents’ Association (under the guidance of Grace Cunniffe) are holding a two-night Lip Sync show in the school hall on both Friday, October 14th and Saturday, October 15th (from 7 pm).

The Friday night show is for families, with tickets costing €5 for kids and €10 for adults. Meanwhile, the Saturday night show is for adults only, with admission at €15. Tickets are on sale in the school and in O’Rourke’s. You can also pay on the door.

Back in 2019, the first of these shows took place, and local TD Michael Fitzmaurice almost brought the house down (literally). That year, Gibby and I did the Crosswell version of Kenny and Dolly’s ‘Islands in the Stream’. I was so good that I have been moved upstairs and am now a highly qualified judge.

There will be no alcohol allowed on the Friday night – being family night – but on the Saturday night adults can bring their own tipple with them, support the local school, and have an absolute ball! I can’t wait to see you all there!

See you in Dowd’s!

As I told you last week, Paddy Lally is celebrating his 80th birthday with a ‘do’ in Dowd’s of Glinsk on Saturday, October 8th, with music by the wonderful Lancers. Any contributions people make will go to Cancer Care West. Everyone is welcome, so be sure to come along.

Dowd’s is the place to be this Saturday night. It will be great to welcome back live music and dancing after the tribulations of Covid. See you there!


A dining treat

It’s Thursday evening as I write, and Carol and I are coming home from a hospital appointment in Galway. As it’s now late in the evening, we are getting hungry, but the option of cooking when we get home doesn’t appeal, so we decide to stop off somewhere for a bite to eat.

For a long time now I’ve been hearing good reports about the food in Screene’s of Guilka (near Menlough), and so we made a little detour off the main Galway road.

Jimmy Screene was a serious rugby player back in the day, a man who won a number of Ireland ‘A’ caps and who was a key member of a very successful Buccaneers senior team. Now he runs a successful pub and restaurant in Guilka.

When we visited on Thursday evening the place was busy – but not too packed – and everything about our visit was exactly as we hoped it would be. The food was excellent, as was the service, which was provided by very friendly and affable staff. The value was simply amazing. So if you get a chance, pay it a visit! It will be well worth it.


Wishing our local ladies the best of luck

Out here in Creggs, county finals don’t come our way that often, but on this Saturday evening at 4.45 pm in the St Faithleach’s grounds in Ballyleague, the ladies of St Ciaran’s (which, of course, is an amalgamation of Creggs and Fuerty) take on Boyle in the Intermediate County Final.

For Fuerty supporters, it will be a busy day, as they will already have played St Dominic’s in the men’s semi-final, but let’s hope everyone that can will be able to make it to Ballyleague to support the ladies. I have no doubt Boyle will be serious opponents and will be very confident of winning it themselves, but I truly believe Ciaran’s can bring home the cup and give us a reason to celebrate and light the bonfires all over the parish.

Come on ladies, ye can do it!

And finally…

Here in Creggs Rugby Club, we are mourning the loss of John Egan. He was a man who played a huge part in the development of the club, and who was in every way a larger than life character.

John was one of the few men that I ever saw casually pick up a six-inch block in either hand, while I was struggling to lift a four-inch one with both hands. When we played in our first ever cup final in 1977, he manned the second row with Seamus Keane. For a good few years afterwards, ‘The horse’ Egan (who really was a horse of a man) was a stalwart of the pack, both as a second row and a prop forward. His contribution to Creggs Rugby Club, both on and off the field, was immense.

Sadly, John passed away last week. To his wife Anne, his sons Kieran, John and Padraig, and his extended family and friends, we extend our deepest sympathy. As someone who was lucky enough to have played alongside him for a number of years, and who benefited from his ever-willing protection on the field, I can truly say we will never see his likes again. May he rest in peace.