Murray Kinsella reports from Chicago
TADHG BEIRNE WILL be hoping tomorrow at Soldier Field goes better for him than Wednesday night at the United Centre did.
A group of players involved in ‘The Rugby Weekend’ in Chicago were invited on-court during a timeout in the Bulls’ NBA meeting with the Denver Nuggets, and Beirne represented Ireland.
Having been led to believe the appearance would involve a half-court shot, Beirne was surprised when the organisers outlined that it would actually entail spinning around a broomstick and then dizzily trying to find the basket with a ball.
Beirne goes close during the Chicago Bulls’ game. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Beirne, sporting a red helmet, failed to sink his shot, much to the delight of his team-mates watching on.
“Five minutes before we come out and they were explaining the rules and I was thinking, ‘What’s going on here?’” says Beirne.
“I had nominated myself and then I came out with the helmet as well, and I’m going, ‘The lads are going to love this!’ And so I didn’t get my half-court shot, a bit of an embarrassment and the lads got a good kick out of it.”
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Beirne will certainly be more at home tomorrow against Italy, as he makes his first start for Ireland in the second row against Conor O’Shea’s side.
Having won his first two caps off the bench against Australia in June, making a particularly good impression in the third Test against the Wallabies, Beirne is excited to get his shot from the off tomorrow.
“This is probably the main reason I came back to Ireland,” says Beirne, who joined Munster from Scarlets during the summer.
“To be given the opportunity in the first game since I have come back is huge for me. All I can say is that I’m really looking forward to it.
“It’s my first start, these opportunities don’t come around too often.
“It doesn’t matter who it is against or what the occasion is, it’s a start in a green jersey. It’s a big moment for me.”
Beirne was capped twice on the June tour of Australia. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Beirne’s parents and girlfriend are in Chicago for his maiden Test start, while some Philidelphia-based family friends will fly in too.
Tomorrow will be the latest in a growing list of proud days for the Beirne family, with 26-year-old Tadhg having racked up so many of milestones in the last couple of years.
Beirne feels his performances for Munster in the opening weeks of his time with the province “weren’t where I would have liked them to be,” but he is increasingly feeling at ease in Limerick.