Wednesday 16 October 2019

Tea, coffee and slice of humble pie on the menu for rugby fans

Ireland supporter, Tracey Moran and David Condon, from Sandymount watch the Ireland v Japan World Cup match in Searsons bar on Baggot Street. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Ireland supporter, Tracey Moran and David Condon, from Sandymount watch the Ireland v Japan World Cup match in Searsons bar on Baggot Street. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Japanese supporters in the ‘fanzone’ area of Kumamoto. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Japan supporter, Yumi Esaki, watchs the Ireland v Japan World Cup match in Searsons bar on Baggot Street. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Darren Hayame has breakfast in The Bridge 1859. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM

Alan O'Keeffe

The pub was no place for drowning sorrows after Ireland's defeat to Japan.

Bars across the nation opened in the early morning for the broadcast from Shizuoka. No alcohol was on offer but there was tea, coffee, rashers and a surprise slice of humble pie for shocked Irish fans yesterday.

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"It was safer being in the pub this morning because the kids can't see us crying," quipped John Fitzsimons (50), from Donnybrook, who was among a couple of hundred fans who had breakfast in Searson's on Upper Baggot Street in Dublin.

"It was a bad result but a good fry," he said.

Publican Bill Chawke (25) said 40 fans were queuing at his door when he opened at 7.45am. The pub is a rugby fortress during international games and his barman Johnny Quilty helped ensure the early risers were wide awake with his rousing rendition of Amhran na bhFiann.

Dermot Walsh (50), from Cabinteely, said no brownie points were needed to head off to the pub when the family were still sleeping. Watching the game with his friend Alan Duggan (49), from Templeogue, he said it was much easier for rugby fans to head back home afterwards when no beer was on offer.

There was a small Japanese island in a sea of green - a table occupied by five young Japanese women. Four were students and the fifth, Shiori (28), a translator working in Dublin. She said Shizuoka was her home city and she was delighted to catch a glimpse of home from a stool in Dublin.

She and her friends watched through their fingers each time a Japanese player lined up a penalty kick. They were the only ones smiling at the end.

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Over in Ballsbridge, The Bridge 1859 pub is one of the 'holy of holies' of Irish rugby as it is owned by top rugby quartet Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, and Dave and Rob Kearney. Dozens of fans had come for the breakfast-time broadcast.

Ireland's second try triggered an earthquake of cheering. Busy manager Tony McCabe missed the try as he was in a corridor at the back of the pub. He said: "I heard screaming coming from the kitchen and for a second I thought Adam the chef had burned himself. But he's a rugby fanatic and he saw Rob the boss had just scored a try. When the boss is happy, we're all happy."

Among those cheering Rob's try were husband and wife Barry and Bronagh Conlan, up for the weekend from Kildare. They are loyal followers who are used to rising early to watch televised Irish games in far away time zones. With three young children, they do not get many chances to attend games.

Bronagh said: "Our youngest child is Eirinn Rose and she's going to be a great player - she's the product of celebrating Ireland beating the All-Blacks."

Sitting at the bar in an Irish team shirt was Darren Hayame (42), on holiday from America. "I have mixed feelings because my father is Japanese. But my mother has some Irish ancestry."

He was visiting his friend Steve Kelly (37), a lawyer, from Wisconsin who works for an investment company in Dublin.

Steve said: "I'm here because of Brexit. My company has an office in London but they opened one in Dublin because of Brexit."

Japanese journalist Shinji Ito sat on the floor with his laptop. He was transferred from Japan to London to cover Brexit and was sent to Dublin to get a story of the big game from Ireland's capital.

He was not expecting a Japanese victory. He said: "With all the confusion about Brexit, I was surprised to learn that Northern Ireland and Ireland play together as one team. It is so nice to see that."

Alasdar Browne travelled to the pub from Bray to savour the atmosphere. "I'm crying inside that we lost, but I have to admire the Japanese. They crafted a well-deserved victory."

Cathy Gibbons (36), a soprano with the RTE Philharmonic, said getting up extra early to watch the game in The Bridge was a good idea before a day of rehearsals.

She said: "My two housemates are not rugby fans so they wouldn't like to be woken by me screaming for Ireland."

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