These are the 9 agonising stages of being an Ireland fan
Come on you Boys in Green.
As we look ahead to our crucial match against Moldova, Ireland fans are filled with a plethora of emotions. Whether you're optimistic or not, every last Irish fan will have that feeling of blind hope, the same feeling that we always have, that we might just do it.
Let's take a look at the feelings that every Irish fan will go through today.
Whether you're sitting in an office, in school, a building site, or at home, you will be working out the mathematical importance of Friday night's game, and figuring out exactly what has to happen in every other game for us to get that sacred play-off spot. You'll be picking the team you want to see, and then resigning yourself to the fact that that won't be the team that plays. Either way, you are getting ready for the big night ahead.
2) The chat:
There is no such thing as an awkward silence the day of an Ireland match, because if there ever is, someone is bound to pop up with "Reckon we can do it tonight?" and thus the chat begins. Everybody becomes an expert. You start referring to players by their first names like they're your mates on a Sunday league team. Expect to hear "Long should be starting, he definitely has an hour in him at least" four or five times today.
3) The build-up:
You're watching the pre-match analysis on television, and you may as well be on the panel with Sadlier and the lads. You reply to every statement they make as if they can hear you, with just as much as passion as Eamon Dunphy has when discussing his paramour Wes. It's getting real now. The team news is in. You have your tea/cans at the ready. It's game time.
4) The pre-match nerves:
The players are making their way on to the pitch. You sing the national anthem like your life depended on it. You may as well be playing you are so nervous. You're just short of doing the warm-up with the team from the comfort of your own sitting room. You start to doubt the ability of the team. Do they have what it takes? Do YOU have what it takes? Ref please just start the match for God's sake.
5) The delusion:
Ireland string three or four passes together in the first few minutes and you convince yourself that they are capable of winning the World Cup. Jeff Hendrick plays a delightful through ball and you think to yourself that he could slot right into Real Madrid's midfield, no doubt about it. You start to believe. This is it. We are finally going to do it. This is our year.
6) The reality:
And then we concede. And you remember what we are actually like. And it's not great. You scream at the telly. You wonder why Glenn Whelan won't just carry the ball forward instead of always going back to the fullback every bloody time!? You start to lose hope. You don't stop watching though. You don't stop believing. And why would you?
7) The euphoria:
We score. And there is no feeling like it. It's amazing. It is different to when the club you support scores. There's more to it. It really does feel like there is so much more on the line. A win transforms the country. It lifts the mood of an entire nation. You could feel it in the air during the Euros. This is what a win from the national team can do. It can drive you crazy.
8) The disappointment:
Not always. But mostly. And you can't help but wonder 'what if?' What if we took that chance early on? What if we cleared the ball when we had the chance? What if we played some nice football for a full game maybe?
9) The pride:
But we still clap the players off the pitch. And you will still watch the next game. And you will believe again. And you will celebrate every goal just as hard, and take every loss just as badly. It's why we're so commonly known as the best fans in the world: because every loss cripples us, and every victory means so, so much to us. And we are more than happy to go through these stages every single time. And it's all worth it when we win.