Tuesday 20 March 2018

we need team of heroes to beat english

A man told us his grandfather set fire to the RIC barracks in Cahersiveen. "Was he smoking in bed?" asked a member of the company.

Who knows what really happened back then? All we know is our history still impacts on us, in one way or another.

The barring of Queen Elizabeth from a Dublin pub on one of the airport routes to town is a further escalation of the Troubles. The Queen, we are assured by our royal correspondent, is devastated. It's a long drive from Dublin Airport to Jury's Inn without a stop. There's talk of retaliation. Enda will only get an invite to the afters of the Royal Wedding.

We are at peace now with England. Those of us who long for a united Ireland may yet see peaceful reunification in our lifetimes. So why all the aggro, and why do we still see the English as the team we want to beat more than any other?

The image of John Hayes and Jerry Flannery in Croke Park, in tears, during the playing of the national anthem will stay with us forever. The history of what happened years earlier on the very ground where they stood to attention to our own anthem as proud, free Irishmen must have fuelled the emotion.

Back then, we wrote: "It was the night when we grew up as a nation." 'God Save The Queen' was played on a massacre site and not one boo was heard.

The English were very respectful on that famous night in Croke Park. They barely cheered, even before the rout. The non-soccer supporters are far from jingoistic. An English jockey draped in the Union Jack at Cheltenham is as rare as a call from the Cork School of Punditry for Sexton to be picked before O' Gara.

England will have thousands of supporters in the Aviva. They will giddy up the chariot at every opportunity. Alas, many of our ticket-holders only sing when the team doesn't need them or on the way home from winning a hand of bridge. If supporters could be dropped, we'd only have 10,000 Irish at home games.

The wrong people are getting the tickets. We need men and women who put their boots up on the coffee table, men and women who have never heard of tofu, men and women who think the bed is the most boring place in the world to make love in.

It would be a terrible embarrassment if we were out-roared and out-sung on our own ground. I wonder if we could lay on the guilt by persuading the English Maoiliosa that Aviva was an Irish patriot who was shot in the back by the Tans at the Havelock Square End.

The English, generally speaking, haven't a clue about our shared history. If they were taught the story of all their wars, the children wouldn't be able to read or write. The visitors know far more about the Martin Johnson carpet-bagging incident than 1916.

Johnson forced our President off the red carpet. We were livid. It's not that our leader is into pomp.

The family were introduced to the President and her husband, Martin, before our dad's funeral.

Eddie, the ever-friendly barman from Harty's in Tralee, had to be back at work for the lunchtime trade. Eddie was the first man ever to put the brown sauce standing on its head.

He slipped in through the altar and shook hands with all of us in the sacristy. "And which one of the Keanes would you be?" Eddie asked of our President. There was a good chuckle at that.


England destroyed us on the day of the not-so-magic carpet. They were going for the Slam that day too.

Martin Johnson said the carpet incident was not premeditated. We believe him. He doesn't tell lies, but he hasn't given a proper apology. The fact our Head of State is a woman made it worse.

Martin Johnson revisits the scene of the crime for the first time this afternoon. If his team take on his persona and the President is forced to wear wellies, there will be Troubles.

We had better get to the game itself before we run out of paper.

England are a very good side. We will need to play at our very best to win. I always felt Ireland would peak for this one. The team haven't done too badly this year. All they lacked was a little bit of luck and moderately efficient refereeing. Given a happier confluence of fate and efficiency, we too could be playing for the Grand Slam.

Hearts will beat when the anthems play. The English will sing God Save the Queen. God Save Ireland was our unofficial anthem before independence. "'God save Ireland!' said the heroes" is the beginning of the chorus. We need a team of heroes to beat the English.

And wouldn't it be ironic if the winning try was scored at 19.16 on the match clock.

Irish Independent

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