Saturday, February 24, 2007


A victory for Ireland

What a tremendous sporting occasion today has proved for the people of Ireland!

Going into today's Six Nations rugby international between Ireland and England, the first ever at Croke Park, all the talk centred around whether or not the English anthem would be respected.

Back in the dark days of The Troubles, some of the UK nations refused to come to Dublin for games. The English team were not one of them and received a superb reception from an appreciative Irish crowd. Why? Because the English had shown us respect.

The media did their best to fixate on the playing of God Save The Queen at Croke park today, even bringing up terrible events from almost ninety years ago. Despite this, the Irish crowd made sure our nearest neighbours were given proper respect as the English anthem ended up being impeccably well-observed.

I never thought I'd feel such a strong sense of pride, listening to God Save The Queen of all things, but I was immensely proud of the rugby fans, and prouder still that the extreme elements of our society did not achieve their aim of putting a dampener on this historic moment.

The most important aspect about today however was the performance on the pitch, and boy did the Irish players deliver. England were played off the park as Ireland defeated them 43-13.

Just a sublime day all round and one of the best sporting moments this island has seen in a long time. You could really get a sense of the emotion that was swirling around the ground and after flicking over to the BBC following the conclusion of the game, you got a sense that the English appreciated what today meant to the people of Ireland too.

Republican Sinn Féin and the rest of the extremist whackos hopefully got the message loud and clear - WE HAVE MOVED ON.

I'll leave the last word to English BBC presenter John Inverdale:

"While it's been an amazing day for twenty-two Irish rugby players, I think the overall winners probably have been the entire Irish nation. All five million of them."

Well said, friend. Well said.

Update: Youtube has the BBC's footage of the anthems at Croke Park yesterday. Quite a moment:


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