herald

Thursday 20 June 2019

Time to bring back passion

Ireland need Aviva to become a fortress again

SENSE OF PRIDE: Ireland players (l-r) Jonathan Sexton, Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray during the national anthem prior to the Six Nations match against England at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
SENSE OF PRIDE: Ireland players (l-r) Jonathan Sexton, Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray during the national anthem prior to the Six Nations match against England at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

When the Ireland U20s overturned the England last month, the atmosphere turned Irish Independent Park into a passionate, intimidating place.

In previous years, the miserable weather at Dubarry Park, in the midlands town of Athlone, made for mostly heavy underfoot conditions and dire rugby for almost a decade from 2007 to 2015.

In 2016, the U20s moved to Donnybrook for greater entertainment on the 4G surface and greater engagement in the capital city.

The traction of bodies through turnstiles never really happened and the atmosphere had that 'wait and see' attitude to supporting the young boys in green. This certainly wasn't the case in Cork four weeks ago, when the place was rocking and rolling for the England game.

The deep south attracted heartland rugby followers, those not afraid to show how they feel about their country.

Afterwards, it came through on the grapevine that the English players, the majority holding Premiership experience, were surprised by the public support.

What happened the next day back up in the Aviva? The warning signs were there when thousands of seats remained empty as the Ireland and England lined-up for the anthems.

The corporate crew are often in attendance to survey and monitor, not to express energy and passion.

The Lansdowne 'roar' was a myth, more often than not. Okay, when Ireland were in their pomp in 1982 and 1985 for Triple Crowns, the atmosphere was a real factor.

As professionalism took off in Ireland, it became a money game on and off the field.

The old stadium was torn down and rebuilt as a modern-day 50,000 seat marvel.

The rise in Ireland's standards have come with a rise in costs to keep the players of the Irish provinces and the national team prepared in the manner they have become accustomed to.

It has also raised the pressure to lift income expectations, the IRFU looking to the corporate world for monetary answers.

The pockets are undoubtedly deeper. The passion is more towards the shallow end of the pool.

Ireland needs everyone, on the field and up in the stands alive and kicking in the Aviva next Sunday.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News