"As expected, the main focus of week 5 was the Munster Race. After two hard days of training which culminated in a particularly nasty conditioning session on Tuesday afternoon, we all began to ready ourselves for the action packed 48 hours that lay ahead. Trying to pack sufficient clothing and footwear for 2 nights away which would include a trip to the gym and a squad session is not an easy task. I managed to make it through our adventure without coming to the realisation that I had forgotten something crucially important which is quite unusual for me.
In Team 6, I was accompanied by Paul O' Connell, CJ Stander, Cathal Sheridan, Robin Copeland, Cian Bohane, James Cronin and Stephen Archer. We began our course for the Munster Race in Bandon RFC where we were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd in glorious sunshine. After this, our talent for sales was scrutinised in Clonakilty as we took part in the Irish Independent Challenge. This involved making our way around the beautiful town and trying to sell as many papers as we could to bemused members of the public. From there we made our way to Clonakilty RFC where we met some members of the club's rugby academy. It must be said that Clonakilty's academy impressed us greatly and could certainly serve as a model which other clubs could follow.
The club can also boast a very well equipped gym which is open to public membership. After a feed of black pudding which had kindly been provided by the one and only Clonakilty Black Pudding company, we completed a short but intense training session in the facility before bidding Clonakilty farewell.
After a quick dip in the ocean on the outskirts of Skibbereen, we arrived in Bantry to participate in a cooking challenge with some members of the Bantry RFC women's team. Stephen and I were fortunate enough to spend a night in Bantry during last year's Munster Race and therefore bumped into more than a few familiar faces who we were delighted to catch up with. Unfortunately for the locals and visitors alike, we heard several people complain about the invasion of jellyfish which had swept the town's beaches this summer, meaning that a swim was out of the question for Team 6 before we ventured to Kenmare, our final stop of the day. Another enthusiastic crowd greeted us in Kenmare Bay Hotel, where medals were presented to some underage teams before we were treated to an extremely pleasing and memorable three course meal in the hotel's restaurant. Worn out from a long day of travelling, we had a reasonable early night before resting up for another hectic day.
Thursday saw us visit the picturesque town of Waterville and its Charlie Chaplin statue before moving on to Killorglin, where we were once again welcomed with open arms by a large number of the town's residents. After an extremely scenic drive around the mesmerising Ring of Kerry, we met the other members of the squad at Colaiste Ide on the outskirts of Dingle before having a relaxing evening listening to one another's encounters on our respective routes of the Munster Race.
We trained as a squad on Friday morning in Corca Dhuibhne RFC, which must be one of the most isolated and visually pleasing rugby pitches in the world, situated between the coast and wonderful mountain scenery. After this, we turned our backs on the Munster Race for another year, having once again enjoyed ourselves immensely while striking up many new friendships along the way. We look forward to seeing everyone again throughout the season."
Duncan's Diary - Week 4
Duncan's Diary - Week 3
Duncan's Diary - Week 2
Duncan's Diary - Week 1