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Exiles cashing in on 'Plastic Paddy' card

THE days of London Irish being an overseas haven for Irish internationals have long since passed and the one that remains, Bob Casey, has spent much of his career in selectorial, as well as geographical, exile.

Furthermore, while their 'home' ground of Reading FC's Madejski Stadium is a perfectly adequate venue, Irish have no traditional association with the stadium or surrounding area in the way they did when playing out of Sunbury.

Nonetheless, on match days, the 'sure and begorrah' card is played to the max. Last weekend, before the Heineken Cup clash with Munster, a large gentleman dressed as a leprechaun patrolled the centre field with an Irish wolfhound, while a balladeer churned out hits from the popular 'Now That's What I Call Paddy' album, his voice quivering with the required amount of emotion.

It felt like Killarney, or Temple Bar, on a Saturday night and then out onto the pitch runs an Exiles team which, Casey aside, was about as Irish as pork scratchings.

That does not make them a bad side, far from it, but the whole operation had a stage-Irish feel to it with the Madejski conveying a 'this place'll do' feel, as opposed to a proper home.

Or, in the mother tongue ... Nil aon tintean mar do thintean fein.

Bob could explain that one to the lads.

Irish Independent