Is it a fair assumption to say that the Irish follow their national teams and individual sportsmen and women with as much passion and vigour as any other nation on this planet? As the son of a Northern Irish Protestant I would love to say not but the facts are there and they show that those hearty Irish of the beautiful Emerald Island are by far the most supportive and patriotic supporters of those sent out to represent them wholly as a nation!
We (as in “We the English”) follow our national team globally to show our undiminished support to the men and women who wear the St. George’s cross, yet there is – and always will be – an unrelenting tarnish that goes with that support; “We aren’t what we used to be” “Our manager's useless” “Why do we bother?”. The Irish on the other hand will follow their national heroes far and wide, almost with the knowledge that success is well out of reach of their grasp, and show unrelenting, passionate support.
It is the strength in numbers that really highlights the united front of Irish support; Over 20,000 fans flew from Dublin to Poland over the course of the Euro 2012 tournament to bid good luck to the boys in green and to sing their hearts out throughout many lost battles and subsequently the overall loss of the war to get through the group stages of, let alone win, the competition. Did they show reluctance to continue their seemingly unbreakable support for the rest of 2012? Did they hec! This video shows the passion and sportmanship of Irish sports fans - singing till their lungs burnt, even though Spain were wiping the floor with their team on the field.
Katie Taylor not only won gold in the women’s lightweight boxing final during the 2012 London Olympics this year but she also achieved the Legendary status that so many wish for, first brought to light when her Irish support of around 10,000 barmy Irishmen and women lifted the roof off the Excel arena when her arm was raised to the heavens to represent her Olympic victory. I was at the Olympic boxing – no British fighter received that sort of support even in their homeland on their own soil!
It may be argued that the Irish are only capable of achievement in just a handful sports and therefore their support can be large as they don’t have such a wide of success elsewhere - although I think that is just a lot of envious old tosh! The Irish know how to live and how to stand tall for what they are proud of and as they famously sing: “There ain’t no party like a friggin’ Irish party!” It’s undoubtedly true, they are the best at what they do.