Has this London boy finally become a culchie?

Double Vision by Charlie Adley

Last Friday evening I rolled down the blinds in my living room to block out the blazing sunshine, so that I could watch the Ireland game. Not the slightest trace of guilt ran through me, even though I could have joined the Snapper, who was sitting outside, drinking a glass of wine and revelling in the beauty of a summer’s evening in the West of Ireland.

To be fair to myself, I’d spent many hours working and walking outside during that beautiful spell of weather, and know my own signs of having had enough: a slight sting from the skin on my forehead when it meets the salt in a bead of sweat and it’s time to seek shade.

No offence to your boys in green, but as a lover of football it’s unusual for me to either look forward to or subsequently enjoy watching Ireland play, yet for some inexplicable reason I’ve watched pretty much every game they’ve played in the last 21 years.

Mind you, I’d have to be a cynical bore not to have loved being crammed into Keogh’s pub in Ballyconneely, like a nut in a bag of beery muesli, experiencing the beating of Italy in Giants Stadium back in 1994. When Ray Houghton’s goal went in, the pub and nation went mental as one, creating a truly memorable sporting thrill in my happy pantheon.

While I cheer for your lads, I’m loyal to my own. If England are playing and on telly at the same time as an Ireland game, my loyalty is to your auld enemy. Sadly, my love of football is rarely sated significantly more by my lads in white than your own.

Almost as soon as last week’s game started, my brain switched off. The Faroe Islands players made it abundantly clear that they had no desire to score a goal. In their minds victory existed within the parameters of how great or feeble might be their defeat. The game was going to be a non-competitive bore.

To pass the time I sent a few texts to some of my Irish friends who I imagined must be watching, but no: Dalooney was playing on Inishturk; the Quinnster was having a barbeque, and quite rightly; everyone else was out, living their lives, enjoying the wondrous evening that was in it, as you are wont to say.

So why was I feeling a loyalty to the Ireland team that so many of my Irish friends didn’t? Indeed, why was I repeating a pattern of behaviour that once brought me much pain when I lived in north Mayo?

Back then, on another baking hot Summer’s evening, I sat alone in the empty McHale’s pub, watching the crushing bore that was Ireland v Andorra, as surprised then as I was last week to discover that the Irish celebrate being Irish by being outside when the sun shines  in Ireland.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.