An edited version of this review appeared in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on the 19 March 2017.
Monday, March 27, 2017
Over the course of the 5 weekends that constitute the Six Nations championships I tipped the winners of 12 of the 15 matches. The three I got wrong all involved Ireland. I thought we'd beat Scotland and Wales and lose to England. Of course we shoulda and coulda in the first two cases but there's a fatal lack of cutting edge in our back line (aside from Sexton and Murray) and we couldn't translate dominance into scores. The preponderance of home results suggest that there's not much between all the teams (excluding hapless Italy) and that England have been over hyped. I have a feeling our season will end well with Munster and Leinster well in contention for European honours. We should have 6 or 7 players in the Lions. Sexton, Murray, Furlong, Stander and O'Mahony will surely go. Best, Henshaw, Healy and O'Brien are possibilities and I'd nominate Zebo as a wild card. Best has an outside chance of being captain but I strongly suspect it'll be a Welsh man. I'll take anyone but Hartley.
Friday, March 17, 2017
After the concentrated focus on Cheltenham all week it's a relief to move on to rugby where my engagement isn't financial apart from the odd bet on Stander to score the first try. I missed my week 4 forecast but would certainly have expected both France and England to win easily as they did. I thought Ireland would be too good for the previously unimpressive Welsh side but we managed to fuck it up again for a number of reasons. Henshaw's rush of blood ultimately cost us the match because the momentum was with us and a converted try at that stage would have seen them sag. However, given the amount of possession we had, we still should have won. There is a lack of creativity in the back line - especially at centre. We rely too much on Sexton to create the spark, or Murray. They were both off for periods which set us back. Also, our bloody lineout has gone to the dogs. It's inexplicable to me how O'Mahony isn't on from the start to give us more options. Toner was woeful and deserves to be dropped and Best wasn't exactly hitting his targets. England will murder us in this area unless we come up with something. Regarding this weekends matches, let's get the easy ones over with. Scotland will show that they are not as awful as they appeared against England by hammering Italy. France will confirm my poor opinion of Wales by beating them, not quite so easily. Wales rescued their season by beating us and won't be as cranked up. I had thought we would do a home town job on England but seeing the team I now doubt it. Murray is a huge loss, not least for his cover and tackling but also for his general air of being in charge. Kearney has been poor all season so I'm glad he's gone. His aerial game is as good as ever but after he makes a heroic catch he just charges aimlessly into the cover and the whole thing peters out. Payne is short of game time and I'm not sure a match against England is the place to give it to him. I'd have put Zebo there and added Conway or Gilroy on the wing. Having dropped Toner for being off form Schmidt has still omitted O'Mahony. I'd have dropped Heaslip (where has he been this season?) and rejigged the back row to accomodate O'Mahony. It's beginning to seem that Schmidt has a Leinster bias and that he's reviving that old adage about it being harder to get off the Irish team than to get on to it. I see England winning by about 12 points. I'll be very happy to be wrong as, unlike Cheltenham, it won't cost me anything.
Monday, March 13, 2017
A slightly edited version of this review appeared in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on the 12 March 2017.
John Short is best known for his bright and playful water colours and prints depicting the often portly denizens of South County Dublin going about their bathing business. Short’s work keeps the best of company and can be found in Áras an Uachtaráin, the Shelbourne and in the Law Library. His new show at the Solomon extends beyond his usual haunts to embrace cockatoos and kangaroos in Australia and dancers in the South of France. Large watercolours, such as the striking Cockatoos, Sydney, require a deft touch and Short is a master of the medium. His expertise was recognised with the prestigious 2012 Artist Prize at the Royal Watercolour Society in London. He augments his paint work with ink, collage and occasionally photo transfers. There’s a sense of evanescence in some of these carefree scenes. It is suggested in the ectoplasmic outlines of his swimmers in Winter Bathing Scene, Seapoint as they disport themselves against the stern permanence of a Martello tower. His collected sketchbooks over the past thirty years are also on show, evidence of a long-standing dedication to his art and his capacity for capturing the transitory and rendering it permanent in his warm and colourful paintings.
John P. O'Sullivan