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The 'Sean O'Brien For Ireland Captain' Hype Train Is Picking Up Serious Momentum

The 'Sean O'Brien For Ireland Captain' Hype Train Is Picking Up Serious Momentum
By Donny Mahoney
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Since everyone who played rugby for Ireland or writes about it for a living seems convinced that Jamie Heaslip is a terrible choice for Ireland captain, the rugby punditocracy have been making the case for various other worthy contenders this week.

This case for Rory Best's captaincy, as made by Peter O'Reilly amongst other, is as follows: a safe pair of hands, a reliable leader, an elder statesmen in the dressing room.


But there is a far more intriguing if agricultural challenger and as the week has progressed, this man's credentials have been flouted by a growing number of influencers in the media. He comes from Tullow. He farms for a living. His name is Sean O'Brien.

On Monday's Racket podcast, I made the case for O'Brien as a sort of jokey, 'craic' candidate. Surprisingly, in yesterday's Irish Times, Gerry Thornley followed the lead made a pretty convincing rugby argument for how O'Brien could be a sort of proto-McCaw if he became captain.

In the absence of a Munster dog of war, with his barnstorming carries, tackles and poaches, O’Brien appears the likeliest to fulfil the role of a leader for whom the dictum ‘do as I do’ readily applies.

Now in today's Examiner, Donal Lenihan has joined the queue to fete Seanie. Reminding readers that O'Brien captained Ireland versus Scotland this summer, Lenihan says that Ireland need a "strong, resilient character at the helm".

I would opt, without hesitation, for Sean O’Brien. He is an inspirational figure and despite having little game time recently, displayed enough in Leinster’s win over Munster to suggest he is back to his best.

He backed that up with a crucial contribution, off the bench, against Connacht at the RDS.

Interviewed as man of the match immediately after that harrowing defeat to New Zealand in 2013, O’Brien was not seeking comfort in any false platitudes.

He immediately focused on the key mistakes Ireland made in attempting to close out that game and the areas that required improvement in order to beat the very best.

He is a leader and a driver of standards.

Whatever about the most worthy candidate, O'Brien would definitely be the most exciting appointment. SOB has attained folk hero status amongst Ireland fans and perhaps his appointment as Ireland captain would lift the gloom around Irish rugby.


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