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Why I Believe This Will Be Ireland's Best Ever Sporting Weekend

Why I Believe This Will Be Ireland's Best Ever Sporting Weekend
By Conor O'Leary
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Last weekend was a humbling experience as an Irish sports fan.

On any given weekend, having your qualifying chances blown apart by losing to Belgium would count as a bad day. But when it's followed by the rugby team's capitulation to South Africa when they were staring at history; and Lowry's final round woes ahed of his first major title, the mood was understandably glum on Monday morning.

Next Monday 27th June will be as painful. But for a completely different reason.

I am supremely confident that the best Irish sporting weekend ever is on the horizon.

Sure there are reasons to be pessimistic - all of Ireland's national teams on show this weekend are heavy underdogs. Martin O'Neill's men are priced at 8/1 to beat hosts France after an emotional victory over Italy, the rugby teams are both eight point underdogs, and even Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland are 4/1 shots against Wales.


But I'm confident that there will be reason for celebration this weekend.

The Republic of Ireland have nothing to fear against France on Sunday. The hosts have all the pressure, and a history of crumbling under it. Yes, they will be more refreshed after a few days rest - but are they any great shakes? Pogba and Payet have been very good for the hosts, but it looks like Deschamps doesn't know his best team. There's a big opportunity for Ireland to do something special here.


It would be after Joe Schmidt's boys claim a test series against South Africa. Speaking of no great shakes - the Boks are looking very mediocre right now. They couldn't win against 14 men, and needed the altitude to tire out Ireland before they could get anything going. Schmidt's tactics are too smart, Ireland's players too hungry, and South Africa are too cocky. Of all the games this weekend, Ireland beating South Africa is the one I'm most confident of.

Which brings us to Nigel Carolan's U20s. It may not be important to some, but how often are Ireland in a World Cup final? Carolan has done wonders with this side, getting the very best out of them - and bringing them from mediocre displays in the Six Nations to this fantastic run to the final. His methods have empowered the players, and they don't look fazed at all. Even when they were 17 points down to Wales. Or when New Zealand came back at them, or at the semi-final stage that has spooked many Irish players before.

We're heavy underdogs in all three games, but would it be shocking if Ireland claimed wins in any of them? Best wishes also for a number of Irish athletes attempting to qualify for the Olympics this weekend too.


Make it one to remember.

See Also: The Sad Science Behind A Cataclysmically Shit Irish Sporting Weekend

Photos by Sportsfile

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