Northern Ireland’s sport neuralgia continues…

No, don’t panic, I’m still on holiday. But as a thought to add to this clip from last night’s UTV Live, I passed a bunch of three teenagers the other evening in a Unionist majority town in east Down. Two were wearing sports tops, one Down the other Northern Ireland. Is it time for the rest of us to chill a bit?

  • Cynic2

    Oursuns consortin with themuns? Proof that childer these days has no sense.

  • Cynic2

    PS my son perpetually wears NZ or South African Ruggers and only occasionally an Irish one.

    Why? Because they are totally non-sectarian and therefore more cool than the local varieties. Good on yer lad.

  • Charminator

    “Two were wearing sports tops, one Down the other Northern Ireland. Is it time for the rest of us to chill a bit?”

    Little to disagree with.

    Differing sporting affiliations or preferences shouldn’t prevent friendships. I would have thought that this wasn’t anything new, though perhaps as a phenomenon, the frequency of it is increasing.

  • Charminator

    On a related point, I have attended rugby matches at Ravenhill and I have had Unionists friends who have joined me at Croke Park before. In fact, I suspect it’s actually quite common. There are prominent Gaelic footballers and commentators whose kids are as avid rugby fans, as they are Gaelic football fans. I’m all for freedom of choice for young kids in the North with respect to their sporting preferences and likewise it would be a shame if such preferences interfered with their choice of friends.

  • pippakin

    Its not that people are quietly indifferent to religion or political opinion. Its that some now feel confident enough to be seen to be indifferent. It shows the success of the peace (relative) the north has enjoyed, and confirms the need for it to be maintained.

  • Skinner

    I wore my Northern Ireland shorts to (gaelic) football training the other night. Amazingly I wasn’t kilt dead on the spot

  • Mike the First

    Of course supporting Northern Ireland and supporting Down shouldn’t be seen as mutually exclusive…

  • Neil

    Differing sporting affiliations or preferences shouldn’t prevent friendships. I would have thought that this wasn’t anything new

    It’s not new. I’ve enjoyed many a days casual sectarian banter between my protestant workmates and myself. The same with an Orangeman friend and NI fans. I’ve one Protestant mate who at 30 still gets confused as to whether red white and blue is Republican or Loyalist. He just never cared less. We were passing through Broughshane a few years back and he said, to his credit ‘I hate these wee Republican towns’ noticing the red white and blue kerbs.

    Anyways, the story has been told a hundred times about the wee Protestant/Catholic kids who would be friends all year, then brick each other over the twelfth, and be friends after the sumnmer again. For the most part our community hatred happens at prearranged times and places.

  • BloodThunder

    Good to see.

  • Cynic 2 Your son might be advised not to wear his NZ near any Aussies though as, I gather they aren’t exactly bosum buddies, lol.

  • oracle

    But he was wearing a “Down” top … sure that’s the same as a Norn Iron top is it not?

    It will be after we get our 31 county socialist republic

  • grandimarkey

    I see your game, Oracle!

    Remove the most successful Ulster team from the competition and you have more chance of winning it yourselves.

    You’ll have to do better than that…

  • I dont see the problem either. Good luck to them all. But Id be really impressed if the guy wearing the Down top grew up to vote TUV……..and the wee lad with the Norn Iron top grew up to be a Sinn Féin councillor.

  • Old Mortality

    It would be best if people were never seen wearing these hideous, overpriced confections of nastiest nylon anywhere but a sports pitch.
    It’s rare to see this habit of dress in continental European countries where people are generally more discerning in sartorial matters.

  • Does anyone else think the UTV headline ‘Sports minister avoids Windsor Anthem’ that precedes the video embedded above is missing the point somewhat?

    It’s not hard to see why a lot of people in NI are fixated flags/symbols/icons when sections of the media perpetuates such garbage. How about focusing on the positive for a wee change UTV?

  • JR

    My little brother plays for Down underage and regularly wears a NI top.

  • grandimarkey

    My flatmate had the novel idea of owning a Northern Ireland top with ‘Lennon 1’ on the back.

    However living in Glasgow this was thought to be more of a risk than a statement.

  • orly

    Which town in “east down” would that be?

    Somewhere out the southern end of the peninsula?

  • Mick Fealty


  • RyanAdams

    Wouldn’t suprise me in the slightest.

    All three of my catholic neighbours support (and some attend matches) NI and are avid Down fans, and many protestant homes (including this one) would watch Down matches.

    Sport knows no boundaries.

  • IJP

    Sporting differences?

    I strongly support both Down and Northern Ireland! I see nothing contradictory there.

  • slmccni

    Protestant friends of mine in the Young Unionists attended the recent tyrone match at croke park to support the team from here. Like everything here in NI when its going good we all agree and like it… when times get tough we divide and squabble. Just read there a story on BBC about rory mcilroy leaving his options open as to whether he will represent ireland or great britain at the olympics. For as long as the national team is called GB then i would fully support him representing ireland. rory has made his national feelings known in the past, he is proud to be from NI… NI is not in GB but it is in Ireland. If only they had the bottle to make a UK national team then issues such as this would resolve themselves.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick’s observations about children donning their sporting identities freely is something I can identify with.

    In my own village- with a fairly large catholic majority- the local football club house will be packed on Old Firm match days, with lads wearing both Celtic and Rangers attire in a hassle-free environment.

    I regularly see kids wearing Republic and Northern Ireland shirts walking together through the Main Street.

    As in other areas of life, the kids have got it before their elders.

    Each to their own.

  • orly

    Maybe Ballynahinch then?

    Technically it’s east. Give me the answer Mick 😉

  • barrrymcgee. AND they showed the very same footage on the two successive bulletins, with the vox pops. I don’t recall te meda frenzy over Poots arriving late at a GAA match.

  • grandimarkey


    “Maybe Ballynahinch then?”

    I’m going for Newcastle. It’s a place where I’ve seen a whole heap of varying football (soccer & gaelic) tops.

  • ForkHandles

    “Is it time for the rest of us to chill a bit?”

    Mick, I think you might be getting mixed up a bit between the twisted ranting views from people on slugger and the reality of normal people in the real world.
    “the rest of us” are actually the majority of normal people who couldn’t care less about the things discussed on slugger, and would never really think about such sectarian tribal ranty cobblers. You seem to have viewed some normal people while thinking that the ranty sectarian slugger mindset is the norm. Time for a much longer holiday I think ! 🙂

  • orly


    I believe he said a unionist majority town. Newcastle doesn’t quite fit that bill.

  • Kevin Barry


    ‘Mick, I think you might be getting mixed up a bit between the twisted ranting views from people on slugger and the reality of normal people in the real world.’

    I couldn’t have put it better myself

  • ForkHandles


  • Mick Fealty


    You missed that one? How so?


    I’ll happily affirm a correct guess. 🙂

  • Charminator

    Kilkeel possibly? Although if my geography is at all right, I suspect it’s possibly more south, rather than east Down.

  • Diomedes


  • Sure it wasn’t the latest St Etienne home and away tops Mick?

    The point surely is that Down is Ulster’s most cosmopolitan county; they’ll have also had a Lacoste cardi tied round their waist and will have been sipping a latte macchiato whilst debating the latest fluctuations in the euro/sterling rate.

  • lamhdearg

    holywood is in down and its east of newry.

  • AntrimObserver

    Paddy McCourt was the star of the Northern Ireland game the other night – but did you see a single Celtic top in the crowd?

    Nah, neither did I.

    I saw plenty of Rangers tops, though. Watched a rerun of the whole game. Paused the screen when there was a crowd shot. Nope – not one Celtic top. Strange that, eh? In a town where Celtic have massive support. Here is one their star players, a local boy too, playing for ‘Norn Iron’ – and there’s not a single Celtic top in the crowd. I wonder why?

    Is anyone seriously going to come on here and say it would be safe to wear a Celtic top to Windsor Park? Well? Go ahead and prove me wrong next time. Stick on the green and white ‘Hoops’ and see how long you last. Deal?

    Don’t give me this crap that things have changed. Windsor is still a loyalist, sectarian haven. Wear a Celtic top there and you’d be lucky to survive without serious injury.

    As for the author of this thread, take your deluded head out of your ass. Using events in the bubble that is Co. Down as any kind of barometer of change in N. Ireland is just plain stupid. Ask Margaret Ritchie – she thinks all’s swell with the world.

  • Mike the First

    Down star Marty Clarke (and also I believe his brother John who also plays for Down) were at the Northern Ireland match during the week. Marty’s a big NI fan.

    So let’s not present supporting Down and supporting NI as things that have to be set as opposites.

  • AntrimObserver

    Well, if Marty Clarke was there I’d like to ask him to wear his Down shirt the next time he goes to watch ‘our wee country’.

    I’m sure Marty would have no problem doing that given that, we’re told, it’s all changed at Windsor Park, eh Marty?

  • “Watched a rerun of the whole game. Paused the screen when there was a crowd shot.”

    Solely for the purpose of counting Rangers shirts?

    You’ve got too much time on your hands, seriously.

    Anyhow…. with that kind of analysis, I’m sure you’ll be able to tell me how many Rangers shirts you seen, I’ll accept to the nearest 10.

  • Mick Fealty


    Thanks for that counterpoint.

    Not something Id recommend on a singular freelance basis. Though I’m not sure why people still go to internationals wearing club colours at all. But if it is still part of the culture, could the IFA help create the conditions to make the wearing of Celtic tops widely accepted at NI matches?

    Now, let me introduce you to the idea of yellow red and black cards. I’ve no problem with anyone marking my card, but when it gets to personal abuse you can sling your hook and take that kind of mouthed abuse to where it’s tolerated.


  • PeterBrown

    I suspect there was as many Celtic tops at Windsor as there were Rangers tops at Croke Park – just to be even handed AO

  • George

    Hardly even handed as you are not comparing like with like. There weren’t any Rangers players on show so it would be rather odd for people to don Rangers tops. There weren’t any Celtic tops in Croke Park either for the same reason.

  • PeterBrown

    There aren’t any Man U players on show at Croke Park either but plenty of Man U tops – your point is?

  • lamhdearg

    messi (pat) may sign for liverpool, up side, slower pace of prem and better protection from refs will rise his star even more, down side i hate (hate is such a strong word,quote from) liverpool, and having 2 players from rangers and celtic was/is good fun.

  • I did see coverage of Poots late entry at the GAA match, just not so much concentrated coverage as with the Windsor Park one.

  • andnowwhat

    Jim Wells was on today’s Talkback objecting to the Bryansford
    GAA club doing a charity bag pack in the local ASDA..

    Eammon O’ Neil reveals Jim’s real problem with the club and the history of Jim’s vendetta against it at 43 minutes in to the programme. Apparently Wells objected to the club’s development and even resorted to getting his collegue, the minister for the enviroment, to try and block the development.

  • JR

    Jim is a bigot. He has very little to worry about if the briansford ladies gaa club packing bags for a day.

  • andnowwhat

    Yep and Jim certainly seems to have a personal issue with the Bryansford club and there seems to be some issue in his mind about that bit of land. Wonder why?

  • Comrade_Trotsky

    Mike The First

    Just to be pedantic, John Clarke has left the Down panel.


    I’m gonna guess, Saintfield?

  • Mick Fealty

    Nope CT (sorry for taking so long to get back). You’re not that far out though.