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20th Dec 2016

Why Nothing In The World Compares To Being An Irish Sports Fan


Being Irish isn’t always easy. 

Perched on the side of the Atlantic, our weather is miserable, many of our politicians corrupt and we’ve only recently recovered from the banks and institutions bankrupting the country. 

Many of our smart young folk have emigrated. 

Our public services are in bits, and the whole country seems to be either threading water or about to go to the picket lines. 

I could go on…

With so much going against us, you’d forgive us if we were a pack of miserable brats. Yet with the odds so stacked, the indomitable Irish spirit always fights back. 

This has been true in everyday life for centuries but even more so when it comes to sport. 

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Last night at Solider Field was yet another magical day to etch into our memories alongside Giant’s Stadium ’94, Stuttgart ’88 and Harrington ’07.

A night where the perfect cocktail of huge Irish support, outstanding talent and sheer will to win combined to throw up the most improbable result imaginable. 

I was first bitten by the bug when behind the goal in Stuttgart as a 9 year old when Ray Haughton put the ball in the English net and since then I’ve enjoyed a couple of dozen moments of unparalleled happiness that can only be delivered through being an Irish sports fan. 

These are the things I’ll think about most in old age. 

Not everybody in the country would call themselves a sports fan but when our teams tog out in green – the potential for cathartic, sensational moments that unite the country are always there. 

This year alone we’ve had the O’Donovan brothers, the Irish football fans singing lullabies in France and last night the most sensational win imaginable, with a team playing for their fallen friend against what many called the best rugby team ever. 

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Last night is a sporting moment that helps define the character of our small country. 

Yes, it is just a game of rugby but sport has the ability to inspire future generations of Irish kids. It has the potential to showcase our country on a global stage in a positive light. 

It brings us all closer together and crucially it can makes us feel very good about ourselves, and lift the gloom that permeates other parts of our lives. I watched a pub full of people with furrowed brows start watching that match only to grow with every point and push their chests out further as they hugged each other after every score. 

I don’t think I am imagining it when walking around today seeing people with a pep in their step. A new lease of life. Problems like mortgages, bills and bosses at work, forgotten. Sport has the power to do that. 

For every moment like last night you’ll probably have to suffer a hundred moments of anguish as an Irish fan. The key is sticking with it, however, because there will be another huge success before long and it’ll take you by surprise and leave you speechless again.

Savour every moment today. Read every paper. Watch every Youtube clip 10 times. Listen to all the analysis you can find. Don’t ever take this feeling for granted. 

Being an Irish sports fan is the greatest feeling in the world and today is very close to the top of the list of our many majestic and outlandish successes. 

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