Being Irish isn't about birthplaces
Many thanks to Eamonn Sweeney for his moving tribute to Tony Grealish [Apr 28], who was a great Irish sportsman.
I always felt a huge affinity with Tony because he was a contemporary of mine in age, place of birth and family background. I was reminded of an article I read in the early 1980s where Tony spoke of his sorrow at the way his loyalty to his country was questioned by a member of the management of the FAI no less, who told him to his face that he was only a mercenary playing for Ireland because he couldn't get a game for England. This insulting attitude is extremely common. A foul-mouthed variation of it was the first thing venomously hurled at Mick McCarthy by Roy Keane in their argument in Saipan.
The irony is that it is always the people who speak loudest about the unconquerable nature of the Irish spirit and identity who are the quickest to deny these characteristics to people like us who were forced to live elsewhere not through choice but bitter economic necessity. These ineradicable and unique qualities apparently vanish like the morning mist in someone born in perfidious Albion.
Perhaps if these self-appointed keepers of the national identity spoke our own language they might be able to recognise fellow Irishmen a little easier. It is of course simpler to get a tricolour tattoo or sing self-pitying 'rebel' songs as badges of identity.
Tony Grealish was proud of his Irish identity just as I am. He refused to have his nationality denied to him not by foreign oppressors but by people who lack the magnanimity of spirit and breadth of vision to understand that being Irish is important even to 'Plastic Paddies' like us.
Time to muzzle that bite reflex
Beating an opponent by the skill of superior ability is the life blood of any sport. However, trying to get one over the competition by eating them are tactics that are a little hard to swallow.
Liverpool player Luis Suarez, whose hunger for the game lapsed into near cannibalism, was certainly off the ball with his jaw-dropping behaviour. If any team member becomes so wired up by the occasion they are involved in, maybe they should consider doing the same with their mouths for health and safety reasons.
Or even simpler just keep their gobs shut for once, yippee?
Rugby law book needs an update
The Neil Francis comparison of the Boston bombers to Paul O'Connell's fly-kick [Apr 21] is much more deeply troubling than the alleged foul. It is followed by a call for 'perspective, equilibrium and justice' and an invitation to 'flick on to the next page'. This I duly did and I will not be reading this writer's hype again.
Most of your other writers also aim their ire at the player. Attempts are made to elevate carelessness to recklessness. This is an action which judges and juries, from a distance, have failed to achieve for centuries. Surely the ref, his assistant refs, the TMO and citing commissioner deserve a mention? After all, they and many others are the regulators of the tough game of rugby,
This increasingly intensive and professional sport is a physical endeavour which deserves ongoing analysis towards stricter rules and more safety. Regulation 17-10.4c urgently requires updating by the IRB. David Kearney, Paul O'Connell, all players everywhere and 'all sets of rugby supporters' deserve nothing less.
Dubs' walk-offs leave sour taste
I write to alert you of my concern for what I would consider the Roy Keane mentality that is creeping into the GAA and especially members of the Dublin panel and indeed their management.
Stephen Cluxton disappeared down the tunnel before the Sam Maguire was presented to his winning captain and Jim Gavin did likewise on winning the league title last week. There is a long-standing tradition within the GAA (and indeed many other sports around the globe) that the losing team never leave the playing field before the victors accept their winning reward. To have a vacation of the turf by members of the triumphant team is an insult to the counties and indeed the individuals who will go through their whole career without a day in the sun, such as those that come with an All-Ireland or league win.
I have no problem with their obvious ambition. But from what I have seen of their actions it looks like a deliberate message of not caring about the prize that has been won and only about the next one. Could that ambition not be communicated behind closed doors? And not insult the many great players that have lost out on such a coveted prize? Incidentally, my memory recalls Roy Keane remaining on the pitch both in defeat and victory.