Retired legends get fitting send off by OLSC…
September 13, 2010 12:00 am client
Over 1,500 supporters packed in to the Clyde Room in the RDS last Saturday to say thanks and farewell to recently retired players Girvan Dempsey, Bernard Jackman and Malcolm O’Kelly…
While he said he found it difficult to be in the RDS but not to be taking part for the first time, Girvan spoke about the growth in the Leinster support base and the difference it makes to see so many supporters wearing the blue jersey on match day.
Sporting a brand new season ticket scarf, Malcolm spoke about how far the set up has moved in terms of facilities since the start of his career with Leinster. He said the RDS was a great boon to the team with all that it has to offer.
Bernard Jackman said that they had been privileged to have been professional sportsmen but that he was trying to keep busy to move on and get a new life started. All the players admitted to enjoying a less strict diet regime with Bernard admitting that he had never been “great with the old diet” in the first place.
When asked if there was anything they were missed about their time with Leinster, Girvan said while he missed the banter of hanging around with his teammates he felt that he would miss the lead into big matches the most.
“Looking ahead to the game coming up in the Aviva against Munster I think it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”
Malcolm referred to the first time Leinster took the decision to move a match from Donnybrook to Lansdowne Road, explaining that the opinion of the senior players had been canvassed.
“We worried about losing the Donnybrook factor but the opportunity that it turned out to be it was such a great move. Even as players we worried about the fact that there would be empty seats but it turned out to be such a brave move by the management at the time as people came from all over and things have just gone up and up from there.”
Picking out a favourite memory, Girvan picked out the quarter-final match against Harlequins in The Stoop.
“I was on the bench and when I was warming up to see the amount of Leinster supporters who were over there and how vocal they all were was amazing. Everyone really got behind the team that day and it was a tough day that we had to dog out but without the 16th man it would have been very difficult. The support we had that day was phenomenal.”
When asked about teammates that they had enjoyed being around, Bernard said that he missed Stan Wright as they got on well as front row partners as well as ‘paling up’ in training. He said that he knows Stan will come back stronger from injury and be a great support to the team in the meantime.
Girvan also made a special mention of his close friend Keith Gleeson who missed out on the Heineken Cup win, having retired the season beforehand, as he knew how much it would have meant to him.
Closing the evening, Jarrod Bromley, President of the OLSC, presented the three players with life memberships of the Club and their legend series T-shirt, ‘Girve the Swerve, ‘Big Mal’, and ‘Jackman!’
Bernard Jackman however, had the last word for supporters. “Just on behalf of the three lads I’d like to thank you for tonight. We are all deeply touched by it and also for all the good times over the last few years and I’m sure Leinster will have plenty more.”