Sunday 26 January 2020

Showing support at home and away

Weird Wide World of Sport

Dave Devereux

I'll have to be honest. I don't feel much like writing a column right now.

I'm not long back from sunny Salou and I just feel like curling up under a heavy tog duvet to protect myself from the bitterness of the Irish 'summer'.

Apart from shivering from the drastic drop in temperature and having to stave off the overwhelming tiredness, I am a whole lot more relaxed than this time last week (well, as relaxed as you could expect to be with a five- and seven-year-old in tow on a holiday).

During our stay the young fella was eyeing up the impressive selection of football jerseys in a market and wondering which team he should support. As I listed them off Arsenal was the one that piqued his interest, simply because it has the word arse in it. That's boys for you. There's no way he'll be encouraged to walk in his daddy's footsteps and follow Swindon Town. If he did that he'll be muttering 'arse' under his breath for a lifetime.

Thankfully when showing loyalty to some teams, there's no need to ponder and the choice is made for you. I always find when you're away from home, even only for a short break, your sense of pride of place is heightened.

So it was with great excitement that the clan and other Wexford folk that we met on our travels gathered to see the Slaneysiders take on Kilkenny in their Leinster hurling championship showdown.

As the Model county men carved out a fully-merited victory, part of me wished I was among the purple and gold clad hordes in the stands, but watching from afar with the evening sun carressing my neck as I imbibed a cool beer or two was certainly a close second.

After a sweet triumph against the Cats we strode happily through the warm night air with our heads held high with chest-swelling pride in our fellow county folk. Us long-suffering Wexford supporters know we have to enjoy the good days because we're well used to the lean times that weigh heavy in our hearts.

After solemnly waving goodbye to the resort on Sunday, I made it home just in time for the Ireland-Austria match, still foolishing donning shorts and a t-shirt despite a climate change that even Donald Trump couldn't deny, and the first-half of that game saw my mood plummet as drastically as my aching body's temperature gauge.

When we flew out on our holiday the previous Sunday we had to suffer a soul-destroying twelve-hour flight delay and became more acquainted than you'd ever want to be with the facilities in Dublin Airport. The Irish team had a similar struggle to get off the ground against a limited Austrian outfit.

The Boys in Green were like a flustered family attempting to get their bearings in the early days of a vacation before finally hitting their stride when the prospect of the homebound journey loomed large in the wing mirror.

The mighty Jonny Walters saved the day with his well-taken equaliser and Ireland could have snatched a late winner but for a couple of questionable calls from the referee. The subsequent draw between Serbia and Wales meant the result didn't look too bad, but in truth it was a missed chance for Ireland to take a stranglehold at the top of the group.

It was obvious how vulnerable Austria were when the Irish went for the jugular in the closing stages, so surely a more attacking line-up from the outset would have reaped rich rewards and left us as warm favourites to progress to Russia.

Speaking of warmth, I think it's time to light the fire.

Next year's summer holiday can't come soon enough.

Wexford People