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Dublin: 14°C Sunday 9 May 2021

'Hearing God Save the Queen at Croke Park was surreal': Fans relive supporting Ireland v England in the Six Nations

We remember matches against the old enemy in the final instalment of our ‘Hear The Roar’ series with William Hill.

RUGBY INTERNATIONALS BETWEEN Ireland and England tend to throw up great memories from yesteryear. 

The rivals meet at the Aviva Stadium this Saturday, but unfortunately it will be in front of empty stands with little to play for. 

In the final part of The42′s ‘Hear The Roar’ series with William Hill — our Six Nations coverage sponsor — Ireland fans share their favourite stories of attending major matches against the old enemy.  

The Three Bishops – Aidan O’Donnell

aidan-odonnell-cathel-quinlivan-and-kevin-hayes Aidan O'Donnell, Cathal Quinlivan and Kevin Hayes. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

My story is based on the photo above.

From left to right: Me, Cathal Quinlivan (who runs O’Brien’s bar on Leeson Street – a great pub for home internationals) and Kevin “Chunky” Hayes.

We’re all Portumna men and are known more for our hurling than rugby but we love the away trips for the Six Nations.

On St Patrick’s Day in 2018, we went over to London and got to chat to some great people before the game, including Peter O’Mahony’s father and brother. Everyone was in top form despite the fact that it was extremely cold. There isn’t much heat in those bishop’s outfits either!

That particular day also saw one member of our travelling party who could not secure a ticket (he will remain nameless) gain access to Twickenham by jumping over a turnstile while stewards were distracted as the England team bus arrived. His seat for the game had a “reserved for doctor” sign on it. True story, tickets were scarce.

Bumping Into The Raging Potato – Finn Toner

It was 2008 and Ireland were still the nearly men as the Grand Slam monkey was still on our backs.

Through a series of “creative” appointments, we managed to engineer two Irishmen into committee positions for an Oxford college rugby team — and were therefore first in line when the RFU made tickets available for clubs in England.

With our token English friend — dressed as St. George, us as obligatory leprechauns — we hopped on the train for the first time to Twickenham, where we were interviewed for Canadian television.

Anyway, on to the game. We had brilliant seats, and the perfect start as Ireland went 10-0 up. We were thinking “what’s all the chat about this Danny Cipriani fella?”.

shane-horgan-tackled-by-danny-cipriani Shane Horgan is tackled by Danny Cipriani in 2008. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Well, he went on to kick 18 points and win man of the match in a demoralising 33-10 defeat. The BBC news report concluded that “the future did not look so good for Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan”. Little did they know. 

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly meeting the “Raging Potato”, Keith Wood himself, outside the ground where we chatted for 10 minutes. An absolute gent. Meeting him was probably my best memory of Twickenham as I’ve never seen any team I’ve supported win there — be it Oxford, Ulster or Ireland — in 10 visits.

A Chance Meeting – John Kirwan

It is very easy to pick my stand-out memory from this fixture. 20 March, 1993 — Ireland played England at home and went into the game as the underdog.

Tickets were like hen’s teeth but I managed to acquire one for the South Terrace the night before the match. Ireland beat England 17-3 with Shannon man Mick Galwey putting in a late try driving the crowd into a frenzy. Afterwards, I went to meet a few friends in Larry Murphy’s pub on Baggot Street.

Instead, I ended up meeting a beautiful Limerick woman and married her the following year. 27 years and four kids later, we’re living happily ever after.

Worth The Effort – Sharon & Steve Ivers

general-view-croke-park-from-hill-16 A view from Hill 16 at Croke Park during Ireland v England in 2007. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Myself and my husband have a very distinct memory of going to see Ireland v England in 2007, the very first time they met at Croke Park.

My husband was actually on crutches at the time, as he sprained his ankle badly while playing with his own rugby team in Cavan. We drove up and had to park quite a distance away from the stadium but that did not deter us from getting to the game. He ploughed through the crowds, up the streets until we eventually reached the ground.

The sound of ‘God Save the Queen’ echoed around Croke Park and it was one of those surreal moments that we will never forget.

Ireland absolutely hammered England that day. Ronan O’Gara’s cross-field kick to Shane Horgan, which saw him leap over the line for a try was the highlight. 

All in all, the effort to get my husband there was worth while and he’d do it all over again if he had to.

Birthday Celebrations – Kathy Timmons

My best memory of an Ireland-England match was 20 March, 1993 at Lansdowne Road.

Myself and my friend not only share a passion for rugby but also share a birthday. We were thrilled to get tickets to the match. We produced our schoolboy tickets at the entrance and got to see Ireland beat England 17-3.

What makes it special? We were celebrating our 30th birthdays!

A Cold One – Kenneth O’Connor

I managed to get a ticket for the infamous 2018 Grand Slam match. As you can appreciate my reaction was, in my family, as infamous as the game itself.

After arriving at Twickenham, I waited with great anticipation in the “balmy” London weather. It was so bitter your beer was colder by the end of the pint than when you bought it.

We entered the stadium and took our place, where we were met by a swirling wind accompanied by snow. As we were uncovered, we got it right in the face.

irelands-team-celebrate-on-the-champions-board The Irish celebrating their Grand Slam win in 2018. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Then the players came out and all the misery and cold was replaced with excitement. When Tadhg Furlong dummied and CJ Stander bursted through the space, every Irish fan roared with anticipation and the stadium erupted as we scored.

The celebrations afterwards — with the team on the pitch — were very special.

We only realised that our hats, scarves and coats were completely frozen as we walked back to the train with a smile on our faces. Pure joy.

It’s moments like that we live to support such a great team, who give us so much and at a great sacrifice.

William Hill are sponsoring The42′s Six Nations coverage this year. New online customers get €30 in free bets when they bet €10 with William Hill. Just use the promo code H30. For all the latest prices, visit williamhill.com. 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see gamblingtherapy.org. 

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