Billy Keane: Perfect time to shake off drunken Paddy image
The Romans gave us the very words we speak. Their empire's glory days remain only between the pages of books and in the ruined magnificence of their architectural heritage. Empires come and empires go. Ireland will face former superpowers Italy and Spain in the Group of Debt. Croatia are in trouble too.
Yes, we must enjoy the good times. The Romans gave us the word 'decorum.' It meant, and still does mean, we must behave and dress with dignity.
The 'go on ya boya, pints galore, let's get wasted, leprechaun beards marinated in porter, best fans in the world, b*****ds in customs confiscated the 1,000ml of Chef Sauce, me plastic shillelagh is punctured, Trap should play 4-4-4, sold a kidney to get here' brigade, do not represent me or my Ireland.
But what I want to know is where did the impostors get the money to go on manoeuvres to Poland? The banks wouldn't loan a guide dog the price of a bone. Surely they didn't save it up? It's been years since we've had the lingering taste of Post Office saving stamps glue on the tips of our tongues.
And what if Angela Merkel gets to hear of all the money we have for the good times? You'd hardly give alms to a plump beggar with his cap out in one hand and a pint in the other.
The amount of money leaving the country, for good, greatly reduces our tax take. The Poles are even cuter than Trapattoni. They have managed to make money out of the Irish in the best of times and in the worst of times. It's no wonder a few thousand shipyard workers from Gdansk managed to bring down the Soviet Empire.
The Poles have endured their share of invasions over the centuries. They have suffered enough. I'm just hoping our fans will not yield to the temptation to play up to the caricature of Upyaboya.
I was trying to remember the glory days under dear old Jack.
There was a sense of 'we're there at last'. All those years of watching the other countries play for the great trophies and the near misses were forgotten. It was an 'I thought I would never see it in my lifetime' sort of a feeling. The fans took over Europe and the States.
The vast majority of our supporters are passionate about the game and are patriotic. Most will be perfect ambassadors. I just don't like the cliche of Paddy not giving a damn about the economy and drinking himself into a pils- induced Celtic upyaboya coma.
So, how then do we want the world to see us? A mad-for-the- craic, green army?
Whenever I hear that word craic, it evokes images of puking up pints to make room for more and fellas without a note in their head closing their eyes as they demolish Raglan Road. Oh, but Patrick Kavanagh must be turning like an electric milk whisk. The stony grey soil is well rotovated by now. Then there's the eejits banging bodhrans as indiscriminately as the vuvuzelas that ruined the World Cup in South Africa.
Famed uilleann piper Seamus Ennis could squeeze a tune out of a punctured bellows. He had no time for chancer bodhran players with no more rhythm than a chug-a-chugga bulldozer. When asked what was the best yoke to bang a bodhran with, his reply was "a penknife."
It's time now for the citizens of an island that has produced some of the most brilliant thinkers the world has ever known to represent our country with dignity and honour. Drink and be merry, by all means, because our sense of fun has saved us from the worst downturn of all -- the depression of the soul -- but let us do so with humour and intelligence. There are thousands in Poland. Many are at a major tournament for the first time.
Let the world see we have evolved. This may seem to be a bit rich coming from a publican, but you can have a great night without getting drunk. And come home safe.
The nation will watch as one tomorrow night. This team and their manager have united Ireland. We are in the toughest group of all. We must play like men possessed. These lads have seen the glory days on TV, the welcome homes after valiant defeats. As kids they craved the chance at immortality. Now is their Italia '90.
The fans must take their lead from the players who fought on their backs to get us here.
Richard Dunne has made his share of off-field headlines, but he has moved on. His display in Moscow against the might of Russia was truly heroic. If Napoleon had him, the French tricolore would be flying high over Red Square.
Any dad would be proud to have a son like Shay Given. Shay's mother died when he was a toddler from breast cancer. Shay and his wife have worked tirelessly for cancer charities. A nation prays he's fit.
Let us show the world the days of recklessness and drunkenness are gone forever.
There are plenty of real heroes who are a perfect fit as role models. You just have to know where to look.