After the highs and depressing lows of the encounter in Paris and after listening to Gav's great from the heart pod cast i got thinking about my own love & passion for sport. And instead of ranting on about the details of last night's game I've decided to share with you a few of the moments in sport that have moved me & made me jump for joy or given me a lump in my throat.
Moment 1: Robbie Keane Vs Germany - 5th June 2002 World Cup
Most of the Irish soccer moments blogged about in the build up for the game are included. But Robbie Keane's goal against Germany in the dying seconds was a moment that will stay with me forever. Watching with all my family including uncles, aunts & cousins, as soon as we thought hope was lost, up steps Robbie Keane & the nation goes wild! Mick McCarthy's jaw dropping reaction is priceless. After this game and the win against Saudi Arabi, I donned face paint, a green jersey and Tri colour, with a sign that read Korea and took to the streets of Mullingar hitching a lift to the Far East... Honestly!
Moment 2: Injury Time, Manchester United vs Bayern Munich, 1999 Champions League Final
Back in the day I was a huge Man Utd fan. (Now i'm back to my roots as a Watford fan). The 3 minutes of injury time played that night were special. I remember sitting in my front room with my pal William when Teddy Sheringham knocked in Gigg's effort. The two of us jumped up and actually ran around the house, then the garden outside. We were just settling into the idea of extra team, maybe penalties when Beckham's corner is nodded on by Sheringham for Solskjaer to poke home a winner. Cut to - more running around the garden & mad screaming and shouting. Fantastic stuff.
Moment 3: The National Anthems Ireland vs England. Croke Park 24th February 2007
This was the season when the GAA opened up Croke Park to 'foreign sports'. All the talk during the build up was of God Save the Queen being played in Croker, the scene of a massacre by British troops on Irish GAA fans in 1920. It was a tense build up all week and the atmosphere on the day was a curious one, with small protests being held in Dublin.
I was at the game, standing in Hill 16, made it even more special. There was an eerie silence just before the Anthems roared out, a pause as the Irish President took her seat in the ground. Then the English Anthem was played. It passed off well, and when it was finished, it was met with a large round of applause. Then Amhrán na bhFiann began. As tears rolled down my face, I tried to clear the lump in my throat to join in the singing with the rousing rendition I was being treated to by my fellow Irish Rugby followers. Glancing at the players and you saw exactly what it meant. John Hayes, Jerry Flannery & Paul O' Connell were overwhelmed with emotion. It was one of those 'glad I was there moments'. And after all that passion and emotion, we hammered 'em!
Moment 4: The Munster Haka - Thomond Park, Limerick 18th November 2008.
It is a year to the day nearly since the Rugby world was treated to one of the great matches of the modern day. This game marked the beginning of a truly remarkable year for Irish Rugby. The All Blacks, on there tour of Europe, were shown how passionately the emotionally the game is supported in Munster, & in Limerick in particular.As the teams gathered on either side of the halfway line, the four New Zealanders in the Munster side; Rua Tipoki, Doug Howlett, Jeremy Manning & Lifeimi Mafi, stepped out ahead of their teammates and challenged the All Blacks with their own Haka. The Thomond Park crowd went wild. It was another welling up & lump in the throat moment.
So now, there is just four amazing sporting moments that have moved me to tears. There are many many more. Up there includes the first European cup win for Munster in 2006, Munster beating Saracens in Thomond Park with an injury time try by Keith Wood. (In fact most years Munster provide a few of these for me!) When Damon Hill & Ralph Schumacher finished off 1-2 for Jordan in Belgium in 1998. Or Paul McGinley sinking the putt to win the Ryder cup for Europe, God I could go on!
Last night we nearly had another lift the nation result, but Ireland is unrivalled in its sporting achievements in one sense. This small nation produces special athletes who have a unique bond with the people of this island, and I know that just around the corner is a another iconic moment waiting to happen which will capture or imaginations, lift our spirits & let us cheer once more.