Friday 28 October 2016

You'll never beat the Irish - or our fans

Published 14/06/2016 | 02:30

You’ll never beat the Irish. Well, the fans anyway. Photo: PA
You’ll never beat the Irish. Well, the fans anyway. Photo: PA

Instead of being threatened with expulsion from the tournament like our near neighbours, Ireland once again had reason to be proud of our nation abroad.

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Before a ball was kicked, Ireland was already being toasted by the Euro 2016 hosts, France. The praise was directed at our country's fans, who have transported a joie de vivre to Paris for our opening game in Group E against Sweden at the Stade de France.

Whether it was singing outside bars and bistros or doing a rock-the-boat dance line down a boulevard, the Parisians appeared enchanted by the Irish fans' upbeat mood - and the Swedish fans were willing collaborators.

Following a 2-2 draw against Holland in a World Cup 2002 qualifier, Roy Keane decried the Irish willingness to accept moral victories, rather than wins on the scoreboard.

However, even at his surliest, the Republic of Ireland assistant manager would have to accept that our fans are, once again, a credit to the nation.

You'll never beat the Irish. Well, the fans anyway.

On the pitch against Sweden, the Irish team put on one of the best performances of Martin O'Neill's reign as manager.

The attack-minded approach to the game and presence on the ball in this 1-1 draw will leave Ireland disappointed not to have won the game.

This positive outlook was epitomised by goalscorer Wes Hoolahan, who now joins the likes of Ray Houghton, Ronnie Whelan, Kevin Sheedy and Niall Quinn as a scorer of a memorable goal for Ireland in a major tournament.

A product of Belvedere FC and Shelbourne FC, from his native northside of Dublin, Hoolahan is very much a homegrown talent, who deservedly availed of a long-delayed chance to deliver on the big stage.

Here's to more of the same against Belgium and Italy.

Orlando joins ever-growing list of US shooting atrocities

Terrifying details continue to emerge of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The gunman who went on a shooting rampage in the popular gay nightclub shot nearly all of his victims in the first stages of the assault, then talked by phone to police about plans for further carnage, claimed allegiance to the Islamic State and praised the Boston Marathon bombers.

The worst mass shooting in American history left 49 people dead and 53 wounded. The targeting of gay people in this savage matter has shocked the gay community in the US, Ireland and elsewhere around the world.

The deaths are particularly inexplicable as these murders were perpetrated by a US-born individual, who had come to the attentions of the FBI, and yet was easily able to obtain assault weapons and ammunition.

Filmmaker Michael Moore, whose documentary on mass shootings 'Bowling for Columbine' won an Oscar, described simply last night to a perplexed audience in this part of the world how this can happen: "Any sick, twisted individual can walk into a store next to a McDonalds and buy an M16."

Following the Orlando massacre, US President Barack Obama yet again expressed outrage in a familiar lament. Obama continues to call for a tightening of gun controls.

America continues to ignore those calls, with its political leadership on Capitol Hill refusing to budge and failing to build a consensus on gun laws. Hence, Orlando is destined to join an ever-growing list of atrocities, including the likes of Sandy Hook, Aurora, Killeen and Columbine.

Irish Independent

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