Ireland v Scotland

In a few hours the AVIVA Stadium in Dublin will be the venue for a sporting clash between cousins.

Family duty keeps me here in Donegal and I’m sorry I will not be there.

If Ireland is to have any hope of taking part in France 2016, then they have to win today.

The victory by the Scots in Glasgow last November puts Scotland closer to qualification.

That match last year at Celtic Park gave Planet Fitba a new euphemism for racist abuse “pantomime villain”.

Indeed, the manager of Scotland Gordon Strachan seemed to have prepared the ground for this ‘panto.’

Aiden McGeady’s sporting crime was his country of choice.

Anyone in the media or in positions of authority in Scotland cannot seriously dispute the assertion that there is a history of anti-Irish racist in Unfair Caledonia.

To do so is simply to be in racist denial.

As ever racists always think they are being perfectly reasonable and, of course, there was no mention or Andy Goram or Richard Gough in the qualification issue.

Both are Scots, but the former is English by birth and the latter first saw the light of day in Sweden.

Their place in the dark blue of Scotland was never questioned and I do not think that English people or Swedish people had an issue with it.

Had Aiden spent his summer holidays in the Welsh valleys and turned out in the red of Wales then it would have been no biggie.

Moreover, if he had first saw the light of day in Manchester and declared for Ireland then again the people of England would have accepted his decision.

Yesterday McGeady sat out training with a hamstring problem and this is bad news for Ireland as the Everton player is easily the most creative talent in the green of Ireland.

The marketing slogan of “One Scotland many cultures” is just so much PR pish when the focus comes to people like McGeady and, indeed, your humble correspondent.

If I had been a soccer player I would have made the same decision as Aiden.

Indeed if Scotland were regular attenders at World Cup finals and Ireland was the FIFA equivalent if Sevco then I would still have worn the green.

For me no promise of sporting success could replace what I would have felt as I stood facing the tricolour as Amhrán na bhFiann bounced off the stadium superstructures.

Scotland attended the World Cup Finals in 1974, 1978 and 1982 and my lot were nowhere so I was always a partially disinterested observer.

The country that I grew up in had a pathological dislike of any expressions of Irishness and therefore I had no real deep emotional connection to the place.

I’m glad I’m out of it and that my brood only have experienced Scotland as somewhere you visit cousins in the summer.

A friend recently remarked how different, how more relaxed I am, in Ireland than when he bumps into me in Glasgow.

When I’m on Clydeside I’m just visiting and, in a sense, I was only ever visiting.

When the Genocide Choir at Ibrox exhorted my community to go home to Ireland, but simultaneously derided any expression of Irishness then I know I’m better off here.

That is most certainly the case when I looked at my trio  who are now all growed up  and chilled out Gaeilgoirí.

Of course there is a place for humour in sporting rivalry, but never for racism.

This Paddy Power advert framed it rather nicely.

Indeed it is not the fault of Paddy that fear defeated hope last September in Feart Caledonia.

Project Fear triumphed because some of the locals were rather easily frightened.

The Braveheart costumes and the macho posturing in the AVIVA tonight will not alter that uncomfortable fact.

Anyone who was around the Northern conflict in the 1970s and 1980s will know just how scary those Westminster chaps can get.

It is also worth noting that that the two cities in Scotland that there emphatically for YES have the highest concentrations of people of Irish heritage.

Once they had divested themselves of an inherited grá for the Labour Party it was game on.

The denizens of Dundee and Glasgow do not scare so easily and many of them have Irish names.

The irony is that those in Scotland with a bad dose of anti-Irish racism are also the most opposed to Scotland taking her place among the family of nations.

The only people on this island that was hostile to the idea of Scottish self-determination were those who style themselves to be of the “Ulstur Scotch” tradition.

The rest of us were hugely in favour of Na daoine na hAlban doing the business.

I hope their sporting representatives tonight at the AVIVA have a seriously off day.

However, it is clear that Scotland possesses the better players and they are more likely to qualify than Ireland.

Should the Scots arrive in the land of liberté, égalité, fraternité next year then this French journalist is already ahead of the game.

He interviewed me yesterday for that piece.

Gregory is himself of Polish heritage and he approached the subject with a well-informed open mind on these matters.

I would not have had the same experience with a Scottish journalist, of that I am certain.

Even some folks on the multi-cultural left in Scotland would privately sneer at any expression of Irishness by Scottish born people in 2015.

If the Scots make it to France next year then they go with my best wishes.

However I wouldn’t trade places (or my Irish passport) with any of the garishly garbed ‘army’ from Scotland.

One day, I hope that the Scots will have a secure enough sense of their own identity so that they are not threatened by difference and diversity.

I’m sure they’ll get there in the end and I wish them well in that.

Until then the unsavoury ‘pantomime’ goes on and which blemishes the reputation of an otherwise fair-minded nation.

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