To anyone watching Ireland-England Sunday on TV, it was patently obvious that the atmosphere at the Aviva Sunday was abject. Balls published a piece on Monday about it, as did the Examiner, so it was obviously also a stark reality for journalists at the match.
Alan Quinlan has offered his own two cents to the discussion today in his weekly Irish Times column. Quinlan too was disappointed by the Ireland supporters - but adds a new first-person element to the criticism: he notes that fans were actually choosing to watch the match by the food kiosks rather than taking their seats in the rain to witness the match unfold.
The worst thing I saw on Sunday, though, came at the start of the second half. I was working for RTÉ Radio and we were on air all the way through half-time. So once we handed back to the commentary team, I took the chance to head off to the toilet.
When I came out to go back to my seat the game was back on and running but I was blown away by what I saw. There were hundreds of people just milling around, standing there having a drink and watching the game on the screens. They weren’t queuing for a pint or for food, they were just standing there looking up at the TV.
I couldn’t believe it. Why would you bother making the effort to go to the stadium if all you were going to do was stand there and watch it on TV?
Ireland were 6-0 down but they were starting to come back. They had won that first scrum penalty and were starting to build a bit of momentum. I found it a totally unreal situation that the game was going on just through the gangway to their right and yet people were in no rush to get back to their seats. Instead they were just chatting away, not a bother on them.
I actually got pretty angry about it. You go to a sporting occasion because of what’s happening on the pitch. In a game like this one, where the tide was against Ireland but they were coming back into it how can you just be casually sipping at a drink or picking away at a bag of chips? Why not bring them to your seat? At least then when something happens, you can be a part of it.
Quinlan refuses the opportunity to put the blame on the players for not entertaining those in attendance and points the blame at fans - 'no bother on them'. His anger is real.
What's become of us as a sports-loving country?