Saturday 25 November 2017

Saddened by toxic online belch of bored and angry fans

Robbie Keane, Republic of Ireland captain, leads the team out for the start of the game against Georgia
Robbie Keane, Republic of Ireland captain, leads the team out for the start of the game against Georgia

Ger Gilroy

Sport isn't supposed to be a trip to an art gallery to ponder life's great mysteries.

Sure you can go to the Nou Camp as a tourist and thrill at Messi or tiki-taka, you can catch the All Blacks fillet another team with precision and purr if that's your bag.

When it comes to your own team, though, sport is supposed to be a street-riot of emotion, an immersion into incoherent hope and longing. It's also supposed to be about support.

The absence of support for Ireland on Monday night, the paltry crowd at the Aviva, was the physical manifestation of what was happening on Twitter during the Georgia game. My feed, for most of the game, was a toxic belch of bored and angry fans.

This was apparently worse than the Staunton era, and O'Neill and Keane were "stealing a wage", offered one champ. It made me sad. I realise it's naïve to want people to support the team they support.

I realised it too when with 68 minutes on the clock many Galway fans around us left Croker on Sunday, refusing to support their team in their moment of need. That made me sad too.

The instant rolling notifications we get now during a game means that there's no space for quiet reflection. It urges us all to decide right now what we believe. Now, every half-formed idea gets an airing from every airhead sports fan in the world.

Bombardment from the Champions League makes expectations unrealistic. We had zero current Champions League players playing on Monday. Do we really expect Robbie Brady to be Dani Alves, Jon Walters to be Neymar?

Ireland did okay. The game was grand. The team tried and during the game needed support.

Afterwards, release the hounds of your inner critic for sure, but maybe during the game there's a role for the supporters too to, you know, support.

Irish Independent

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