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Two rugby matches, two ferries

Sport

Nobody said it would be easy!


Rob Murphy


THE travel itinerary for work covering Connacht away games is usually fairly mundane and predictable – flights, buses, the odd car rental, etc. Last weekend was different. The away trip to Cardiff on Friday was more in the ‘road trip’ category as I took the car to Wales.
A work commitment in Enniscorthy for KnockOn.ie on the Saturday meant the only way I could take in both that and the game in the Arms Park on the Friday was to catch the Rosslare-Fishguard ferry. So a 4am start on the Friday from Galway, a stop for food and work in west Wales and on to Cardiff for 5.30pm with plenty of time to spare for kick-off.
The game itself was eventful with a frantic finish. Connacht had seemingly won it with a dramatic late try from Aly Muldowney, but contrived to kick away possession with 90 seconds remaining. This set up a marathon finish of 68 phases, including four penalties and a try nine minutes over the 80-minute mark.
During that dramatic conclusion, two of the four penalties were highly debatable on first view, and subsequently proven flat out wrong during what must be described as the most unusual Connacht rugby press conference in a long time.
A clearly outraged Pat Lam arrived to the media room, laptop in hand, with the screen paused on an incident from the 84th minute. The head coach took the journalists through the incident, which clearly included a Cardiff knock on and a perfectly legitimate Connacht turnover that would have ended the game.
The touch judge who made the baffling call about that turnover was Leighton Hodges, and things got extremely unusual when the head coach went on to highlight a previous incident involving the Welsh official at the Sportsground last January. The allegation Lam made was that in reaction to a parking dispute, Hodges had suggested: “That’s going to cost your team seven points”.
The audio is worth seeking out, by the time that was over, I had to pack up and hop in the car for the two-hour return journey to Fishguard and a 2.30am ferry back to Rosslare.
At 7am on Saturday, I arrived in a Wexford hotel, still trying to find my land legs after a journey that had plenty of ups and downs – the captain was in no mood for hanging around as the waves battered the Stena Line ship. After breakfast, I posted the audio expecting a few hundred listens and a Twitter storm. By nightfall it had gone viral and got 10,000 hits.
And the story took another twist yesterday (Monday) whem Lam was charged with misconduct. Watch this space.

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