This photo was taken in the late evening, walking south on Sandymount Strand, Dublin. We had just come from Mulligan’s Pub where we watched Ireland tie with Sweden in the first round of Euro 2016. The plastic shopping bag is from Tesco’s and contains comfort food – bags of Tayto Chips (Ireland’s national potato chip) and Cadbury’s chocolate bars.
The chocolate bars in question are Cadbury’s Boost (formerly known as Moro) and Cadbury’s Flake. A Cadbury’s Flake is not really a bar, in that the word ‘bar’ implies solidity, rigidity, the flake is a fragile thing and starts to disintegrate as soon as the package is opened. When Phil Lynnot of Thin Lizzy complained of getting “chocolate stains on his pants” (Dancing in the Moonlight), he was probably eating a Cadbury’s Flake.
There is a feeling of opportunity lost captured in the resigned slope of the shoulders of the people in the photo, Ireland should have won the game against Sweden and at that point faced an uphill battle to reach the next stage of the tournament. In the next game we were thumped 3-0 by Belgium and then needed a win against Italy to make it through. It was looking like the game would end in another tie, when about five minutes from the end, Wes Hoolahan gets the ball inside the Italian half, Robbie Brady, in one of those moments of telepathy that happens between players that have played together for awhile, runs towards the narrow gap between the two Italian center backs which is exactly where Wes puts the ball. Robbie’s head meets the ball and in a flash it’s in the back of the Italian net. The whole Irish nation, scattered across continents like green confetti, jumps from its seat with a collective roar; grown men with beer bellies and heads like bowling balls blub like small children; the Irish players pile on top of Robbie Brady in a tangle of beards, tattoos and expensive haircuts; the Irish manager and assistant manager – two men who would have previously considered a handshake to be excessive intimacy – grapple tearfully like emotional Olympic wrestlers and why not, why not! We are a small country, we have never felt that winning is our birth right, so when we do win, well, catharsis doesn’t begin to describe it.
Take it away, Phil.