Irish winger Tommy Bowe, son of Waterford man Paul Bowe, is still basking in the afterglow of his selection in the British and Irish Lions squad which will take on South Africa this summer.
“I’m just so delighted for Tommy and for all of the Irish players,” Paul told RTE in the immediate aftermath of the squad announcement.
“He was terrified as they didn’t know [about the squad selection],” said Paul, who has been based in Monaghan with his wife Ann for 32 years. “They were watching the television the same as we were…
“I would normally get a text from Tommy an hour or so before a selection or a public announcement but to my knowledge he knew nothing about it. None of the players knew.”
Paul is a member of the well-known Bilberry farming family and won a Leinster Schools Cup as a second row with Newbridge College, so rugby is clearly in the Bowe gene pool.
“Emyvale is what made him, from starting to run with Glaslough Harriers and then going on to play with Emyvale Gaelic Football Club and Monaghan Rugby Club,” he added.
“He had a couple of great years a few years back. Next thing, he wasn’t flavour of the month for a while and all of a sudden he’s come back and shown great strength of character on his behalf as a young fella to get discarded and then to make his way back again.”
The tension of the Lions squad selection made the Bowe household a tense place to be on Tuesday last.
“Ah man, to sit and watch that TV wondering will they [be named] in alphabetical order, will they come in numbers or what way – it was tough,” said Paul, an avid Munster Express reader.
And what about the man himself? “It’s fantastic news and after achieving the Grand Slam with Ireland it pretty much rounds off a great season for me,” said the Ospreys speedster.
“It’s been a long, tense wait for everybody over the last few months with all the media build-up, but the waiting is over and I’m just thrilled to have made the squad.
“A Lions tour is a pretty special thing, all rugby fans know about the folklore that comes with it, and to be confirmed as part of the 2009 Lions is an incredible feeling.
“It’s a unique experience, with four countries coming together, but with five Ospreys team-mates as well as 13 other Irishmen, I can’t see it being that difficult for me to blend in.”
The good news has just kept rolling for Bowe this week: he has been shortlisted for both the IRUPA Player of the Year and the Try of the Year award, thanks to his dramatic effort in the Grand Slam-clincher in Cardiff.