Last weekend's Bundesliga broadcasting monopoly offered a tantalising glimpse of a parallel football universe in which the attention of Irish football fans was not exclusively focussed on the Premier League.
It's odd how limited our knowledge of the Bundesliga actually is. We know about Bayern Munich and a bit about whoever fetches up in the Champions League, particularly if they draw English opposition. After that, many people would find it difficult to tell Wolfsburg from Freiburg or Augsburg or to point out Schalke's home city on a map.
The league's players are known mainly in connection with possible Premier League futures. Timo Werner is Liverpool's big summer target and Jadon Sancho Manchester United's. Kai Havertz's two goals for Bayer Leverkusen against Werder Bremen on Monday - he added another two against Mönchengladbach yesterday - prompted a flurry of headlines about a possible move to Anfield, though he'll probably join Bayern instead.
Last season, aged just 19, the midfielder scored an extraordinary 17 goals in just 34 league games, an all-time record for a teenager which saw him finish runner-up in the German Footballer of the Year awards.
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Havertz's remarkable campaign went largely unremarked over here. As indeed did the spectacular renaissance of the man who pipped him to the top award, Dortmund injury magnet Marco Reus.
Our relative ignorance of German football contributed to the lukewarm welcome afforded Jurgen Klopp in his first two seasons as Liverpool manager.
At one stage there seemed to be a queue of ex-players lining up to mock this bearded interloper. That mistake could have been avoided had they known enough about the Bundesliga to appreciate the magnitude of steering a team which wasn't Bayern Munich to successive titles.
Our knowledge of other leagues is pretty sketchy too. La Liga boils down to Barcelona, Real and to a lesser extent Atletico, who'd probably attract even less attention were their manager not so memorable. This enables complacent contrasts between the Premier League where 'anyone can beat anyone' and La Liga where the big two apparently have it all their own way every week.
In reality, the Premier League is the one with the competitive deficit. Liverpool's 25-point lead and single defeat this season are in stark contrast with the situation in La Liga where the top two, Real and Barca, have already lost eight games between them. Atletico, good enough to knock Liverpool out of Europe, are down in sixth.
This isn't a one off. Last season 25 points separated Liverpool in second place from Chelsea in third whereas in La Liga there were just 26 points between runners-up Atletico and 11th placed Alaves. Yet the canard about the Spanish league lacking the surprise element of its English equivalent continues to be trotted out. That's the great thing about ignorance, it enables your prejudices to remain unchanged by evidence.
A similar dynamic was at work when Ireland's draw in the European Championship qualifiers was heralded as a godsend against opponents who were 'no great shakes'.
A cursory glance would have shown that both Switzerland and Denmark were much greater shakes than Ireland, had players who generally plied their trade with better clubs than ours did and would probably qualify with ease.
This duly happened, but as far as the 'no great shakes' brigade were concerned, unless we'd been drawn against France, Germany, Italy, Spain or England the opposition was there for the taking. For a brief optimistic spell, ignorance was indeed bliss.
In the eyes of many Irish fans anything below Ligue 1 hardly counts as a proper league at all. But after a week when Celtic were lauded for winning another Scottish league title, it's worth recalling that in the past five seasons Glasgow's finest have been eliminated from the Champions League by teams from Slovenia, Sweden, Greece and Romania. League of Ireland sides get stick for losing to teams from countries like that.
I'm not slagging off Irish fans of English clubs. Our love for the Premier League is, given history, proximity, hype and the undeniable quality of football it provides, entirely understandable. The problem is the relationship's monogamous nature.
Slavish loyalty to English football has become a liability for the game here. In an era when the recruitment of foreign managers to the Premier League's top clubs constitutes an admission of English football culture's decline, we've continued to embrace its obsolete worldview.
Martin O'Neill and Mick McCarthy's reigns were dispiriting not just because of the results, but because both men retained an unshakable belief in the old-fashioned values of the English game.
O'Neill and McCarthy aren't the only Irish football people who do so. Witness the way so many Irish pundits share the English belief that all 'continentals' are cheats, perpetually engaged in acts of gamesmanship no English team would ever contemplate.
This belief is The Spirit Of Brexit in a nutshell. Its appeal to the national character of a people prone to xenophobia is obvious. But it seems strange in a country as ostensibly pro-European as Ireland.
Nevertheless, the Irish football man still seems to believe in the fundamentally treacherous nature of those whose first language isn't English. Ronnie Whelan and Jim Beglin will probably never tire of self-righteously barking 'Geh-tap, will ya' at some malingering foreigner.
This affection for the English way of doing things was also apparent in the famed eagerness of putatively perceptive pundits to deride Cristiano Ronaldo as a charlatan who should stop the stepovers and concentrate on tracking back.
It made you wonder how many potential stars have been bullied into conformity at a young age by those convinced that flair and individuality are essentially inauthentic qualities.
This tradition we've clung to for so long is an anomalous one. One striking thing about Ireland's myriad matches against Georgia was that our opposition generally looked the technically better team, more comfortable in possession and more imaginative in their approach.
Physical superiority usually enabled Ireland to grind out a result, but it was striking that the Georgians, inhabitants of a footballing backwater, were in the mainstream of European footballing tradition in a way that we were not.
Scandinavians, Iberians, Eastern Europeans all seem more skilful than our players do. Our approach used to be defensible on the grounds of pragmatism but nowadays the English mode is so outdated even England have moved away from it. By the time Mick McCarthy departed, Ireland looked the crudest team in Europe.
There's no reason Ireland have to embrace the worst qualities of English football. The appointment of Stephen Kenny provides the opportunity for a significant paradigm shift. Despite the condescending suggestions that Kenny would have benefited from a spell at Rotherham or Bradford, the lack of such experience may be one of his greatest strengths. Instead of ploughing away in League One or Two, the former Dundalk manager's formative experiences came in European competition.
Pitted against sides with much greater financial resources who came from an entirely different footballing tradition to ours, Kenny learned more than he ever would have taking on Gillingham, Morecambe or Scunthorpe. That may be why the performances of both Dundalk and his under 21 team were so refreshingly different.
Irish football's failure to break the link with England may mirror our society as a whole. Joining the EEC in 1973 gave us a great chance to look to Europe and move on from a dysfunctional relationship with an overweening neighbour. But nearly half a century later many of us seem as obsessed with the old enemy as ever, none more so than the ultra-nationalists perpetually complaining about ancient English slights and seeking out new ones.
Europe offers a beguiling alternative. We could, for one thing, stop aiming our best young footballers automatically at England and regarding them as failures if they don't prosper there.
Talented ball-players such as Graham Burke, Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy and Jack Byrne might have been better off in a European league more suited to their particular gifts than the rough and tumble of the English lower divisions.
A different perspective can work wonders. One thing which leaps out from Kieran McCarthy's fine book, Something in the Water, about Dominic Casey and the club he built in Skibbereen is how much the 2018 World Rowing Coach of the Year learned by observing his rivals in European competition.
Ireland's great leap forward in rugby owed an enormous amount to not just Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt, but the general importation of southern hemisphere expertise. Seán Kelly and Stephen Roche showed that Irish sportsmen could thrive on the continent, as did Liam Brady when guiding Juventus to two Serie A titles. The American college system enabled Sonia O'Sullivan, Eamonn Coghlan and John Treacy to become world class athletes.
Irish football, and Irish society, need to ditch the obsession with England. Look at the state of the place this weather. There's nothing to be learned there anymore.
I hate to break this to you England, but we need to see other people. It's not us, it's you. We can still be friends.
Sunday Indo Sport