We’ve just wrapped a round of interviews at Tullow RFC and two Leinster lads – Rob Kearney and Sean O’Brien – join us for a spot of lunch. Having spotted that Kearney was at the All-Ireland football final, I ask who he went with.
Kearney: What was that?
SportsJOE: Who did you go with? A few mates, or family?
Kearney: Joe Biden.
SportsJOE: Joe… Biden?
Kearney: Joe Biden.
The former Vice President of the United States is a second cousin of the Leinster and Ireland star and was over in Ireland earlier this month. He even got his hands on a Mayo jersey before heading along to watch them take on Dublin in the final:
I love County Mayo and I love Joe Biden so this photo of Joe Biden being presented with a Mayo GAA jersey is perfect. pic.twitter.com/fh2ZA2P0pm
— Sarah (@sarahbethmoon) September 13, 2017
Kearney played football for the Louth Minors and could have been an inter-county star had he not proved so damn handy at rugby. Having started the Guinness PRO14 season in decent nick, the fullback tweaked his hamstring in a home win over Cardiff.
His provisional return date is early November but, having had recent hamstring issues, Kearney is not circling any dates on the calendar just yet. It’s a good thing, then, that he had Dublin’s nerve-shredding win over Mayo to pick up his spirits. He says:
“Best game of football I’ve ever been at.
“I loved it; thought it was class. I’ve watched a lot of games of football over the years, and played a huge amount of it coming up through my childhood. It just had everything and it’s hard not to feel a bit of heartbreak for Mayo.”
Kearney has come across several of the players from both counties in recent years and while he has seen more of the Dublin footballers – due to their proximity – he can certainly empathise with the Mayo lads. He adds:
“I’ve nothing but a huge amount of respect for all of them, from both teams. You look at how hard they train, what they give to the game. They’re still amateurs and have their own jobs away from it. It’s truly incredible and I think, sometimes in this country, we don’t give them enough credit than they deserve.
“You would have sold out another 300,000 tickets there, at the weekend, to watch an amateur game. It’s incredible.”
The 31-year-old had the honour of playing 12 Test matches at Croke Park, for Ireland. One suspects he would have loved to play one more, as a GAA player, when he was taking in that superb final on Sunday.