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Billy Keane: 'Locals want to run away with green circus as Ireland's Call gets its loudest rendition'



Andrew Conway goes over to score Ireland’s fourth try despite the efforts of Scotland’s Grant Gilchrist. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Andrew Conway goes over to score Ireland’s fourth try despite the efforts of Scotland’s Grant Gilchrist. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile


Andrew Conway goes over to score Ireland’s fourth try despite the efforts of Scotland’s Grant Gilchrist. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Ireland are sure to go through to the quarter-finals with only one game played.

Yokohama was Dublin and Ireland played like they were back home.

And this was a home away from home. We even brought the rain.

Scotland's alickadoos got their karma in Yokohama for voting against Ireland's World Cup bid.

'The Fields' were sung long before the end. Ireland were too up for it for the Scots. We won well.

Yokohama is a city built on rivers and the sea. The city has a long history of comings and goings but I doubt if the always friendly citizens have ever witnessed anything like the Irish invasion. Invaders are unwelcome but these new friends will follow Ireland from now on.

The trains to the stadium in Yokohama were so packed the sardines left. It was mayhem. On the last leg of our journey a lady turned purple until a friend pulled her on to his lap. And another got up to let her sit down next to a kilted Scotsman. My cousin Bill who has lived here for 30 years spoke to her in Japanese.

He said, "don't go looking up his skirt now, do you hear?" She burst into laughter.


The Japanese are great fun but you have to make the first move. It's not that they are dry or shy. Their culture is built on respect, not only for oneself, but for every other person. People are given their own space in their own place.

Before I came here I believed the stereotype of 24-hour-a-day workers. They are full of fun and so polite.

But once you make the effort, they go from quiet to crazy in about three pints.

The Dublin man with the bun on his head, as in a hair bun, who knew the way to the station had a tattoo engraved on his left calf. The tattoo was a long line of writing, so I asked him if it was a poem.

"It's a joke," he replied, "by an American comedian called Bill Hicks".

"Are you a comedian?" I asked.

"No," he replied, "that's why I have a joke tattooed on my calf."

I couldn't read the calf. He was moving too fast and soon enough the man disappeared in the throng. And I wondered how he read it himself, unless maybe he was some kind of contortionist.

When we did get to the ground Ireland outnumbered Scotland many times over. 'Ireland's Call' was sung louder than in Lansdowne Road. There must be only a skeleton crew back home. Many of our fans came from Australia. It was lovely to see sons and daughters meet mams and dads half-way from their new home and their old home.

We got off to a great start.

Iain Henderson galloped through Scotland, got stopped, got back in to the fray and helped James Ryan finish off his try. Our kitty, with a small 'k', benefited to the tune of €400. It was a tenner on at 40/1.

The drink is dear in Japan. I'd love to bring some of the lads from home out here just to show them how lucky they are but after the game we were drinking the bookies' money.

We had a drink too with Shane from D24 where the best people live, and he told us Dublin won the All-Ireland.

The orange balloon was the first sign. The balloon d'orange hovered around during the anthems before it was taken off towards Mount Fuji and beyond. The winds picked up and the sky went as dark as the first Good Friday. The rains came in at half-time and it was wet rain, the kind that eventually soaks through to the underwear. But it was warm rain.

We had the game won by then.

Ireland's first two tries were made up front. Ryan finished off Henderson's charge. Rory Best went over from close in as the Irish forwards battered Scotland. Then came the luck when the ball hit the butt of the post after Stuart Hogg raced back as if he was Jack who played the lead in Beanstalk.

The Irish defence was up faster than a thirsty man when last drinks are called. Scotland had no time to think. It was a case of shifting on the ball as quickly as possible to the next victim in the line of Irish fire.

The weather changed, and so did the game. It must rain more in Scotland than Ireland. Scotland took over but the ball was all soap and no Velcro.

It rains in Limerick too and Conor Murray ruled the game in the air. His high kick led to a Scottish spill and a try from Andrew Conway who was alert and skilful.

Jonathan Sexton went off early enough, but it wasn't down to a Scottish hit.

Scottish defence coach Matt Taylor threatened to smash Jonathan Sexton just as his team did in the Six Nations when Sexton had to go off after just 22 minutes from a hit on the gain line. This trash talk must be kept out of rugby. Maybe Taylor is a fan of Conor McGregor and Don King.


Murray went off a minute later. Joe is minding the main men. Luke McGrath and Jack Carty settled in and played very well.

It's one of the great joys in our sporting lives to be present here far away from home when our team played so well. We are lucky to be here, representing you and those who cannot manage the journey for all kinds of reasons.

Let me tell you now our team and our supporters are doing a fine job. Not that many knew too much about Ireland before we came over.

We have met so many of these lovely people who want to come to visit us.

The Japanese want to run away with the circus.

Indo Sport