THIS weekend I will play in a cup final for the first time since I was just emerging from the spotty, cranky throes of puberty.
Unexpectedly, for this final I won't be donning the beautiful and well chosen yellow and wine colours of Bruff (although I won't be the only Bruffian playing) but instead the red, black and white of the Vancouver Rowing Club - which in Canada passes for the name of a rugby club.
And this week, while anticipating the Lower Mainland final, my mind has wandered back to my previous big final days back home in Limerick.
I'm almost sure that my first sporting final was in Croom at an Under 10s hurling tournament with South Liberties. It was memorable for us losing and my accidentally smacking our opponent's captain on the chin with the boss of my hurley during the clash. After the game, I tried to apologise to him for it as he showed his teammates the cup but he told me to get lost. Even at nine years-of-age I had a capacity for sourness that made me wish at the time that I'd cracked his chin into several pieces, thereby preventing his petulant reponse.
After that less than savoury introduction to cup finals, there were a few barren years but a team on which I featured once again climbed to the summit at Under 13s, this time in the oval ball code. For many years, Newport had been the bane of our young lives such was their dominance in our particular grade of underage rugby. That's what made it all the sweeter when we beat them in the North Munster Cup Final in Thomond Park.
I can still see our centre celebrating with his hand in the air even before he crossed the chalk after intercepting a Newport pass on the half way line. Even more clearly can I remember one of our player's parents roaring at him from the sideline to stop such classless carry-on as it was Thomond Park he was playing in and not Old Trafford.
The following year brought with it another final day, this time once again in hurling but unlike the Croom catastrophe, this time Liberties emerged victorious. There were however parental remonstrations again on this occasion however as we celebrated our win in the Klinsmann style that was fashionable with jackass 14-year-olds at the time. It was hugely disrespectful to the jersey, we were told, to cover it in muck by sliding along the ground, especially seen as the celebration had originated from a bloody soccer player.
Our Bruff team returned to Thomond Park again the next year for an Under 15s cup final showdown with Richmond but there was to be no repeat of our Under 13s heroics as we crumbled to the boot of one Wayne Murphy who could have dissected the posts with a kick taken from one of the ground's toilet cubicles that day.
Certainly there have been other finals since then that I have been involved in but on every occasion it has been as a splinter arsed substitute. That won't be the case this Saturday however when I'm hoping I'll be able to bring a bit of that Bruff Under 13s and South Liberties Under 14s luck to proceedings.