Only a Game? Irish v British, I prefer a good movie

Rory McIlroy.
Rory McIlroy.

The amount of time and energy devoted to the whole Rory McIlroy British v Irish story this week has been an insane waste of energy. Who cares? Surely it makes absolutely no difference either way. Frankly, I’d prefer to watch a good movie.

It may come as a surprise to some of those who have struggled to come to terms with McIlroy’s comments, but whether he’s Irish or British, petrol prices will still rise, hangovers will still hurt like hell and a chicken balls special will only ever taste good when drunk. Life will stay the same - it’s not important.

Why is it that everything in this stupid country boils down to flags, religion and surnames? It’s simple, the ‘us against them’ mindset is self-preserving for many but the reason why so many feel it necessary is because of a fear of anything different.

The North of Ireland, Northern Ireland, whatever you want to call it has a troubled history. Everyone knows what I am talking about and if you don’t I suggest you read a book because there’s no way I am going to attempt to condense 800 years of history into one weekly column.

Obviously as a result of aforementioned history it has shaped the way we think but surely we now live in an age where information is available in order for us to take a more balanced view of the world.

In this part of the world, we have a perverse obsession with what school people we have just met attended. There’s also the inevitable brain wracking activity of trying to work out someone’s personality simply by virtue of their surname. Our interest in trying to ascertain whether someone is Catholic or Protestant involves so much art of deduction that it would make the inventor of said art, Sherlock Holmes, look like fumbling four year old.

I have heard grown men spend hours debating Rory McIlroy’s heritage simply because of the way he spells his Christian name.

I have heard the same grown men say that Graeme McDowell must be a Catholic because after winning the U.S. Open in 2010 he flew into City of Derry Airport and referred to it as Derry and not Londonderry. These are the musings of mad men.

Even if McIlroy or McDowell are descendants of King Billy himself, it shouldn’t make a blind bit of difference - surely we can find out more about a person from how they treat others.

If Catholics or Protestants believe that all who share their beliefs or if Irish or British people sincerely feel that all fellow country men are decent human beings by default then they are living in cloud cuckoo land.

I was born and reared in the Bogside but I know for a fact that I have more in common with some people living in places like Karachi, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur than I do with some closer to home.

It’s the same for McIlroy.

So, he said that he has always felt more British and Irish. So what? Where’s the problem?

If that’s how he feels, and feels being the operative word, then people need to respect that and move on.

In an interview with Sportsmail, McIlroy was asked a question about who he would like to represent at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 when golf will be an Olympic sport.

He said: “What makes it such an awful position to be in is I have grown up my whole life playing for Ireland under the Golfing Union of Ireland umbrella.

“But the fact is, I’ve always felt more British than Irish.

“Maybe it was the way I was brought up, I don’t know, but I have always felt more of a connection with the UK than with Ireland.

“And so I have to weigh that up against the fact that I’ve always played for Ireland and so it is tough. Whatever I do, I know my decision is going to upset some people but I just hope the vast majority will understand.”

The fact that McIlroy has even had to say “I just hope the vast majority will understand” makes my blood boil because some of those who are lambasting him for his comments were the very people who welcomed James McClean and Darron Gibson into the Republic of Ireland team, despite both of them having played for Northern Ireland.

It’s a case of what’s good for the goose is good for the gander and I applaud McIlroy for having the courage to speak his mind.

There’s always going to be a certain trivial level of tribalism in sport and that’s fine; it’s part and parcel but only as long as it’s in good fun.

The line becomes drawn when people actually start inciting hatred because of someone’s religious beliefs or nationality.

Some of you might think me a little naive but I think you’re wrong. There are much worse things going on in Derry, in the North of Ireland and the rest of world than Rory McIlroy’s will he, won’t decision over British and Irish nationality. The sooner that those obsessed with the ‘what side of the house are they from’ attitude get a grip and realise that they only get one shot at this life the more peaceful, pleasant and enjoyable this wee part of the world would be.