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The Class Of 2022 Have Been Robbed Of A Leaving Cert World Cup

The Class Of 2022 Have Been Robbed Of A Leaving Cert World Cup
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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I can still picture it. June 21, 2018, I’m wearing a Croatia jersey as I sit down for the dreaded listening section of the Leaving Cert music paper. That is, of course, because my priorities are straight, and the World Cup game that night between the Croats and Argentina is the leading cause on my mind.

A friend of mine walks by to take his seat further back in the classroom and, as he walks by, whispers:

“What’s up, Luka Modric?”

The World Cup was our shared relief from the arduous month of exams which we ritualise as a rite of passage in Ireland.

We can all agree that a winter World Cup is against nature. Here is one of the unintended consequences of the Qatar World Cup: truly shocking carry-on has robbed the Class of 2022 of their chance to enjoy England’s inevitable group stage wobble as respite from the Irish aural exam, or the music listening, or the history case studies.

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Every two years a very unique gift is bestowed upon the Leaving Cert students across the country. 

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Whether it be a Euros or a World Cup, the festival of football kicks off right in the middle of the state exams, meaning that students up and down Ireland can, at the very least, look forward to some top quality football when they leave their exams.

Famously, Robbie Keane's equaliser against Germany in the 2002 World Cup occurred midway through English paper one. Thousands of Irish people in their late 30s had their relationship with authority defined by how their exam invigilator handled this news. 

That year, students lobbied to have exam times moved to facilitate supporting their country, but those efforts were rebuffed by the powers-that-be.

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"The World Cup is the vital time in every soccer fan's life and the Irish are known for their fanaticism and patriotism when it comes to sport. It would be nice if the 60,000 or so Leaving Cert students could be part of that," said Union of Secondary Students spokesman Daire Hickey said at the time.

Ireland have only scored 10 World Cup goals in its history. Imagine missing arguably the most famous of those goals in a time before smartphones while writing an English essay.

5 June 2002; Republic of Ireland fans celebrates Robbie Keane's goal against Germany. FIFA World Cup Finals, Group E, Republic of Ireland v Germany, Ibaraki Stadium, Ibaraki, Japan. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
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It's an age-old struggle. In his autobiography, Jason Sherlock says he structured his whole Leaving Cert schedule around the USA 94 fixtures, taking exams in subjects he wasn't strong in because it allowed more time to watch the World Cup. With the wisdom of age, Sherlock admits that completing the Leaving Cert in six days to focus on the World Cup was not advisable. One upshot: he scored a fantastic goal for the Dublin minors that summer that Con Houlihan described as good as anything scored at USA 94.

Ireland's prolonged absence from the World Cup means the tournament is experienced differently by exam takers. This author’s Leaving Cert fell during the last tournament in Russia, and it was a welcome escape from the depths of study.

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The dreaded double day of Leaving Cert History and French was made bearable by the knowledge that the World Cup would be kicking off the next day, and that Portugal v Spain was one of the opening games.

During that music exam, even though I was trying to concentrate on that dreaded unheard listening excerpt, my mind was drawn to wondering what the score was in the ongoing game between Denmark and Australia.

Still raging I missed that cracker of a goal from Christian Eriksen.

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Of course, it has its pitfalls too. I did lose about 4.5 hours of study to watching three full World Cup games that cumulatively produced three goals on one particularly errant day.

But, for the most part, the World Cup not only helps to make the Leaving Cert more bearable - the Leaving Cert almost makes the World Cup more enjoyable.

You crave the study breaks to sneak in another 20 minutes of Brazil v Switzerland.

You eagerly await the post-exam debrief over highlights of Peru v France.

And, most importantly, you look forward to the real crunch time, when the World Cup knockouts start, almost immediately after the bastarding thing is done and you can properly enjoy it.

That is one thing the class of 2022 have been robbed of. The tournament being in winter has robbed those who sat their state exams in June of that hallowed experience of a Leaving Cert World Cup.

However, Junior Cert students - who begin their exams Wednesday amidst a World Cup quadruple header - we feel your pain.

SEE ALSO: Ranking Every Nation's Home Kit At The 2022 FIFA World Cup

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