Sport | 1 week ago

No place for the faint-hearted.

Tonight is a huge night for Irish football and indeed Irish sport. Yes, the rugby boys pummelled South Africa on Saturday and are one of the very best in the world, but nothing unites the country like the the Irish football team.

Brian O'Driscoll once said, "I think the country gets behind the rugby team but I think it's another level when the football team plays and when we get into European Championships or into the World Cup a couple of times."

My twin sons were born in September of 2002.

Even though I feel like they've been around forever, they've never seen Ireland at the World Cup. They've seen them at a few European Championships, but never the big one. It's kind of surreal to think that the last time we graced the big stage was in 2002, in South Korea/Japan, Saipan, Roy, Spain, penalties, Roy...

Look at James McClean. Utterly vilified for not wearing a poppy, but a man who personifies the spirit and passion of this Irish team.

A man who doesn't wear a poppy on his jersey, but definitely wears his heart on his sleeve. Probably our standout performer during this qualifying campaign and a man who deserves to represent his country on the biggest stage of all.

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Look at Robbie Brady.

A player who will forever be in the folklore of Irish football for that goal in Lille against Italy and his subsequent post-match interview full of emotion and pride. One of our more gifted footballers and another who deserves to be on that plane to Russia.

Some believe it's a cliché to say that the crowd can become the 12th man but, as Peter Schmeichel told us last week, that can be the case.

To all Irish fans lucky enough to have a ticket tonight, you are the privileged ones. You have a duty to every passionate Irish fan out there to get behind the team tonight and roar yourself into a state of laryngitis from the first whistle to the last.

There needs to be a wall of sound at the Aviva. It's going to be tense, it's going to be tight, but the fans have to do their job and hope that the team can do theirs.

Mon Ireland!!!!!

While you're here... Why not watch the latest episode of The JOE Show with special guests Delorentos!


Read more about:

Republic of Ireland, Denmark, 2018 FIFA World Cup