Irish Central – So tonight Ireland’s Euro 2012 effectively came to an end… against possibly the greatest team in the world in the Spanish, and the result was a predictable 0-4 trashing. Bizarrely, what most will remember from the match will be the absolutely incredible display of support the magnificent travelling Irish fans showed, as the clock ticked down first to 90 minutes and then through the last three minutes of added time. With the match dying out, the masses of Irish fans ripped out a six minute long, stirring rendition of ‘The fields of Athenry’. Several TV shows (I hear German, Dutch and even Spanish) deliberately didn’t speak over the singing to allow their viewers experience it properly.There are going to be plenty of cynics who try and bring this wonderful little moment down, but just ignore them. Crank up the volume, sit back and enjoy…. This is just a wonderfully unusual moment in sports, a moment of goodwill, kindness, passion and loyalty. Enjoy it for what it is. Support, in the truest sense of the word. No Nazi banners, no bananas thrown on the pitch, no angry, hateful chants. Just pride and passion, displayed in a dignified, moving way by literally thousands of Irish who refused to let the score get in the way of their support for their boys. We live in what can be a nasty, brutish world, it is heart warming every now and then to find an oasis of goodwill and humanity. Low lie, the fields of Athenry..
For once, I’ll write a soccer blog that is cynicism-free. One thing I’ll let soccer fans in on is that part of the reason people like me who don’t follow the sport like to tool on it is that you guys are so preternaturally self-serious about it. You defend the sport like the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword protecting the secrets of the Grail. You have zero sense of humor about the sport and the madder you get at the rest of us the funnier it is. And this is coming from a guy who watches golf and figure skating for crissakes. But at least I can laugh about them. So lighten up, Francis.
But there’s nothing to make fun of here. This is… pardon the expression because words fail me… pissah. I have to imagine losing a soccer match by 4 goals has to be like losing a football game 70-0. And for these guys to not only stick it out to the end but sing “Fields of Athenry” is what sports should be all about. Like Celtics fans chanting “Let’s Go Celtics” while getting blown out in Game 6, only to the 100th power. And full disclosure, “Fields of Athenry” is one of my all time favorite songs. So for now, I’ll spare you the soccer jokes. Dispense with the Quidditch World Cup references. Put on my Dropkick Murphy’s shirt with the Athenry lyrics on the back and just be proud of my people.