DONNCHA O’Callaghan’s mother admitted to praying all week that her son would be named in the Lions squad.
Yesterday, Marie O’Callaghan’s prayers were answered, adding the possibility of another sporting triumph in a year which has already seen a roller coaster ride on the back of a Grand Slam and Munster inching every closer to back-to-back Heineken Cups.
Marie said Donncha’s late father, Hugh, who died 24 years ago, “would be very proud” of the latest accolade.
“I had all the televisions on and the radio listening for the squad to be called out. Friends of mine came to the house to listen with me.
“When his name came up I jumped around the room for a while,” she said. “I’m so proud of Donncha. It’s great and it’s well-earned for he does an awful lot of hard work. He’s a credit to himself.”
Neighbours and friends were calling all day yesterday to her home in Bishopstown, Cork, to offer their congratulations.
Marie rarely misses her son’s matches and was in Cardiff when Ireland won the Grand Slam.
She intends to travel to South Africa with fingers crossed that the 14-man Irish contingent can pull off a famous win.
“It really has been a great few days. Last Sunday my granddaughter, Aishling O’Callaghan, who is 10 and lives in Blarney, won an All-Ireland in gymnastics,” she said.
Seanie O’Leary, father of scrum-half Tomás, heard the news on the car radio.
“I wouldn’t say I was confident. I was more hopeful than anything else. I was really delighted when it came.”
The hurling legend from Cork, who won three-in-a-row All Ireland medals from 1976-1978, said he spoke to Tomás briefly after the announcement.
“He was delighted. He was naturally very happy and he regards it as a great honour,” Seanie said.
Tomás’s outhalf partner Ronan O’Gara will also, as expected, be on the plane to South Africa.
O’Gara’s father-in-law, Dominic Daly, said it was wonderful that Ronan had been chosen to go on the Lions tour.
“I’m delighted there are so many of the Irish lads going to South Africa. You’d have to feel sorry though for Marcus Horan and John Hayes, who have lost out,” Mr Daly said.
“It’s great to see Keith Earls getting his place. He’s a great runner and he could really shine in South Africa. I hope all 14 get a chance to play in at least one of the tests.”
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