Words of wisdom for the sports stars of the future

THANK you students, please sit down. It’s an honour to address the class of 2010. I know you guys are busy cramming ahead of the Leaving Cert’s commencement in a few short days.

Very quickly if I may, I’d like to offer some advice to you, our athletes of tomorrow.

Firstly, if you’re going to write a book – really, I can’t say this enough, guys – do NOT hire an Australian to write it. Tadhg Kennelly once sat where you are; he learnt that particular lesson the hard way.

Don’t roll your eyes, young lady – and while I’m at it – read it before you charge €10 a copy in Eason’s. You know the way you and your friends sit on the top deck of the last bus and get your stories straight on a Saturday night? Well, it’s the same thing – get your story straight.

Pick up the phone to your grandmother every now and then – particularly if you’re in Bratislava and you’ve concocted a tissue-thin story centred on her demise. She’d like a call. For realsies.

Seeing Marty Morrissey in a white tuxedo means you’ve either made it to the Burlington for All Stars night, or you may be unconscious after a particularly heavy knock. Either way, walk away from Marty. Walk away.

The same way you couldn’t feed the Gremlins after midnight, do NOT wake The Duffer before midday.

You’ll have read the term ‘friendly fire’ in your history textbooks. If you find yourself on the turf at Twickenham and one Paul O’Connell is thundering by... duck.

Tom Humphries once described sports writing as a form of assisted living. You bright young things will one day bound from a dressing room, warmed by a great victory. You may notice your pastel-bright, Skins episode of a life is suddenly darkened by the sorry sight of overweight, under-paid, middle-aged men huddling in the doorway like they felt the first shudders of an earthquake. These are the journalists. Please, assist them. When they point a dictaphone (it’s like an iPod shuffle drawn by Roger Hargreaves) throw them the crumbs of a quote or two. You can then dash off to Krystle.

Don’t listen to those who tell you to tuck in your shirt. Who was the last man to win Wimbledon with his shirt tucked in? Michael Stich. Stich? Yeah, exactly. Wear what you like – but wear the jersey with pride.

If you’re being criticised by Dunphy, you’re probably doing something right. (Although, I was once reprimanded by the main man when working as a researcher on his radio show; given the simple job of looking after the morning’s text poll, I accidentally transposed the results. When he incorrectly informed his audience that Steve Staunton’s appointment had the backing of an amazing 81% of respondents, he was not happy and hastily cut to an advert. I don’t work in radio any more, you may notice.)

Like taxes and death some things in life can be relied on; if you’re warming up under the Hogan Stand before a Leinster final, factor in a few more stretches while the Dubs trickle in from the Red Parrot. Fitness never kicked a point from 40 yards.

If Tracey Piggott does not try to wrap you in a warm, maternal embrace after a memorable victory, change barber or deodorant.

If cast in the heroic role of third-man-in during a run-of-the-mill melee then simply windmill wildly like Pete Townshend on a second encore. What...oh... Pete Townsend? The Who? Never mind.

When asked for your greatest ambition for inclusion in the match programme questionnaire, you must ALWAYS say: winning the county with the club. If you do not, the very fabric of this universe will be compromised, the sun will go supernova and the earth may well topple of its axis rendering that year’s county championship void.

Soccer players, wait ‘til you can afford an equally ostentatious car before you wear football boots boasting colours that were developed so astronauts could see the abort button as the sun explodes (see above).

Feel free to loosen up with the quotes. When an ashen-faced feature writer, defeated by your apparent omerta, collapses onto the restaurant table and asks, like the final act of a dying wasp, ‘what was the last film you saw?”, he’s not trying to catch you out. We don’t need an alibi. We just want you to admit to seeing Robin Hood so when you score an OG we can write a lazy intro about giving to the poor and get the graphics department to superimpose a felt hat on your head.

If you ever hear yourself, like Ashley Cole, bemoaning a €55k a week offer from your club, take a long hard look at yourself in Cheryl Cole’s bedroom mirror. Is this where you want to be, boys?

Don’t believe the hype.

Treat the FAI like the Churchill Dog – do not believe a word he spits out. If they book you on a pre-World Cup training break somewhere in the sub-continent, ask them to show you on a map with their finger and to forward on a copy of the ticket, post haste. Oh yes. Let Tommy Bowe have a go on the Singstar every now and then. We know he’s bad. But that’s what sport’s about.

* adrian.russell@examiner.ie; Twitter: @adrianrussell

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