Only a Game? - Ireland has earned the support of the entire nation

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The Republic of Ireland bandwagon is in full swing! The Boys in Green’s following has quadrupled in recent weeks and all of sudden every corner you turn and street you walk down there they are, Republic of Ireland ‘fans’.

If you think I am about to have a go at what others would call ‘part-time’ supporters then you’d be wrong. The more fans that get behind Giovanni Trapattoni and his team, the better - it’s that simple.

However, the one thing I just can’t stomach when Ireland reach the final stages of a tournament are the fans who are never happy.

I am a life-long Republic of Ireland supporter and one of my earliest memories is of Packie Bonner’s amazing penalty save against Romania in Italia ‘90 - it was magic!

I don’t even want to think how much money I have spent on following the team over the years but with the memories I have I know that it’s been worth every penny.

It’s right that fans question any manager’s team selection and tactics. I am not for one minute saying that in order to be a true Ireland fan you have to have blind faith.

Instead, what I am saying is that in order to have an opinion on who should play where or how talented a player such and such is you have to have all of the facts at hand and be able to back it up.

I have no problem with supporters saying that they don’t think Aiden McGeady is good enough - I really don’t. If nothing else it gives me the chance to indulge in one of my favourite pastimes - discussing things but, when a few beers have been consumed it’s known as arguing.

The issue that I have is that certain people, who have not even watched an Ireland game for the last five years never mind been to the Aviva, are all of a sudden claiming to have been struck with football wisdom and think they know something that the rest of us do not.

I’ve heard grown men say that they think Shay Given (pictured above) is past it and the same people go on to say that Robbie Keane shouldn’t even be playing anymore. It’s hard to stay objective when you hear such idiotic statements. I am all for debate and discussion but to come out with such utter garbage is just ridiculous.

You see, the only way you experience the magic of supporting any football team is by going to or watching the games. The same can be said for Derry City.

The Brandywell is certainly found wanting when it comes to facilities but a 90th minute winner at the Brandywell is no less or no more dramatic than it would it be if it was scored at Old Trafford or Camp Nou.

For me, anyway, the main reason I am a football fan is 99 per cent to do with the people I go to games with, where we stay and what we do and talk about before kick-off.

Being a fan is about trying to find your seat at the Aviva, it’s about paying a ridiculous amount of money for a coffee and a bap at half-time and it’s about getting back to the bar after the game to discuss the result.

Being a fan is not about relentlessly having a go, it’s not about shouting abuse at players in the team and it’s not about sitting at home constantly clicking your tongue each time a certain player makes a poor pass.

Ireland is a country with a tiny population of just over 4.5 million people so the very fact that we are competing against nations such as Spain and Italy is an achievement in itself.

Not every Republic of Ireland fan can get to the games but that doesn’t make them any less important to the team. Like I said, the more fans that get behind the team the better but please just remember that not every opinion has to be negative and why not try actually praising the team for once?

Yes, it’s ok to disagree with the manager. Yes, it’s ok to get frustrated. But fans have to recognise that it has taken so much more than just luck to get to Poland. Let’s give the team the support that they not only deserve but the support they have earned over the last year and a half. Giovanni Trapattoni has made it enjoyable to be an Irish fan again so why not enjoy it? Poznan, here we come!!!