These days it's almost impossible to source tickets for Six Nations matches at Landsdowne Road so it was a pleasant surprise to be offered one by the brother at short notice through an in-law connection. A daughter had the good sense to take up with one of the Irish team and the family gripped some of his generous ticket allocation. Apparently each player is given four free tickets and the opportunity to buy a dozen more.
Although the days dawned wet, grey and miserable there was no temptation to light the fire, open the wine and sit back to watch it on TV. There's a special buzz about being at the event even if you miss the fine detail of the action. It starts on the DART platform in Dalkey as the beefy middle-classes congregate in their Irish favours - talk is of O'Driscoll's child born earlier in the day and of the abysmal weather.
This English team has built their recent reputation at home and I had the feeling that they may be vulnerable away. The weather was eroding this optimism. England are better equipped for a war of attrition in the mud than the more creative and free-running Irish. Plus their metronomic kicker Farrell will keep the score ticking along through penalties. I felt increasingly pessimistic as we trundled towards Landsdowne Road.
And then a fine creamy pint in the stadium before the match and we settle back to watch the drama unfold. How all occasions did inform against us. Zebo, the man most likely to sparkle on this dull day, goes off injured and is followed by Sexton, the fulcrum of the team. Heaslip gives away two soft penalties and there is an outbreak of fumbling across the team - handing good ball back to the English. O'Gara is either nervous or over the hill - he slices three consecutive kicks into touch and is as usual targeted by anyone looking for easy access to our goal line. England are hugely efficient in defence and kick far better than us. They made far fewer mistakes and deserved to win.
We trudge through the rain to Smith's on Haddington Road and revive our spirits with a trio of excellent pints. Talk is of Lincoln and Richard II - the recent film and an impending play. We've taken it on the chin and moved on.