Like many others, I have a number of team loyalties spread over a number of codes.
In rugby, it’s Munster (and Ireland, of course.) In Gaelic football, ’tis my native county of Mayo. As Mayo is crap at hurling, Cork would be the next choice, as it’s my wife’s county. (She couldn’t give a damn, as her loyalties lie with soccer and rugby.)
My English football team is Queens Park Rangers. I never had any interest in football as a kid and so am not a fan of Liverpool or Manchester United. I lived in London for ten years, most of which was in West London, and QPR was my local team, so I used to go there every now and then.
I remember talking to a die-hard QPR fan in a pub in Shepherd’s Bush once after a match. He must have been in his sixties, and I asked him how long he’d been going to Loftus Road.
“Man and boy”, he replied. “I’ve followed this team through thin and thin. There ain’t been much thick.”
Such support is noble. The easiest thing in the world is to follow a team when it’s winning. It’s an awful lot harder to support a team that isn’t doing well.
So here we are. Ireland have been underperforming for months. The easy option is to take the shirt off, ball it up and throw it in the corner of the room. As supporters, we take upon ourselves the role of critic. We castigate one or more players who are underperforming, and if they are chosen to start in the next match, we throw our hands up to the heavens!
But you can’t just unshackle yourself, because supporting Ireland isn’t just in your blood, it’s in your DNA.
And so we must support Ireland tomorrow. We have to put the Namibia disaster behind us and cheer on our lads against Georgia.
COME ON IRELAND!!