It's okay to criticise Ireland's players for their song choice, they know they've messed up 11 months ago

It's okay to criticise Ireland's players for their song choice, they know they've messed up

As much as many of us wanted the video to be some kind of 'deep fake', the FAI statement confirmed it was real.

Ireland are going to the 2023 World Cup after qualifying for the tournament for the first team in the history of the senior women's team. Next summer, it will be fever pitched excitement across the land and, hopefully, this Ireland song issue will be well behind us.


Having watched the first half of Ireland's World Cup playoff against Scotland, on Tuesday night, my daughter's first question, this morning, was how Vera Pauw's side got on.

"They won," I informed her. "We're going to the World Cup."

She headed off to school today, brimming with excitement and plans to head to Australia to catch it all, next summer. She has an uncle living Down Under, so it is not beyond the realms of possibility, but no promises are being made yet.

While countless school kids will be plotting out how exactly they can get to Australia and New Zealand, next summer, Vera Pauw's players have spent huge chunks of their Wednesday morning press briefings discussing an Irish rebel song that was first written and performed long before most of them were born.


Ireland song Áine O'Gorman and her 11-week-old son James, with Louise Quinn, left, and Katie McCabe during a Republic of Ireland Women media event at the Hilton Hotel in Northern Cross, Dublin. (Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile)

'A massive lapse in judgement'

Chloe Mustaki and Áine O'Gorman were up in front of the press, the morning after the joyous victory before, and had to field questions about the singing of The Wolfe Tones' Celtic Symphony in their dressing room, following the 1-0 win over Scotland.


"Look, we're all really sorry here in Dublin," Mustaki told Sky Sports News. "It was obviously a massive lapse in judgement on our end, you know, lots going on when the final whistle went and we absolutely didn't mean to cause any hurt on our end so we do really apologise for that, absolutely."

My main thought, when I first saw the video of the dressing room song, and players singing 'Ooh, Aah, up the 'RA' was that it must not be real. There is no way, I figured, that players would be belting out a republican anthem together, at Hampden Park, while a teammate went live with footage on social media.

Last night was the greatest night in the history of women's football in Ireland. In a wider scope, it is up there with Jack Charlton (twice) and Mick McCarthy leading the Irish men's team to three World Cups in the space of 12 years.

There is so much to celebrate, and we will, but they players have messed up here.

We should not be afraid of saying that, too. It would reek of double standards if those that disagreed with the song choice gave them a free pass.


Ireland song

Standing on the shoulders of giants

There are occasions when you really consider yourself fortunate to do the job that you do - reporting on sport and big Irish moments, and achievements.

That sense of appreciation washed over me, shortly before midnight, when I logged off after reporting on Vera Pauw, Amber Barrett, Courtney Brosnan, Katie McCabe and a whole clatter of Irish heroes.

The road to the World Cup has taken generations of dedicated, brilliant and selfless women and men, behind the scenes, to get there. They have been a stack of crushing disappointments, close calls and campaigns that were doomed before a ball was ever kicked.


One thought of Emma Byrne, who made 134 appearances for Ireland between 1996 and 2017, as she watched the scenes of celebration, on a reporting beat for Newstalk, at Hampden Park.

'It alienates people from wanting to support them'

Vera Pauw's side have kicked on from all the years of slog, skill and sacrifice that saw Ireland grow into a strong world footballing outfit.

The following are comments from match-winner Amber Barrett, and my mum. Both of them are buzzing.

  • "This is for all the young kids, growing up. Now they have something to dream for, and I'm so happy to be part of this team."
  • "Great win for the women, in the football - hurrah! Great encouragement for the next generation coming up, too."

And then we had the Celtic Symphony video, and the division that comes with singing such an anthem so publicly, and unabashedly.

Many of us that hail from the Republic of Ireland will be well aware of the song, and it will wash over us. For friends, family and colleagues that live in and around Northern Ireland, this story will overshadow the incredible World Cup achievement. A friend sent me the following message:

'It's annoying because up north that's all they will talk about now. And it sort of alienates people from wanting to support them, which is so frustrating.'

The FAI and Vera Pauw were swift to react, and apologise to all that were offended by the video, and the song. The players put up for media duty handed the queries well.

The big shame is that there must be so much focus on the matter, off the back of such a landmark result. Some will say, 'Who cares?', but others would find it deeply offensive to hear a pro-IRA anthem being sung by players representing Ireland on a world stage. To many, the IRA wreaked havoc for decades and brought death to their door-steps.

It is worth noting, though, that the hurlers of Limerick and footballers of Mickey Harte's Tyrone face similar criticism, and questions, when similar dressing room footage of them singing victorious, post-match rebel songs.

Tuesday night was the party, Wednesday morning has been the hangover but next summer, one hopes, will be the most uplifting and extended party possible.

This team of players are capable of delivering many more spell-binding moments, and they will have a nation, and more, behind them.

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