Sport

The time has come to end the prolonged period of national self-examination

98FM
98FM

09:22 7 Jun 2018


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The English language edition of Wikipedia is home to 5,662,439 articles and counting, it averages 600 new articles per day. There is one I read semi-regularly because it never fails to elicit a giggle.

The entry is titled ‘Saipan Incident’ and it runs to over 1,500 words. The punch line comes in a small sidebar high up the article which aims to distill the details. It notes that Saipan was an 'industrial relations dispute' caused by ‘differential perspectives on FAI policy’.

The principle participants are listed as Roy Keane, Mick McCarthy, Bertie Ahern and the whole of Irish society. The outcome as per Wikipedia was the dismissal of Roy Keane and ‘prolonged national self-examination.’

The final line always gives me a giggle because of the absurd accuracy. When the mirror is held up it is almost embarrassing, but it succinctly sums up what Irish sports fans have been doing for the best part of 16 years.

The latest chapter in Irish sporting society’s prolonged national self-examination came on Wednesday when RTÉ announced its line-up for the 2018 World Cup. Former Republic of Ireland international Damien Duff is among the expert panellists.

The Premier League winner has won 100 caps* for his country, he doubtlessly fielded questions on Germany, France, Argentina and Brazil – but when papers hit the newsstands on Thursday one story dominated.

You can hear the frustration in Duff’s voice by just reading his words. He’s bored of Saipan, but much to his despair the nation is not. On Saipan, Duff said: “I’m sad that’s what people reference all the time.

“Any lad now that writes a book, they have to have a chapter on Saipan. It’s embarrassing. For me it was the World Cup, not Saipan.”

“The sideshow didn't bother me. Myself, Robbie, Richie, we were just young, fearless – we didn't give a fuck what was going on.

“Whoever wanted to leave the squad could leave the squad, grand. Meetings, crisis meetings, ‘what are we going to do’...I wasn't listening.

“I was just thinking 'What am I going to do in the first game against Cameroon?' So whether it was Roy, Niall, Steve Staunton, whoever, I just wanted to go and play football.”

The period of prolonged national self-examination shows no signs of ending any time soon, for those with an interest, every conceivable angle has been explored, you've heard every eye witness account. It’s over.

The argument has not become nuanced despite 16 years elapsing. The horse is dead, stop the flogging. The time has come to bring an end to the period of prolonged national self-examination. Mick sent home our best player, that’s it. It’s over. The time is now to move on.

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