Here's Johnny.....

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True Red
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Here's Johnny.....

Post by True Red » Fri Mar 24, 2006 2:06 pm

Pilkington trying hard as Birr's rugby convert

JOHNNY PILKINGTON is unlikely to play for Offaly in their crucial Church & General NHL clash with Clare on Sunday week he is in the middle of a rugby odyssey with his native Birr.
The star midfielder was excused from county duties on Sunday last, when Offaly beat Antrim, as he lined out at scrum-half for Birr in the quarter-final of the Leinster Towns Cup.

And his return to inter-county hurling following Birr's All-Ireland club hurling final victory has been prolonged by the rugby side's shock 10-6 victory over hot favourites Mullingar.

Pilkington made it possible by scoring the decisive second-half try.

``We are a Division Three team in the Leinster junior league, and Mullingar are Division One, so it was great to beat them, almost as good as winning the club hurling All-Ireland with Birr,'' said Pilkington.

``I haven't been talking to Offaly manager Babs Keating yet but I expect to be playing for Birr against Naas in the semi-final of the Towns Cup on Sunday week. I hope he will let me off for it.''

CLOSING STAGES

Offaly have a chance of making the closing stages of the National League, and their cause would be helped immeasurably if they could get the better of All-Ireland champions Clare.

Clare are currently on four points, and Offaly would draw level if they were able to win the clash in Ennis.

In his absence, the Offaly midfield pairing of Hubert Rigney and Noel Murphy did well.

Pilkington's immediate thoughts are with the oval ball. ``We're not the best rugby players in the world,'' he said.

``We have never got to this stage of the Leinster Towns Cup before, and we probably won't win it either, but it's mighty to get this far.

``Fellows like John Lyons, John McNamara, Tom Kelly, Darragh Purcell, and Dave Grant have been playing rugby for Birr for about 20 years, and they have never won anything.

``John Lyons said afterwards that he had never even played at a neutral venue before he will put that right on Sunday week because the Naas match will take place at a neutral venue.

``Only the semi-finals and final are played at a neutral venue.

``Rugby has become all about money, but it's not that way with our team.

``I'm still waiting for the famous brown envelope, even one with nothing in it, just to get the brown envelope! This is the first year the lads have got even a free pair of socks out of rugby, and I'm delighted for them that they are getting this run. They deserve it.

``Some of the teams we play are very serious, they have New Zealanders playing for them, but our approach is different.

``Our big match build-up involves running around the field on Tuesday night for a while, a bit of ballwork on Friday, followed by a visit to the pub.

``We didn't change that routine last week it would be wrong to do so.

``You should never change your approach. Fellows mightn't cope.

``I played quite a bit of rugby until hurling took over when I was about 18. I have been turning out for Birr regularly for the last two years. Mullingar might have taken us for granted on Sunday and they paid the price.''

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