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Q&A with Paddy O’Sullivan

17 September 2014

Today we kick off our Q&A sessions with Skerries RFC alumni all over the globe as part of our renewed commitment this season to stay in touch with Skerries fans and former players.

First up in what will become a regular feature each month is Paddy O’Sullivan, the fleet footed younger brother of David and Derek O’Sullivan, who started club life with John Connolly’s much vaunted U9s and grew up to skip past Christian Cullen.

Where are you living now, Paddy?
Brisbane. I’ve been here over 7 years now. I’m a dual citizen and have just bought a house so no plans to don a Skerries 3rd A’s jersey just yet.

How long did you play for Skerries and what level (s)?
I made my debut for the Skerries U9’s at 7 years of age, I think it was against Balbriggan. I remember tripping over a bike as we watched them get off the bus, I was giving them my “Psych out stare”, much to every ones amusement it didn’t work and never did!

I played all the way up to the 1sts. I had one season with the 1sts under Gerry Carron. I think it was the 2000-2001, a tough season, a transitional time for Skerries with a lot of the big guns of the late 90s first team retiring and that promising U20’s starting to take the reins. I have a few regrets about that season – I was pretty lazy and would love to do it all again.

Highlight of your playing career?
Playing against Munster in Thomand Park, I was brought on with about 20 minutes to go, when the guy I was replacing, Darren Yapp said to me “I’m not ready to go off yet”, “But I’m already here!!!” I replied. “Give me 5 minutes” he said. By that stage I had ran from the half way line well into our 22, so I decided to hang with the coach Michael Bradley behind the goal line for the 5 minutes. I turned to him and said, “Well, that was embarrassing”. There were sounds emanating from his walkie talkie, he turned to me and said “They can’t restart the match until you get back in the dugout, GO!!!” I had to run all the way back to the half way line, while the cameras followed, and the Munster hooker Jerry Flannery shouted some choice words of “encouragement” to hurry me along. I eventually got on, had a nightmare, and practically helped Christian Cullen over the line for his first try for Munster. Great experience all the same or so I’m told.

What was your favourite match?
That’s a toughie, and would change every time I’d think about it, but right now the one that comes to mind would be our Leinster schools senior cup semi-final match against St Columba’s College. They were heavy favourites and we beat them in the dying minutes with a difficult Marc Hewitt conversion after I touched down an inch short of the dead ball line. I’ll never forget our innocence when the final whistle blew, we were not really sure what to do as we never expected to win.

Best player you played with?
As much as it pains me to say it, I did enjoy playing with Chris Keane in our Buccaneers days, he knew my strengths and was always keen to make the Skerries lads look good i.e. at the base of a ruck he’d whisper to me to go blind. He’d inevitably go open side and make a nice break for himself, because that’s the sort of bloke he is!

Best player you played against?
Christian Cullen, he wasn’t at his best when I played against him, but I don’t think there has been a full back as good as him since.

Your favourite current player for Skerries?
Ronan Connolly, has he retired yet? If he has, get him back. The last time I was talking to him, he said and I quote: “I’ve got a good 5 years left at the top.”

How do you stay in touch with how Skerries? Friends, family, Facebook or Twitter?
The family phone calls mainly, I keep abreast of the clubs activities from Twitter.

Did you get a chance to play with either of your brothers for the firsts?
I played about 10 minutes when I was 18 with Davey against Trinity, he had the ball at one stage and had the opportunity to put me into a gap, I was dreaming about running the field, dotting down under the posts, high five’s all round. But he didn’t pass me the ball and got smashed so peaks and troughs!

Davey, Derek and I played a match together once against Napier Marist, back in ’05 or ’06. Remarkably, none of us got injured, not even Derek. It was a thoroughly enjoyably day, we all dotted down for a try which was nice, I did twice, if you’re asking!!

Funniest moment playing for Skerries?
My girlfriend, Lara, loves this story. I personally hate it…

Match at home on the seconds pitch versus Greystones U16’s, a load of frustrated teenagers running around in the muck. A ball was passed out the Greystones back line, and there was a knock on. As the whistle goes I pushed one of the Greystones lads in the back as I passed him, he duly threw a hay maker to the side of my head making my ear distorted looking to this day. I turned to throw a few handbags of my own, only to see referee Joe Keogh making his way over and I thought ok, here we go, justice will be done here, red card maybe? But I also noticed Joe staring at the ground while running. I screamed “ref!!” in a pre-pubescent high pitched wail.

He said “What?”, “Did you not see that!?”, “what!?” he retorted. At this point I’m flabbergasted that he didn’t see it, and have realised that all is lost, not only has he gotten away with the refs punishment, but I also have lost out on my chance for my own version of payback. “HE HIT ME!!!!” at this point both sets of forwards and some backs are within ear shot setting up for the resultant scrum. “HE HIT ME” in a mocking tone was shouted back at me, from both sides, probably 20 lads laughing and joking in unison much to the amusement of Mr Keogh. I even recall one Andrew McGuinness rubbing his eyes like a new born in his theatrical version of my discussion of the ref, thanks Guinty!! I was furious, but there was nothing I could do. Amazingly I played against that guy two more times and he never touched the ball against Skerries again, much to my dismay.

Thanks Paddy for sharing those superb memories. You are always welcome back at Holmpatrick should you fancy a cheeky run out to impress Lara. Stay tuned folks for the next installment coming up soon.