America from the outside, Ireland from the inside – Episode 3

Welcome to episode 3 of America from the outside, Ireland from the inside.  Coming to you from a sunny Dublin in the middle of St Patrick’s week, the mood is good.

Starting on the other side of the world, it has been another topsy turvy week in America. We have El Presidente’s spokespeople talking about microwaves that can turn into cameras, we have a political pundit click baiting the country as if she was TMZ and we have President Trump being uncharacteristically quiet.

Starting with the microwaves spying on us. My favourite cartoon, Kelly Anne Conway went on the news channels asking questions about Trump towers being bugged. Again, there is no proof and the narrative has changed a bit from phone tapping to general surveillance. While she was chasing her tail on nationwide TV, she mentioned that microwaves can be turned into tools for surveillance. Pardon my stupidity but I thought microwaves where for making super noodles. She is of course talking nonsense again because she is in a role she is under qualified for. In fairness, she is grilled on this which is hugely important when interviewing anyone political.

https://youtu.be/RodRV9pxAL0 is the clip mentioned above.

We then move from red to blue. Rachel Maddow, a political presenter on MSNBC spent all of Tuesday 15th March talking about the mythical tax return of Trump and how she was going to talk about it on her show. Total click bait that wouldn’t be out of place on a sleazy celebrity news site. All the build-up, what for? Well it was a 2005 tax return that showed Trump paid $38 million tax on $158million income, yes there were some dodgy looking write offs but that wasn’t mentioned nearly enough. Not exactly the treasure she was hoping for and a total let down for anyone who tuned in. It was quite sad to see. A massive error made and it brings her trust factor right down. It is exactly the same thing that news channels from the other side do. It was wrong, it was childish and it played right into the hands of Trump who for a long time has said he has paid tax, the click bait TV show showed he did.  Stunts like this and the blue side in disarray is meaning that Trump is becoming even more of a Teflon don.

It is unreal that intelligent people are allowing trump to get the upper hand in nearly everything related to him. Trump is a pro wrestling ring master, and he is out smarting people his mental superior.

All Trump did was release a statement saying the usual, that it was illegal and terrible that his tax return was released. You could hear him cackling while he wrote it; I mean his spokesperson wrote it.

As sad as it is to say, Trump is winning.

As a finish to our trip to America I have a questions. When did the ‘greatest country in the world’ change the word opportunity to choice? Especially when it comes to healthcare. Choice assumes that you have enough money to make one; it doesn’t mean that everyone has the same choice. Whether it is discrimination, sexism, pay gaps or any kind of inequality, it is all about everyone (this is not just in America, for Ireland too) having the same OPPORTUNITY to succeed. At the moment and for a lot of my life time, not everyone has that opportunity.

I was hoping that a trip back to the homeland would help me feel a bit cleaner after being immersed in American politics, but it is just a sick here. We have a Taoiseach who is getting his last few air miles out of the Irish Government jet, we have partners in government not working together and we have local politicians more worried about photo ops than doing their job.

Enda Kenny is currently in America shaking hands and doing the annual Irish thing. He says he will mention the travel ban as it pertains to Irish people, but he won’t get more than a few minutes with El Prez. He is a photo op, and he doesn’t care because he is leaving office with his ministerial pension along with his teaching pension. Normally I would say good riddance, but when you look at the possible successors it leaves me more worried. Endas other business this week was to put forward a plans for a referendum to allow Irish citizens abroad to vote in elections for president and general elections.

This in itself doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that there was a march in Dublin City last week in relation to repealing the 8th amendment. No one has mentioned anything about Irish abroad and their voting rights, outside of the rich Irish people living abroad who came up with the idea while sitting around the brunch table in the country club. Most of the Irish abroad are more interested in paying their bills, living a life and providing for loved ones than who is President.

Another nonsense distraction tactic from a lame duck.

The last part of this week’s episode may have annoyed me the most.

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/minister-sought-good-pr-in-local-papers-after-rural-criticism-35524450.html

 

The minister for jobs (a role she has no business being in) Mary Mitchell O’Connor instructed her advisors to get as many pictures of her at the ploughing championships to as many news outlets as possible. This was due to her not getting on well in rural areas. So instead of going to these areas and instigating conversation with the people, getting in front of them at a meeting and having them air their problems and showing an ability to solve them. She wants pictures taken.

This is a minister who is paid real money. She is paid by the tax payer. And her big idea is to get pictures taken. This annoyed me more than click bait, than devious microwaves or lame ducks. This was the news that had me scratching my head.

With people like this in government s (all of the above mentioned), is it any wonder that 1 – Ireland has a drinking problem and 2-america has an obesity problem. These are both activities done to find comfort when life gets uncomfortable.

 

Until next time, feel free to share this with anyone mentioned above via social media and you can find me @nkeegan on twitter and @kdubdd on instagram.

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Ireland v Wales, England and Rugby Psychology

Week 4 of the 6 Nations in the books and a feeling of calm numbness washes over me.

This won’t be an in-depth blog about game plans, spacing and field position. There are people far more qualified for the jargon. This will be about psychology. The psychology of the match on Saturday was fantastic to watch for the neutral, not so much if you had a green jersey on.

Coming in, Ireland where on a high. A strong win against France while not getting out of 3rd gear left a lot in the tank, but replenished the reserves of confidence and belief. Wales on the other hand, collapsed like me after 12 Guinness (other stouts are available). They were up at halftime, well within themselves and looked to put Scotland to the sword. But it didn’t happen. The big players didn’t perform; Scotland consistently out fought and out worked them and deserved the victory. So both teams came in at opposite ends of the happiness scale.

Ireland started well, much like they finished against the French. Pressure led to an early penalty from Sexton and they looked to be off to the races. Then a knock to J10 and a cold Paddy Jackson came on, resulting in an error (he didn’t get a chance to warm up) and George North scored a try. The same George North who looked frightened of a tackle the week previous. He was back to his frightening JCB best. This lifted the Welsh. North is usually their talisman. If he is playing well, they will all play well and he put a marker down early. Especially when the game plan from Ireland was to kick the ball at him (not to him) at every available opportunity. The Welsh weathered an early storm from Ireland and came back with 5 points. Jackson kicked another penalty which came from more pressure while Sexton was still under HIA. At 28 minutes Sexton was back and the momentum shifted again towards the green side. But 10 minutes later he was binned for not rolling away. It was a tough call, while technically correct. I would suggest that If you had 3 17 stone men on top of you, you would struggle to get out from under them, but rules are rules.

Wales took advantage and scored unanswered points while Sexton was in the bin and Conor Murray suffered a stinger. He was kept on the field while being in obvious discomfort. His left arm was useless. He should have been taken off but it appeared that the coach didn’t trust Marmion to play without senior guidance.

The players saw this. The players felt this and they sank. Subconsciously everything that they had said in the media evaporated. The talk of squad depth disappeared. Marmion was well capable of playing, but instead they chose to keep Murray on the pitch. He was brave beyond measure. Hitting rucks with 1 arm, but he took 2 massive hits while being unable to defend himself. Player safety etc. etc.

Half time arrives and a reset was needed, the team knew it, the coaching staff knew it and every Ireland supporter knew it. Sexton had a few minutes left to serve in the bin so Murray was left on, with a stinger!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stinger_(medicine)    (please read this before continuing!)

Again, the players saw this. It sent a message. Even with a stinger, Marmion was left on the side-lines. Mentally that plays with a team. They know how good the backup is, he has performed consistently well for Connacht but he was left on the side-lines until Murray made the call, maybe it was the medical staff, but it was left too late. Wales where bossing the game.

The reset occurred with the substitutes. Healy, O’Mahony and Henderson came on over the space of 15 minutes and changed the game. Ireland came back. And should have gone in front if not for a midfielder charging into a maul. Again, not his fault, he was just trying to help, but rules are rules.

This dented Ireland’s confidence. They looked to believe that if they exerted pressure wales would crack. Wales where cracking but Ireland came away with nothing. The psychological shift yo-yo’d in that second half. If Ireland score 1 try from a malfunctioning lineout in the welsh 5 metre zone and the Rory best maul results in a try the entire game changes. The Irish lineout was easier to read than the Da Vinci code, just with an even more annoying ending. Bad throws? Not enough options or a mixture of the two.

The plays didn’t come off and a slight miscue from J10 while trying to exit the Ireland redzone resulted in a Jamie Roberts try that hurts the scoreboard.

Going back a couple of paragraphs. If Ireland scores 2 tries then the narrative is completely different. Ireland win, while still not playing well and you all think it is winning ugly and a positive thing. The likes of the great Tony Ward would not be asking for the changes he is asking for, but sport being sport, sometimes it goes against you. If you look at most player ratings in various sporting media, players didn’t play badly. The stats would back this up. But stats don’t win games, people do.

We should have strangled that Welsh team, the players on both teams felt that at the opening whistle. Wales where able to psychologically manage the game much better, take advantage of the mental state of the opposition and grew in confidence because of it and deserved the win.

Wales played well, Ireland played at 50%. That is what happened.

As for the backlash, a lot of people are turning into football pundits with the rash decisions and turning on the coach. Firstly, every single rugby playing team on this planet from under 8s to golden oldies would sell their grandmother to have Joe as a coach. He is brilliant. Anyone talking about Joe out is a fan and not a supporter. The best thing about a fan is that the IRFU get their money. The worst part is the post-match conversation.

The second being that Jamie Heaslip should be dropped for O’Mahony. While I agree O’Mahony should start, it should not be at the expense of one of the team’s top performers. Look at the work load. It is only Stander who compares when it comes to tackles, yards etc. This is reactionary nonsense to sell papers. Do not fall for the hype.

With that out of the way, we welcome the old enemy to Dublin. I would dare say they have never been as tough as they are now. It will be an absolute dog fight on Saturday. McFadden has been drafted in to replace Tommy Bowe. Again people losing their mind over this. But he has big match experience, knows the calls etc. and has performed at the highest level. Gilroy has not. I would have brought Adam Byrne in, which goes against my previous 40 words, but he is worthy of a shot. He is big enough, bold enough and brave enough to battle England.

This will be a dogfight. I would start O’Mahony in place of O’Brien, Payne instead of Kearney and Scannell instead of Best. Massive calls to make, not made with any disrespect and very easy from the couch, but if Ireland want to be in with a shot of winning, last weekend’s mistakes cannot happen again.

I will make a bet with everyone reading this. Paddy Jackson scores the final kick for an Ireland win by 3.

As usual, @nkeegan and @kdubdd on instagram for discussion.

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Ireland V Wales, Pride and Aggression

Now it gets exciting, 2 games left in the championship, an away trip to Cardiff and then the old enemy comes to Dublin.

As all people should, let’s take this 1 game at a time.

Ireland arrives in Cardiff with confidence. After a slow start and a loss against a decent Scotland team, Ireland have turned the screw from minute 41 in that match all the way through to the end of the French match. The thing I took from the last match against France was the ability to strangle the opposition. Not a huge amount of flashy rugby, but anytime a hole was spotted, Ireland went through it. It was the rugby equivalent of a Boa constrictor slowly killing a deer. I am not sure if I have my species right there, but you get my point. It was another facet to the game plan for Ireland which will serve well against Wales.

Wales on the other hand are having a rollercoaster championship.  Starting with a fairly easy win against Italy, after being held for a long time. They then should have beaten England, that was their massive moment of the year so far. They were massive and stepped up hugely against a bully England team. The English where rattled for the first time in a year at that stage and it was all down to Wales being more up for the fight. It was great to see, but I think losing that match in the last minutes has affected the Welsh. They then moved to Edinburgh to take on a semi-resurgent Scottish side. Wales started well, started strong and looked to be rolling forward to a win. And then they collapsed quicker than me trying to run more than 3 miles. It looked as if they felt it was over and they could just coast through for the win. The plays they set up didn’t come off, they missed many tackles and Scotland remained Scotland. They deserved their win and put another nail into Wales.

So will Wales rebound? Will that Welsh pride make an appearance? They are looking around the changing room at players who haven’t performed; players who backed each other have not been doing that. The plays they want to use during a game aren’t coming off. Pride won’t win this game.

Look, let’s be honest. Ireland should strangle this team. If you compare the teams, the 2nd row and back row are as close to even as can be. The front row is all Ireland. The midfield would be leaning towards Ireland based on form, this is a game made for Ringrose to work off the bulldozing Henshaw. The back 3 would cancel each other out too, but Wales do not have a Zebo. Someone who can make a bit of magic. I know George North is playing, but he is off the pace and a few games away from being his best. And remember, he is coming off numerous concussions. It must be getting to him at this stage, he knows he is susceptible.

The Irish bench is slightly stronger too. Most of the players in the match day squad have seen game time. At 55 minutes there is a chance we can see Healy, O’Mahony and Henderson make appearances, which is the aggression Ireland will need to close out the game.

I think confidence is what wins this game. A big, aggressive and violent start from Ireland and the Welsh adrenaline will disappear, the crowd will turn on their team and the Irish anaconda (my ironic stripper name) will strangle the Welsh to a 7 point win. It will not be easy, but the green machine will roll home with a Welsh scalp and a parking space for the chariot.

@nkeegan on twitter and @kdubdd on instagram for more

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America from the outside, Ireland from the inside – Episode 2

Welcome to episode 2 of ‘America from the outside, Ireland from the inside’. I call them episodes because there is more scandal and nonsensical behavior from people than an episode of Coronation Street.

Starting off on the other side of the ocean, in America this week, the president has accused a former president of tapping his phones during the election of last year, he has signed a brand new executive order making it difficult for certain people to enter the country and he has commented on Arnold Schwarzenegger being fired from the apprentice.

Starting with the first issue. El Prez began tweeting on Saturday about his phones being tapped. He didn’t offer any proof, he didn’t have anyone to blame, it was just something to say on a Saturday morning. His spokespeople then came out and said that they believed it too. When asked for proof, they would reply with the fact that the president has more information than the rest of us. This information has yet to hit the twitter-verse or the real world. I currently have a €10 bet with Trump that an investigation does not take place. The offer of the bet took place on twitter so you know he read it!

By the way @nkeegan is where you can find me.

In relation to social media, I think the reasoning behind him using it is sound. It is a direct line to the people. It is a platform to make sure the message is sent out the exact way you want it to. It would be a great tool for a rational thinking president. Unfortunately it appears that he isn’t the former while being the latter. But this is a 70+year old man. They rarely are.

The second piece of action from President Trump this week, which follows on from an executive order decreed in January 2017. This was an order suspending entry into the country for 90 days for people from Iran, Iraq, Libia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. This was released to the media as If it was a press release that they didn’t want people to read. It was put out on a Friday evening. Which is what slimy publicists do when their clients are caught doing something they shouldn’t. They assume people won’t bother with it after office hours before a weekend. So Airports around the world had zero idea of who they should vet why they should vet them and how. Not to mention the fact that the Trump administration had put an ally on the list, while leaving out the country that supplied most of the people involved in 9/11 (Saudi Arabia). But let’s not be rational about this. This was questioned and held up by judges which caused another twitter storm from President Trump.

The Donald had to come up with a new plan.

2 months later, on my birthday (6th March, one for the diaries) a new order is unleashed. The difference? Well Iraq is off the list. It remains in the introduction of the order on the white house wbsite(https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/06/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states), but is taken out of the remainder.  As an aside, if my attention to detail was this bad, I would be fired. And I definitely do not work for a president.

This updated order begins on St Patrick’s weekend and does not affect anyone with a visa before that point. So what is this? Basically it is targeting a certain group of people without actually saying it out loud. They call it ‘extreme vetting’, but that is like ‘enhanced interrogation’. It is another title for the same thing. Enhanced interrogation was torture, extreme vetting is religious targeting. I thought there was something written in a fairly important American document about freedom of religion? Instead of inclusion, President Trump wants to exclude. Instead of attempting to understand, he prefers to stay on a high horse.

But again, he is 70+ years old, what do you expect?

His final top hit of twitter this week reeked of childishness. His old show, The Apprentice, sacked Arnold Schwarzenegger this week due to bad ratings. It had nothing to do with it being an old show with an outdated format of course. He took to twitter to stick the needle into Arnold. Such childishness and pettiness wouldn’t be out of place in a teenagers twitter account but this is the president. Surely there is something more important for him to do?

But again, he is a 70+year old, what do you expect?

A quick 7 hour plane journey brings us back to Ireland where there is only one story. The discovery of 800 children remains in a tank in Tuam, County Galway on the grounds of a Mother and baby home run by a Catholic order of nuns (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon_Secours_Mother_and_Baby_Home). The nation was outraged and it showed how in 2017 a country is still afraid of the church. This has been talked about since the 1920’s but no one prosecuted or investigated up until very recently.  In 1975 child’s remains were found on the site, nothing happened.  In 2012 Catherine Corless surmised that there were hundreds buried on the site. She was lambasted in all quarters of the media. Vilified. This was in 2012! People were still that afraid. That was just after our then Taoiseach Bertie Aherne signed an agreement with the church that the state would cover half of any pay-outs made as a result of child sex abuse. This is the country we live in! Horrific!

The only positive of this is that in 2017 there is social media; there are ways of pressuring government into investigations. We see it with the Garda corruptions and now with the other and baby homes run by the church.

My thoughts on religion are that it is yours. If it gives you comfort and strength when you need it, if it helps you in any way then it is a good thing. If you blindly follow it and are willing to look past things like the above or the rampant and horrific child sex abuse that was/is happening in the church then religion has ruined you as a human being. I am not anti religion; I am anti burying children in a pit or abusing people in any kind of way.

In closing, this story has me absolutely heartbroken. I can’t believe that a human being came up with burying children in a tank as a way of dealing with an issue; I can’t believe someone actually carried out those orders and I can’t believe we live in a country where government is too scared to chase and prosecute the scum who did this.

As usual @nkeegan on twitter and @kdubdd on instagram.

And let’s be a little bit nicer to each other this week, let’s just try it.

 

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America from the outside, Ireland from the inside – part 1

Welcome to episode 1 of ‘America from the outside, Ireland from the inside’. This first post will be an introduction of what the aims are of the series, views from my computer screen and an ability to contact me for further discussion and challenging of opinions.

Situated on Dublin’s Southside, I am looking at the world through various computer screens that frighten me, and this will be where I write down what I usually end up shouting at the screens that are ruining my life.

Firstly why America? Well it is fairly simple. I grew up wanting to go to America and be American. They had the best food, the best sport, the best TV, they got the films 6 months before us and everyone was so happy. Whereas here in Ireland everyone was always milliseconds from getting annoyed, in America they said ‘have a nice day’ just for buying chewing gum in the shop.

But I was also very young in a relatively safe world. During the cold war (I arrived towards the end of it) no one was going to pull the trigger, self-preservation meant that status quo (while angry) remained. There was no Vietnam War like my parents had, or WW2 like my grandparents had. This may have been the America I wanted to live in. Along with that, I had zero interaction with anything political. That is the key.

In my lifetime I have seen 2 bushes, a Clinton and Obama and now a Trump. I don’t remember a thing about Bush sr. Clinton appeared to take care of business in his office, while making some mistakes along the way. Not diminishing these mistakes, but they were none of my business. Private life is private. This was the first time politics entered my life from America. I wondered why older men were interested in the private life of a younger man. Was it criminal jealousy on their part? Was it because no one wanted to travel south of their equator? Or was it to score points?

Through the next line of presidents the country began being strangled. Laws were brought in to tap phones, to screen passengers (mostly of a certain colour let’s be honest) and to invade the private lives of Americans. People reacted with ‘I have nothing to hide so I don’t care if they listen to my calls’. This is like saying I don’t care about free speech because I have nothing to say. Reactions became simply yes or no. Nuance disappeared. The eye for an eye mentality that came from western films was now a legitimate reaction.

The world changed. The economies crashed, the Kardsashians and obesity arrived and we fast forward further to 2017. An America with a reality TV star and business ‘mogul’ as president. The people got so annoyed with the system that the change they chose was someone who made money by licensing his image to buildings, fighting legal action and showing an inability to live in the real world.

In America, you are either left or right even though both main parties are now so similar you would struggle to find a difference. You pick your side and you are there forever. That is not healthy. Sometimes the more conservative approach works and sometimes a more liberal way works it depends on the issue at hand. It is never one or the other.

America is the epicentre of the social justice warrior movement. A group who chase offence with self-importance and who appear to have an inability to stand on their own beliefs and challenge those who disagree, Ireland has this too (https://www.facebook.com/peopleb4profit/ there is a video from 3 Trinity College students getting someone they disagree with banned from the college). Instead they depend on violence to stop people expressing themselves, sounds familiar from the history books doesn’t it? Recently an unedited video surfaced from a lecture where an SJW did not believe in biology or scientific proof of gender. This is a problem. It is equal parts frightening and comedic. The police treat kids in bikinis like they are smuggling bombs and celebrities  are treated like leaders in debate. Meryl Streep gets up and talks about understanding and tolerance, while wearing a 20 grand dress in front of other actors who haven’t been stuck on a train at rush hour in a long time. The gap between the ‘them’ and ‘us’ has never been bigger and that leads to their current presidential predicament.

It may appear that I am on my high horse, but there is a saying. ‘People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’. In Ireland there is an insane political system populated by careerists. But we also have a population that continues to vote the same people in. We have a ‘you scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours’ way of business which leads to the Healy Rae family getting up and talking about the war on flowers in a public park. Never mind the homeless people, they don’t vote! The pensioners who walk in the park will vote for me if I get the park cleared.

This is where we live. This is how our island works. Our police force have been accused on multiple occasions of smearing innocent people with varying crimes, because they reported wrong doings by the force. If I get accused of anything at work that needs an investigation, I would be sent home pending the outcome. In Ireland, in the Garda Siochana, the commissioner is allowed stay in place. It is insane. Either she has something on the people in government or they know we will forget about this if they spring another story. We have horrific stories coming out about abuse against children under state care since the smearing thing came out and it is slowly disappearing from the headlines.

I think that bring the introduction to an end. Basically I am a frustrated man struggling to make sense of people who use important constructs of the world for their own gains while promising to look out for those less well off.  For any American readers, there is no malice intended and  I expect debate and abuse on my observations from thousands of miles away, but I am always open to enlightenment and correction from all.

For my Irish readers, I think we need a beer!

This will be weekly observations on a world filled with beautiful people, run by people who couldn’t run a bath.

 

@nkeegan on twitter and @kdubdd on instagram

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Week 3: The good, the bad and the hilarious in the 6 Nations.

Week 3 of the 6 Nations may be the greatest one in my memory. There was absolutely everything. Nail biting moments, head scratching moments and moments of joy. It was the sporting equivalent of my wedding night.

We started with Scotland taking on Wales in Edinburgh. The former started slowly (did an Ireland) and Wales started solidly but not too spectacularly.  But with every missed opportunity and / or bad choice in kicking for the lineout instead of taking the points, they wilted. The confidence that team had years ago appears to be delicate. A Scotland team without Laidlaw and without a few other players won easily. A very unexpected start to the weekend. Going into the French match, Ireland would have zero fear of that Welsh team.

France where welcomed to the Aviva stadium. Well it was a ¾ full Aviva stadium because everyone remained at the bar instead of singing the anthems and settling into their seats.

As an aside, nothing annoys me more than people trying to squeeze into their seat when the anthems have started. If you aren’t bothered to get into your seat for the start of the game, then you wait until there is a lull in the game. It must be great having all that money to spend on tickets to a game you aren’t bothered with, but the rest of us aren’t in a position to waste the cash.

Anyway, back to the match. France started strong. They had been improving throughout this tournament   and they started with a bang. Ireland started a bit slowly, not badly like against Scotland, just slower. The first 15 minutes involved tougher collisions than you would see on a 4 car pile-up on the m50. Some massive hits. And then it started to change, Ireland plugged in and almost as one, turned the screw. It may have been the knock on costing the French a try but Ireland almost said ‘well, that was the best you had; now it’s our turn’. What came for the rest of the match was control, aggression, a playmaking pair who are on a different level to almost any other 9 and 10 in the sport and a rugby version of a triangle choke in MMA. Ireland strangled a France who have very little ideas but the shoots of a team that will cause damage in the next few years. Every stat was in Ireland’s favour, the main issue being, that there were more points to be taken in that match. A 10 point win against France would have been taken by all before the match. But once the second half started, I thought Ireland could get close to a bonus point.

It keeps Ireland in the competition, Wales and England wait when it gets to the big weekends.

Then came the delightful head scratcher that was England taking on Italy. Everyone thought it would be a landslide, an embarrassment for Italy. And then the game started. Italy decided to tackle and back away, tackle and back away. Everyone viewing reached for their smart phones and logged on to the IRB site to find the rulebook. Don’t lie! I know you all did the same as me! Then we saw it, they were avoiding the ruck to stop an offside line being formed. It was within the laws and was genius from Conor O’Shea. The meatheads from England where unravelling in the first half. They had no idea what to do to counter act this. Complaining to the ref along with a quick explanation of the rules from Poite meant very little. The first half showed an Italian side with pride and an English bully side on the receiving end of a mental master class.

The only thing that got England through the game was the regular Italian fatigue. They got the bonus point but the chink in the champions armour has been established. Like Tyson being knocked out by Buster Douglas in Tokyo, England are now human. Not to be feared. They take on a Scotland side on a high and looking to take another scalp.

The one thing that Ireland and Scotland have in common is that nothing motivates more than scrapping with the old enemy.

Ireland get on the ferry (or first class on the plane) to Cardiff on a Friday. This is after a week off which is massively beneficial after a bruising French match.  The confidence is back in the green machine. Whereas Wales are in the opposite. They have nothing to lose and that Welsh pride may appear, but if Ireland can put the pressure on, start well and maybe bring in O’Mahony for O’Brien Ireland will put Wales away.

But more on that closer to the time. As usual, @nkeegan on twitter and @kdubdd on the instagram. I am not sure what instagram is, but I am on it anyway.

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Jackson or Sexton, Sexton or Jackson and other 6 Nations thoughts

In the words of the flight of the conchords, it’s business time!

The 6 Nations moves into the important minutes this weekend as week 3 of the competition kicks off. Scotland take on Wales and Ireland welcome the French to the Aviva and on Sunday England take on a battered and already beaten Italy.

For Ireland the call is Sexton or Jackson, Jackson or Sexton. Start with Jackson and bring on Sexton or start with Sexton and (assuming he gets injured) bring on Jackson. Some pundits think that when fit, Sexton starts and some think that Jackson has proven himself in the time sexton has been injured. Some also say that if Carbery didn’t get injured he would be the understudy for Sexton.

But let’s look at the 1 and 2 in the 10 shirt as it stands.

Jackson has recovered from being treated horribly by Declan Kidney way back in 2013. Kidney was feeling the pressure and threw Jackson into the team as a starter. It was maybe 12 months too early for Jackson and it put him back a couple of years in terms of his development. But now he has worked himself back into being a proper team general, a boss and has the confidence to be the playmaker. It was hard for him against Scotland. He had very little to work with due to an underperforming pack. The second half showed him come into the game more and scored a classy try where he backed himself. It was great to see. The team celebrating with him showed that they wanted it for him too, which is important.

Now onto the great Jonathan Sexton. The best 10 of the modern era? Maybe I cannot say that until the career is finished, but I haven’t quite put my blue jersey away yet. Sexton is more than a player. He has the ability to drag his team forward, to out think the opposition and to put himself on the line for his team and the jersey. The last one is a quality that every other player you will see on the pitch on Saturday will have so let’s look at the other two.  Sexton has on many occasions brought his team through a game. Going back to the Northampton Heineken cup final and it was Sexton who started the comeback and who took the half time team talk. He has been doing this as a regular thing since his big match debut against Munster in Croke Park. What I am saying is that there is a history there of Sexton bringing a team back from the brink.

Now on to out thinking the opposition. Both Sexton and Jackson have been good in this area over the last few seasons. Sexton and Leinster maybe depended on the loop pass and following the ball for too long, but that play has been updated and will be seen on Saturday if he starts.

So for me, the only real difference here is a history of performing at the top level in every jersey. Sexton leads that by quite a bit. Ulster are like Clermont, in that they are a semi-final team. Any time they are in a position to make final, they have struggled. Is that because Jackson was unable to out think the opposition? Or to bring his team forward into the game? Sexton has done this numerous times. Jackson has not had the opportunity to prove he has done this; yes he has played well in the green jersey, but not in a massive game. Carbery was called in as backup for Sexton in November which shows you where he is in the coach’s thoughts. Madigan has been out of inclusion since 2013, but that is another story for another blog.

Using history, Sexton is a nose ahead. Using form is impossible as Sexton hasn’t played. He has been injured. Whilst on the pitch he has been a different class to every other player he faces. He has shown an ability to hit the ground running after injury better than nearly any player ever injured in any sport. Jackson however has been there, week in week out and performing. He is one of the only shining lights this season for Ulster and he has been consistent and a game manager in green. So in form, Jackson is a nose ahead.

We are at a 1-1 so far.

So now. What about the team? If you were in the squad and you had developed a playing connection and a trust in your 10 over time and they switched it for the king of the jersey, how would you feel? Would you welcome the tried and trusted back into the fold? Or would you want to have the backup built up to the same level? Does it not put a bad message out to the team where form isn’t important, it is all about who did it best over a certain time period?

For me, I would start Jackson. I would put the message out there that no player is bigger than the jersey. I would trust the player who has played the position. I may be the only person on the island saying this but I think the team is more important than the player. For the French game, I think it sends a fantastic message if he starts Jackson. It is not out of charity; Jackson deserves the start through his play over the last while.

Imagine Sexton coming on with Healy and O’Mahony at 50 minutes to close out the game and win it?

Joe will pick Sexton; Ireland will win by a score and will march to Cardiff with a whiff of a championship in their nostrils.

Until next time, @nkeegan on twitter and @kdubdd on the instagram

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