THE Six Nations kicks off the weekend after next . It’s a glorious time of the year, especially with Ireland being the defending champions and a pretty decent bet to retain the title.
But if you don’t have a ticket in your mitts for Ireland’s home games against England and France, you won’t be getting one unless you're planning to remortgage your house.
So the next, best option is to watch the games in an atmospheric, lively boozer, which has enough vantage points for you to see the match, isn't it? It goes without saying that every pub in Dublin is going to be jammed come the start of Ireland’s campaign against Italy in Rome on Saturday 7 February. And those of us not hitting the road to Rome would be best advised to select our venue now.
Sinnotts St Stephen’s Green
You can’t get a pub more central than Sinnotts at the top of St Stephen’s Green. And it’s a boozer that’s at its best when it comes to those big sporting occasions, especially rugby. A huge pull-down screen dominating one wall means that nobody in the bar is out of the loop when it comes to the action. And even if there’s an unfeasibly tall bloke blocking your view, there’s another 14 screens around the pub.
The position of the bar – in the centre of the room – also helps when it comes to getting served. There’s a decent carvery lunch option going for when sustenance becomes a necessity. Plus, they've even got a couple of screens outside on King Street for those poor souls who are made do the shopping when they should be watching the game. For shame.
South King Street Dublin 2, Tel: 014784698 www.sinnotts.ie
Kavanagh’s in Fairview
Seeing as the pub is located within an asses roar of Croke Park, Kavanagh's in Fairview has a fine pedigree when it comes to the big games. TV screens are plentiful throughout – with the seats in front of the big screen in the bar to the right arguably the best in the house.
There’s always plenty of barmen on duty, so actually getting a drink is rarely a problem. And any time we’ve actually watched a game in here – a few Six Nations games, an All Ireland Football Final, a couple of Republic of Ireland fixtures and one Leinster Heineken Cup final – results have always been favourable, so it's as much a lucky charm as any now. A final, major plus - the crowd are always pretty knowledgable about the sport they’re watching.
16 Malahide Road, Dublin 3 Tel: (01) 833 2786
Slattery’s Grand Canal Street Up
Another no-brainer. Lying in the shadow of the Aviva, Slattery’s is ideally located for those on their way to the game. The big advantage – aside from its location – is the fact that they have replays of the games going on on the TVs dotted throughout the bar after the event. So any contentious decisions can be relived over a flurry of pints. Only drawback is the place will be mental after the match. But there is a decent covered off smoking area, which you can duck into if the weather goes bad and you don't feel like struggling to the bar.
62 Grand Canal Street Upper, Dublin, Tel (01) 668 5481
Fallons (The Capstan Bar)
A veritable institution, Fallon’s is a proper Dublin pub in the most traditional sense. It might not have the most hi-tech audio visual equipment when it comes to watching a game – a couple of small TV screens at either end of the long bar – but it’s got sporting pedigree.
Well thumbed sporting encyclopaedias lie behind the bar, ready to be nabbed by punters’ eager to sort out that issue of just who was Coventry City’s top scorer in the 1987/8 season before blows are exchanged. We were luck y enough to be here for historic Ireland v England game at Croke Park in 2007 and the atmosphere was insane.
129 New Row Square, Dublin 8, (0)1 453 2564
Doheny and Nesbitts
Another pub which is something of a no-brainer when it comes to the Six Nations, Doheny and Nesbitts is a rugger fan’s paradise. The pub is a traditional stop-off on the way to the Aviva so expect it to be pretty hopping on the day of the game.
Dark and atmospheric, the pub is filled with nooks and crannies, many of which have an easy eyeline to a telly. Get there early – sometime around opening would do the job, nab yourself a decent perch - there’s a good spot in to the right of the back bar - and then bed down. Oh and take it easy on the beers because when this place gets crowded, it can become more enjoyable to be stuck in a ruck then trying to plough your way to the toilets or the bar.
5 Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2, Tel: (01) 676 2945 www.dohenyandnesbitts.ie