I drove past a pub today and saw a DJ going in. It was mid-day, but some people were ready to party. I drove on and thought about some of those days. They were great.
Having got up to witness Ireland's drab win over a poor USA last weekend, I did contemplate not setting the alarm this morning. Then I discovered it was a later kick off, so the old alarm clock didn't get it's bi-yearly sound-out. I used to hate when it violated the ear like no ear should be violated at 5 o' clock of a bitter cold wet November morning. Next job I have, I hope I can work through the night in a quietish place. Maybe in planning or something.
Last week I wrote about how after 4 straight defeats in the run up to the World Cup, the signs didn't look great. After today's win against one of the tournament favourites Australia, whatever voices were heard in the Irish dressing rooms today were heard loud and clear.
When the full time whistle blew Ireland had beaten Australia by 15-6 and if Johnny Sexton had his kicking boots on it could very well have been more. Always the cynic when it comes to sport - being a Gooner and all - I was surprised to be saying to myself with a half an hour to go that we were going to win this. To a man the effort was fantastic. It had it all. Pride, passion and desire. The scrum, the lineout, the pack, it had everything. To see Aussie heads looking dismayed with 20 minutes to go told a story in itself. Gloating would be a very foolish endeavor given the record of Australia in World Sports over the past century, but even Chopper Reid would have a hard time denying the Irish this one.
Although on the other side of the Planet it felt like home in Auckland as 60,000 fans were treated to a game few would have expected Ireland to play more than a supporting role in. Whatever happened during the week was either the luck of the Irish or a carefully orchestrated psychological success from Declan Kidney and his back room team.
I looked at Kidney as the match progressed. He looked a pretty calm man - as great coaches are. But it was the look he wore at the final whistle which gave it away for me. He wore the look of a man who had got what he expected to get from the game. Who would blame the Australians for slightly taking their eye off the ball on this one, given the record going into it. And if that reaching suggestion is the case, then Kidney has pulled a master stroke in a sport where the psychological battle is a huge plus if played right. Whatever measure it was used in science now plays an important role in professional sports. But without men to believe in it, it's never going to work. I think Kidney has those men, many now in the hey-days of great careers which will have them talked fondly about countrywide for many years to come. Unlike soccer, with its overpaid diving fancies of late, rugby offer something a little more I feel to the sports fan these days - well to my generation perhaps. Or maybe that's just myself...
What does victory mean? Australia will now probably play another Southern hemisphere heavyweight, South Africa in the quarter finals, with Ireland, who will be expected to beat Russia and then Italy in their last group game, going the way of France and England on the way to the final. A game at a time Ireland are a match for all on their day. But the question will still be asked if they can now put another four wins on the board to contest the final on the 23rd of October.
It's a more positive draw, when one considers the might of the home based Kiwi's who also have their own critics to answer. Australia can bounce back though they now likely must beat South Africa and the Kiwi's to get there. Who'd bet against them as current Tri-Nation champions? All great champions tick the right boxes when they have too. I just know once again a sport mad writer is dreaming again.
Take this afternoon. Little 40. Boys are back in town, Webb Ellis in hand. Carried through a sea of arms past the Áras and on down the road, they are not dropped until seated at the cabinet table of Dáil Eireann. The present cabinet locked in the Dáil bar - literally - by the Gardai. The army threaten to intervene, but then call it off and as the nation makes its way to the capital for a month long celebration, those hoors over at Shell finally land that pipe on shore. But it's all OK, the boys will be down to sort it out. After the partay.
Then I woke up and Arsenal had been choked for four and i realised reality was more of a nightmare these days... but what's a dreamer without a dream?
Great day to be a Paddy, a Mick and sure, for one day only, let's throw in the politicians as well. Take note ye Masters of Ireland's Fate. What joy such days bring upon the land. That's what life is about. That's what Ireland is about. Sport and Art have been too short changed and for far to long but they both offer much more than any profit will ever bring.
'Tis a proud day to be Irish.
Two years ago Irish Olympic hero, Darren Sutherland died in London. He was one of 527 people who took their own lives in Ireland in 2009. Worldwide 1,000,000 people died through suicide each year. These statistics should not be forgotten. The causes are many, but the subject hidden largely from view. These figures are not acceptable in any decent society. I hope the government of the day remember that come December. We've swept much under those carpets during the years, this problem should not be one of those.