Building on the Rugby success of the Ireland team(s)

It is understandable to view the 09/10 Irish rugby season as bit of a disappointment. No Heineken Cup win, no Grandslam and not even a trifling Triple Crown or a measly Magners league title. Ulster in particular, have had a difficult season vying at the business end of the season with Connacht for the third and last Heineken Cup slot.

Of course Ireland did beat the World Champions South Africa back in November and Munster, Leinster and Connacht made their respective Euro semi-finals. Ulster too, almost made it out of a very difficult Heineken Cup group and have a raft of good young players coming through with three of them making débuts for the senior Ireland team against the Barbarians this evening.

But, it is surely a measure of Irish success over the last while, with Ireland winning the triple crown for four out of the last seven years and with Munster, Leinster and Ulster all winning the Heineken Cup, that we have got a little bit complacent and perhaps a little too expectant. And in case you think I am exaggerating, and to put Ireland’s Heineken Cup successes in perspective, consider the fact that no Welsh team – where rugby is the national sport – has ever won the competition.

Next year, 2011, is World Cup year and just to indulge my fantasies a little we may ‘only’ have to beat Australia, Wales and England (all teams, let it be said, that we have beaten recently) for us to have an Ireland v South Africa final and as I mentioned above, we have just beaten these South African guys last time out.

OK, OK, I know expectancy and complacency will be the death of us.

Of course Irish success did not come about by accident, and although the provincial structure seemed to be ideal in terms of the number of teams and players for the onset of professionalism a lot of credit has to go to the IRFU for managing to keep the Irish players at home in spite of the lure of larger salaries overseas and their general good stewardship through what have been extremely turbulent times for the sport.

So as the Irish squad head off for their Southern Hemisphere world cup rehearsals all is good and wholesome and healthy? Well, mainly. But (and I bet you were waiting for this) two issues really, really, get my goat.

The first has resulted from the decision of the IRFU to redevelop Lansdowne Road which means that from the Autumn of this year we will end up with an international rugby stadium with a capacity of only 51,000. To resolve that, we will have to rely on the GAA changing its long term policy on the use of Croker.

The venues for the Heineken Cup have just been announced for 2011 and 2012 and despite the fact that the oldest rugby stadium in the Universe will soon be re-opening it’s doors, the Millennium stadium and Twickenham have been given the nod – both of which surprise, surprise have capacities of over 80,000.

That’s a lot of lost revenue to the country (assuming at least one away team) and prestige etc and surely in these times of economic hardship we need to re-open the debate on ‘foreign’ sports in the part-publically-funded Croker.

The second is more overtly political and relates to protocol and certain members of Ireland’s rugby team and particularly those from Ulster (and possibly a few from Dublin 4?) having to stand to attention whilst staring at their boots rather than joining in all the pre-match singing.

If the Soldier’s Song is not inclusive enough for players from both political traditions then it should simply be replaced by Ireland’s Call (although, yes, I accept it is a bit of a dirge) for all international matches both home and away, irrespective of whether the President is in attendance or not.

While we are it (and I’ve a loan of Slugger’s ‘bully pulpit’), let’s ditch the other trappings of the ROI state in the ground and not just to ensure that rugby remains an excellent example of North South cooperation but because it the surely the right thing to do – if they are one team – then lets treat them as one team.

So given that Irish Rugby is surely the best example of successful, non coercive all Ireland-ery and North-Southery surely it is time for those in charge in the IRFU to show sensitivity for the complex and sensitive relationships on the island and surely it is also time for those political parties like SF and the SDLP, who argue for more All Ireland institutions, to campaign for change and prove that when they say they want to reach out to Unionists, that they actually mean it?

And while they are at that (I promise this is the last), why don’t they campaign to get Croker open for the benefit of all sports and for the economic well being of the country – after all if it was going to be good enough for the now lost cause of the Maze/Long Kesh/Bobby Bowl to play all types of sport, then it surely should be good enough for Croker?

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  • sammymehaffey

    I hold no torch for Ireland’s call but at least the players should be able to remember the words. Interesting that you think Munster are still the force they were.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    JM,

    “I can’t see the tricolour or the Soldiers’ Song going anywhere, particularly after what the Irish taxpayer has invested in the Avivia Stadium.”

    Not sure arguing we-paid-for-it-so-we-do-as-we-like is the best image to be projecting and anyway Cross border traffic to Dublin is also a factor.

    My faith in Munster remains but the citing of Sammy on top of Mafi’s absence to go along with their injuries means there will be more than a few nerves. Johnny not playing apparently. Squad for Tulon half way down the page.
    http://www.munsterfans.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=27027&PN=0&TPN=5

  • Alan N/ARDS

    JM

    I think you know that the Ulster players and fans are very tolerant of the republics anthem at “home” games. They certainly look embarrassed when it is played but they stand still and do not disrespect it. They are embarrassed to be seen standing for this anthem and flag because of what the republican movement did to many unionists to unite the island of Ireland under their flag and anthem. Did these republicans not end the career of at least one unionist international in a bomb blast.

    Compare the unionist players behaviour to that of fellow international Ronan O’Gara. He meets the sovereign of his unionist team mates and childishly refuses to take his hands out of his pockets when speaking to her. Total disrespect. I have never seen a player from a unionist background being disrespectful to a President of the Irish Republic.

  • Tochais Siorai

    It’s generally accepted that the incident in question was a faux pas rather than a snub, Alan. O Gara comes across as the type of guy who’d have his hands in his pockets meeting the President as well. If he had a problem about meeting the Queen he could have developed a ‘bad cold’ and stayed at home but he didn’t. Are you suggesting that he went all the way from Cork to Hillsborough to make a deliberate snub? Doubt it, especially as he’ll be playing behind a pack which will contain Ulster players (they might even be Unionists!)

  • JR

    “because of what the republican movement did to many unionists to unite the island of Ireland under their flag and anthem.”

    What nonsense, the police force in the republic were very successful in arresting and convicting many republican terrorists. You need to get way from tricolor = southern = Irish = IRA mentality.

    As someone who tolerates being governed by London, living in a state which does not represent me I find it hard to have sympathy for you during the 45 seconds of the national anthem a couple of times a year. Spare a thought for the 750,000 Irish who have to live as British people.

  • JM

    Sammy, I thought your reasons for dumping the Soldiers’ Song was because it was uninspiring to the NI born players – yet you want to replace it with a song that is uninspiring to the whole team now!

    As for Munster – I didn’t claim that they are the force they were – just not quite at the bottom of the ladder of Irish rugby that you seem to think they are. Munster are in a transition period, but have a very good young A team made up of academy players who got to the final of the British & Irish cup last season.

    Alan
    The present lot show great respect for their team mate’s anthem, there is no doubt about that. They seem to have cottoned on to the fact that the tricolour/Soldiers Song belongs to the people of Ireland, not republican paramilitaries. Are you suggesting that the people of Ireland are responsible for what happened to Nigel Carr? At least there were no republican sympathisers allowed into the dressing room, whereas those from the republic of Ireland had to share a dressing room with Davy Tweed and his UVF tattoos in a stadium a mile away from where 33 people were killed and a couple of hundred injured in the Dublin City/Monaghan bombings. Tweed was publicly disrespectful as well, so don’t be claiming the high moral ground on that one.

    As for O’Gara and the Queen – funny the Queen didn’t see it that way – apparently she had the longest chat with O’Gara – probably because he was relaxed. It seems O’Gara got on well with her grandsons when they met on the Lions Tour and there is a photo of Prince William & O’Gara talking/laughing together in a dressing room after a match.

    I’d be pretty sure that O’Gara’s unionist team mates would be well aware of and appreciative of the effort it must have taken for O’Gara to travel from Cork to Belfast to be there to meet the Queen as not all of the Munster players involved in the Grand Slam did make the journey (for the record, not all the Leinster players went either).

  • sammymehaffey

    JM
    Please …….. I have the greatest respect for the Munster team of the last 10 years. I just think they are past their sell by date.
    As for O’Gara he is a wonderful kicker – none better – but as a defensive player he is a big gir’s blouse which is why he hides at 13 when the attacking team have a scrum in his half.
    Also I do apprecieate that he came all the way from Cork to see a bit of aul decency in hillborough castle and I bet he enjoyed it
    Mind you I will never forgive OSullivan for persevering with him in the world cup in France when he played a shocker in every game and there was a very adequate replacement warming the bench….. but I forgot he was from Ulster.
    Even you must have been surprised that he started every game.

  • sammymehaffey

    and dont assume that there are a couple of ulster people on the team that they are Unionists. that is just as insulting to assume that all Catholics are not unionists.

  • sammymehaffey

    sorry dont assume that BECAUSE etc

  • sammymehaffey

    And as for the Soldiers Song I think it has as little relevance to the players on the Irish rugby team than God save the Queen would have. Just watch them moving their mouths trying to pretend that they know the words!

  • Alan N/ARDS

    JM

    The republican movement were responible for what happened to Nigel Carr. There was also allegations made that rogue Gardia were involved.

    If people want the rugby team to represent only the ROI then that’s fair enough. But please be honest about it. If you want it to be truly representive of every kind of irishness(by that I mean not just the republican brand of irishness) then reach out the hand of frienship and respect. Nationalists accuse unionists of not respecting them and their beliefs. It’s our way or no way. There is certainly a lot of truth in that. Not all unionists are like that especially those unionists who are rugby fans. It seem that there are nationalists who are equally prepared to rubbish their neighbours beliefs and impose their brand of irishness on them as well.

  • sammymehaffey

    I rerally dont know where you are coming from.
    I was at the Heineken cup final that Ulster won in – was it 1999 – and Landsdown road and Dublin was filled with Ulster flags. An amazing sight and a totally peaceful sight. All was well until the busses taking the Ulster fans back were attacked by the toerags from that estate in Newry. That is what nationalism/republicanism has done to the youth of Ulster – turned them in to bitter little nasties.

  • sammymehaffey

    Nobody on here has suggested that irish rugby players should only be from the ROI. The IRA have tried to rob Ulster people of their Irishness. They and you will not succeed.

  • This one qualifies as the “most useless” thread for some time.

    Consider:

    A chilly day. You’ve warmed up; but you can feel the muscles stiffening by the second. Lined up for inspection. You’ve spent much of your life preparing for moments like this. You’ve finally got to wear one of those iconic shirts. There are up to 80,000 faces peering at you from around the oval stadium. Millions more are inspecting your follicles on HDTV. You’re about to spend eighty of the next 105 minutes being brutalised, up to and including serious maiming, disfigurement, public surgery and life-threatening injury. There’s some big-wig insisting on shaking your hand and making anodyne remarks.

    And you’re obsessing over a bit of music?

  • Alan N/ARDS

    sammy mehaffy

    If you use the anthem and flag of one part of the island then what’s that saying to the people from the other part.

    I happen to be learning the irish language at the present time, so in a way I’m rediscovering my irishness. The kind of irishness I will not embrace is the kind that rams the tricolour and Soldiers song down my throat. Are you saying that I can’t be irish if I refuse to embrace the tricolour and learn the words to the SS?

    I, like you went along to support the Ulster team in 99. The Dublin people were fantastic. In fact I’m heading to Dublin in a couple in weeks time. I try to get down a couple of times a year. I happen to really love the place. Still doesn’t make me a republican. Still doesn’t make want to be republican irish. I now class myself as Alliance (northern) irish. I have given up on the unionist parties.

  • Alan N/ARDS

    My wife has just informed me that we are going to join the Labour party. Might have to renage on the Alliance.

    Sammy you are right about the provos robbing unionists of their right to call themselves irish. I am old enough to remember the NI matches at Windsor in th early 70’s. The chant from the fans was mainly “Ireland Ireland”. When the troubles really kicked in the “Ireland Ireland” chant stopped. Sad but true.

    Unionists now understand that you cannot force nationalist/republicans to become British. It took a long time for that to sink in. Likewise nationalista/republicans need to realise, that no matter how many time unionists hear the SS and have the tricolour waved in their faces at rugby games they will not embrace that kind of irishness.
    Flags and anthems are divisive. Barry McGuigan knew that. Hence the white flag with dove. I watched the boxing at the Commonwealth games the other day. One of the NI lads who was boxing had his family there. They abviously come from a nationalist background and didn’t feel they could wave the NI flag. They had a homemade banner with shamrocks on it. Fair play to them for going to support their son and brother. I respect their right not to wave a NI flag. At least the anthem will not be contentious for them if their son wins. And hopefully he will.

  • fin

    Alan N/Ards

    “. I have never seen a player from a unionist background being disrespectful to a President of the Irish Republic.”

    Guess they must be like the No.77 bus then, none for ages than a load all at once, cos I recall the entire English team being disrepectful to the Irish President a couple of years ago by standing in the wrong place and then refusing to move to the correct spot – or don’t you consider your fellow British to be Unionists?

    “. I am old enough to remember the NI matches at Windsor in th early 70′s. The chant from the fans was mainly “Ireland Ireland”. When the troubles really kicked in the “Ireland Ireland” chant stopped. Sad but true.”

    Possibly, but it was also at a time when NI was trying to cliam the name ‘Ireland’ and and the people chanting at Windsor Park called the country to the south Eire.

    “Flags and anthems are divisive. Barry McGuigan knew that. Hence the white flag with dove.”

    McGuigan also knew where the money was, you remember a white flag, I remember him in an interview blaming the IRA for the ‘pitchfork murder’ just after HMG admitted it was a British soldier/s who done the crime

    “If you use the anthem and flag of one part of the island then what’s that saying to the people from the other part.”

    Alan, GStQ was the English Anthem in the 1780’s before the Act of Union, and the Union Jack is only relevant to NI due to the fact that NI was once part of Ireland, and the St Patricks Cross bit is total makeyuppy and regardless Unionists ‘feel uncomfortable’ about St Patricks Day anyway, funnily enough you have better representation on the Tricolour

  • William Markfelt

    ‘the idea that the home grown football players on show might be more skilful that their Rugby counterparts, is I’m sure you would agree, completely laughable.’

    I don’t agree.

    Even a Ballymena United player can occasionally ping a 50 yard Beckham like pass. In the meantime, Ulster’s wingers are being bundled into touch. The artistry between football and rugby just doesn’t compare. The last time rugby even approached the jaw-dropping beauty of football was Serge Blanco’s era France, and before that, Barry John’s era Wales. With football, I can find that beauty in some European side every 3-4 years. At international level Spain, Argentina, Holland, Brazil, France, Yugoslavia, even the teutonic efficiency of the Germans have been a joy to behold.

  • lamhdearg

    Thats union flag fin,union jack it is not.

  • sammymehaffey

    Fin
    you are just another thief of my Irishness but you cannot have it !

  • fin

    Lambdearg, common misconception, all flags use to be referred to as Jacks, some centuries ago the Amiralty decided it could be flag or jack

  • fin

    in what way sammy, all I did was point out your current Anthem and national flag has no Irishness attached to it and even the defunct Stormont flag thats coming back into vogue has very little.

    You are more than welcome to your Irishness, however please don’t corrupt or abuse it

  • Republic of Connaught

    They should only fly the flag of the four provinces at any All-Ireland sports team event. And Ulsterwoman Enya should write an anthem about the four provinces because Phil Coulter’s effort was uninspiring for either tradition.

    I do think it’s rude to Protestants who make the effort to go to Dublin to support an All-Ireland rugby team to play the SS or fly the tricolour. I’d sign a petition for it to end.

  • sammymehaffey

    Ards man
    good on you
    Hold on to your irishness dont let the terrorists take it from you
    Like me when on holidays and asked by someone wher you are from you say Ireland never UK in case they think you are english!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Alan N/ARDS,

    “At least the anthem will not be contentious for them if their son wins. ”

    Although not directly comparable how much helathier and inclusive that is. If would be some effort if they come away with 5 golds – suspect it will be 2 or three and It would be interesting to see where they finish up in a boxing league table.

    ps Are the Labour party standing in the Assembly elections, cant see it somehow?

  • JR

    If I remember correctly it was at the roundabout near the Mounre court hotel that the buses were stoned and not by nationalists but by confused youngsters from the nearby protestant unionist estate, the one with all the union flags flying.

    Correct me if I am wrong though.

  • Five days later, and they’re still at it!

    Clearly, for some, this obsession with military bands and banners merely extends Clausewitz : War is nothing but the continuation of policy with other means. For most of us, fortunately, it’s something a bit nobler.

    Now, can someone explain to me why and when the selections of the IRFU became confused with “national” interest? Apart from rugby, does this jingoistic approach apply in any other sport? As an analogy, is a no-score draw at home against Montenegro (population a tad more than Dublin, or Cúige Chonnacht — no gross Anglicisms allowed here, per-leeze!) an indication of ConDem-induced febrility?

  • sammymehaffey

    Sorry you are wrong. It was on the way into Newry on the ring road where it goes close to an estate.
    Isn’t it amazing how didinformation gets spread around.
    I did not say it was nationalists but I think that is a nationalist estate. Or rather a catholic estate. I apologise for assuming that catholics are all nationalists.

  • fin

    Sammy, you and he not alone there are about another 800,000 British people in NI who want to be Irish……..hopefully you’ll get your wish in the near future

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Malcolm,

    “Now, can someone explain to me why and when the selections of the IRFU became confused with “national” interest? ”

    When you have a massively successful ‘product’ such as Irish international Rugby which has support from both political traditions there should be no such confusion and that is precisely the point being made here keep divisive political symbols entrirely out of the equation.

  • fin

    Malcolm, it happened about 5 seconds after people realised how much cash was involved in sport,

  • Ah yes: the sweet scent of moolah. A very conservative attitude. Even the GAA got the whiff and changed the tune.

    Cue the pom-poms and the the leg-show! (Yes: that’s a Saracens home game all right!)

    And, above all, Murdoch rules, OK!

  • JM

    Sammy
    “Please …….. I have the greatest respect for the Munster team of the last 10 years. I just think they are past their sell by date.”

    It depends on what you expect of them. Will Munster be contesting Heineken Cup finals every year? No. Will they make the QFs every year? No (though they have for the last 12 years, unlike the other European giants Toulouse & Leicester).

    “As for O’Gara he is a wonderful kicker – none better – but as a defensive player he is a big gir’s blouse which is why he hides at 13 when the attacking team have a scrum in his half.”

    My guess is that the thinking behind the ‘hiding’ at 13 is to prevent the brains of the team being mushed by 18 stone No. 8s like Jamie Heaslip. Every winning team does that with their outhalf (with the exception of Johnny Wilkinson team and look at his injury record).

    “Also I do apprecieate that he came all the way from Cork to see a bit of aul decency in hillborough castle and I bet he enjoyed it.”

    So there is O’Gara making great efforts to show respect to his team mates tradition and all you do is take pot shots at him. Its pointless trying to do anything for uninionists because all they do is throw it back in your face.

    “Mind you I will never forgive OSullivan for persevering with him in the world cup in France when he played a shocker in every game and there was a very adequate replacement warming the bench….. but I forgot he was from Ulster.
    Even you must have been surprised that he started every game.”

    Paddy Wallace isn’t an ML standard outhalf, let alone international standard. How he could improve things in the last RWC is beyond me because as far as I can remember, all the players with the exception of BOD & Girvan Dempsey were way off their best.

  • Alan N/ARDS

    Two golds so far for the NI boxers. Great stuff. It’s a shame there was no rugby team to cheer on at the games. It’s good to see an all Ireland sports governing body allowing its athletes to compete in the Commonwealth Games. The IRFU need to wise up and give NI rugby players and fans the oppurtunity of watching a rugby team at these games.

    Republic of Connaught

    Hopefully there will come a day when an all inclusive flag and anthem will be used to unite both traditions on the island. Unfortunately there are many on this island who believe that you can unite people around the victors flag. Unionists believed it. Some still do. On the other side of the coin, you have republicans who believe that if a united ireland comes about, unionists will stick their hands up and embrace the tricolour and SS. Maybe these arrogant people (from both sides) who want to show the other side who’s boss, should use the words from the ABBA song “The Winner Takes It All” as their anthem. All together now….

    I don’t want to talk
    About the things we’ve gone through
    Though it’s hurting me
    Now it’s history
    I’ve played all my cards
    And that’s what you’ve done too
    Nothing more to say
    No more ace to play

    The winner takes it all
    The loser standing small
    Beside the victory
    That’s her destiny

    Way to find my flares.

  • JM

    “and dont assume because there are a couple of ulster people on the team that they are Unionists. that is just as insulting to assume that all Catholics are not unionists.”

    I’m well aware that Ulsterman Tommy Bowe isn’t a unionist. Despite his schooling in NI he seems to know the words of the Soldiers Song in Irish. Considering Tom Court’s roots (Limerick) I doubt if he is bothered one way or another and I do believe Isaac Boss attempted to sing the Soldiers Song for his first cap in Dublin (obviously someone hadn’t told him he shouldn’t be joining in with the rest of his team mates from the republic as he played for Ulster)

    So, to cut a long story short – no I don’t assume everyone is unionist on the Ulster team.

    “And as for the Soldiers Song I think it has as little relevance to the players on the Irish rugby team than God save the Queen would have. Just watch them moving their mouths trying to pretend that they know the words!”

    Its pretty obvious that all the players who grew up in the republic know the words of the Soldiers Song. Can I suggest you do a search for Ireland v. England Croke Park anthems before making rubbish statements like that. (Jerry Flannery is the only player who doesn’t sing and thats because he is crying his eyes out). Simon Easterby is another, but he was born and grew up in England.

    Alan N/ARDS

    “The republican movement were responsible for what happened to Nigel Carr. There was also allegations made that rogue Gardia were involved.”

    The MILITANT republican movement has nothing got to do with me or the vast majority of people in the republic of Ireland – just as the actions of the UVF etc. has nothing got to do with the vast majority of unionist people in NI. It was terrible what happened to Nigel Carr, but he was far luckier than the 33 that were killed (not forgetting the 300 injured) in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings by the UVF (+ MI5 Assistance) which Davy Tweed opening supported in a dressing room approx. a mile away from where those bombs were let off. And for the record the rugby players were not the intended targets, they unfortunately got caught up in it. I have heard Trevor Ringland acknowlege how well looked after the NI born players were by the gardai when they were in the republic.

    “If people want the rugby team to represent only the ROI then that’s fair enough.”

    I personally think the team should reflect the GFA and stop this PC nonsense which seems to be be there so unionists can avoid moving on. There are two states on this island and I have no problem with NI unionism being recognised with an anthem and flag along with the Tricolour & Soldiers Song.

    “I was at the Heineken cup final that Ulster won in – was it 1999 – and Landsdown road and Dublin was filled with Ulster flags. An amazing sight and a totally peaceful sight.”

    There are always plenty of Ulster flags in Dublin – particularly in the summer months. I presume you are referring to the NI/Stormont flag. I must say we were a bit ‘surprised’ at the number of flags at the match and it would be fair to say a bit put off by what we would regard as loyalist flags. But it was obvious that the Ulster supporters were only using it as a way to support their team and were not there to intimidate the locals, so I wouldn’t begrudge them flying that flag on that particular occasion.

    What is interesting about Ulster rugby supporters is that they have no problem flying the South African flags (in honour of the SA players) at their games. You won’t see the other provinces flying Kiwi, Aus or SA flags. In fact, the other provinces don’t bother with the tricolour and just stick to their club flags when competing in Europe, whereas there are usually plenty of NI/Stormont flags being flown for Ulster despite 3 counties being in the republic.

    Maybe the flag double standards of Ulster Rugby should be discussed first before tackling the Island emblem issues.

  • JM

    It was SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    “When you have a massively successful ‘product’ such as Irish international Rugby which has support from both political traditions there should be no such confusion and that is precisely the point being made here keep divisive political symbols entrirely out of the equation.”

    But you need meaningful symbols so that supporters can show their support. Otherwise you will end up with your international rugby team something like a successful football club. That might appeal to the British mentality, but it doesn’t appeal to the Irish (both traditions) tribal mentality.

    Alan N/ARDS
    “The IRFU need to wise up and give NI rugby players and fans the oppurtunity of watching a rugby team at these games.”

    Ulster Rugby & their supporters would have had to chose between the Heineken Cup & the Commonwealth Games. I’d say the supporters would prefer the Heineken Cup. And considering Connacht is a shoestring, where do you think the IRFU would find the money to send a team to India?

    “Hopefully there will come a day when an all inclusive flag and anthem will be used to unite both traditions on the island.”

    I’d prefer two flags and two anthems. I’ve enough of the 4 Provinces tea towel effort.

  • JR

    I can see why unionists have a problem with the soldiers song but what exactly is your problem with the tricolor?

  • Before this thread goes to its eternal archiving (please, oh please!), might I make a modest suggestion?

    There is an honourable alternative to Amhrán na bhFiann; and it was used by Irish Olympic teams during the Saorstát. For a real surprise, it’s actually quite a good piece:

    Let Erin remember the days of old,
    Ere her faithless sons betray’d her;
    When Malachi wore the collar of gold,
    Which he won from her proud invader;
    When her kings, with standard of green unfurl’d,
    Led the Red-Branch Knights to danger;
    Ere the emerald gem of the western world
    Was set in the crown of a stranger.

    On Lough Neagh’s bank as the fisherman strays,
    When the clear, cold eve’s declining,
    He sees the round towers of other days
    In the wave beneath him shining;
    Thus shall memory often, in dreams sublime,
    Catch a glimpse of the days that are over;
    Thus, sighing, look through the waves of time
    For the long-faded glories they cover.

    The tune is The Little Red Fox, with a none-too-dusty arrangement by Charles Villiers Stanford.

    Anyone needing a quick reminder should try Tommy Makem’s conflation with The Ministrel Boy.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    JM,

    “But you need meaningful symbols so that supporters can show their support.”

    I agree entirely and the the fact that the team is called Ireland and they wear green more than does the job- if there was international cow herding competition and one of particpating bovine creatures had a green jersey on and a shamrock branded on its arse there would be a big partisan crowd there to cheer it on.

    I think the expression this captures this is ‘pride in putting on the jersey’.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Malcolm Redfellow,

    Fine lyrics indeed. Not sure if there was a Loyalist Paramilitiary grouping called the Red Branch Knights – so might have to be careful with that. I’m afraid ‘The Little Red Fox’ does not ring any bells with me though it does not inspire immediate confidence that it might be even an improvement on Ireland’s call.

  • sammymehaffey

    So why did OSullivan bring PW to the world cup when OGara was playing so badly and not play PW?
    O S is a world class dork

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    “Let Erin Remember” was indeed regardd as the anthem for a very short period in An Saorstát. (Boulavogue was among others that were championed). It was an odd compromise between “Amhrán na bhfian” and “God Save The King” (then still treasured by those who clung to the nonsense that Ireland was just like Canada, Australia etc).
    It was a deliberately grey area and it was RTE which actually grasped the nettle by playing “Amhrán na bhfian” at the end of transmission.
    “Let Erin Remember” was indeed the chosen anthem for the Olympics in 1924. Not used as Ireland didnt win any golds……it might well have been used at a flag raising ceremony in Olympic Village.
    For the Olympics of 1928, the Olympic Council of Ireland sought advice on which anthem to use and was advised “Amhrán na bhfian” which WAS played when Dr Pat O’Callaghan won gold in the Hammer Throw.
    O’Callaghan himself referenced this as the “first time” it had been played as Irelands anthem……but Im not 100% sure on that.
    O’Callaghan was not actually the first to win gold for Ireland. Peter O’Connor went to the 1906 “unofficial” Games thinking he was representing Ireland. But won silver in Long Jump and scaled the flag pole to waved an Erin go Bragh flag as a protest Those black American guys in Mexico were not unique 🙂
    A few days later he won the gold in the triple jump.
    This is recognised by the Olympic Council of Ireland as the firsr gold.

    Unlike the National Flag which has constitutional status, there is no mention of an anthem in any constitution. When I was much younger, northerners tended to substitute the word “Laochra” (warrior) for “Fianna” at the start of the chorus….but I note this has largely died out.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Sammy eile,

    Humph junior gets another run with O’Connor presumably injured. At least a losing bonus point – hopefully .

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/my_club/ulster/9096321.stm

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Ulster’s HC hopes look to be dashed for another year unlesss they can find more cohesion in what is a pretty talented team and they still look some distance behind Leinster and Munser – who both look capable of going all the way.

  • sammymehaffey

    Maybe I was a little premature in saying that Munster and Leinster were past their sell by dayes. They were both magnificent at the weekend.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    sammy eile,

    I tihnk even the most committed Munster fans were worried that the cracks evident in the London Irish game would widen further and were not expecting to get a bounus point never mind 6 tries.

    Compared to Leinster, I think they perhaps lack a little bit of cutting edge but they along with Leinster and Leicester looks the most impressive teams to date. Toulouse and Clermont have stuttered a bit but they have the talent and the squads to go all the way.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    sammymehaffey,

    McLaughlin may be under some pressure if things dont turn round fairly quickly as they look less than the sum of their parts – and that has to be mostly down to the coach.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Weekend Rugby betting tip in the handicapped betting with Patrick Power esquire – pretty much the same with the boul Willie Hill.

    Ireland to win (-2 points)
    Australia to win (-9)
    NZ to win (-12)

    £20 bet returns £139 (£119net)

  • Peter

    “That is what nationalism/republicanism has done to the youth of Ulster?!” Are you talking the almighty piss here fella? Sinn Féin is the biggest party in the 9 counties. As the President of the Republic said, Protestants are brainwashed in a similar manner to those children in the Hitler Youth. It’s all the Loyalists fault; they should stop attempting to rule part of an island that they have no right to rule. They are about to become a minority within a minority and it can’t come soon enough!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    c’mon Ulster