Sad Irish cheer on World Cup hopefuls in New York

THE Irish are famous for several things -- for example, Guinness, our banter and a rich cultural heritage. But  something we are infamous for is our endeavors on and off the football field.

November 19, 2009 -- our dream was over before it started. It was that moment that few Irish people will forget, Thierry Henry’s handball that shattered Ireland's 2010 World Cup chances.

Seven months on, World Cup hysteria has well and truly arrived. All around the world people are scrambling out of their beds in the early hours of the morning to support their team.

Fans are starting early and celebrating all night as Kimberly, a server at the South Street Seaport in New York says. "I don't know where they are all coming from! But they just keep coming, all day long."

It's the biggest party in the world, and Ireland is not invited.  But in true camaraderie the Irish in New York are joining in with World Cup fever and are out in force to watch the games.

A quick dip into a few bars in the Big Apple reveals some interesting choices regarding who the Irish are supporting.

In Woodside, Adrian from Tyrone is watching the South Africa and Uruguay game. He is supporting Switzerland.

"I do a lot of work over there and I would like to see them do well. You have to pick someone,” he says.

Originally from Roscommon, Fiona is cheering on Holland.

"I have just always liked that country and for me it's a good enough reason as any to support them,” she feels.

A former international Irish soccer player, Leanne, who originally hails from Co. Meath, is cheering on England.

"My mother would kill me if she knew, but I wouldn't mind seeing them do well. I'm a Manchester United supporter and half the team is playing so it makes sense. If Wayne Rooney is on form then I could see them make the semis."

On the West Side of the city, Dave from Lucan, Co. Dublin is rooting for Spain.

"I like their players. It’s essentially the Barcelona team and I could see them doing well. I'd also like to see Germany do well. It's good to support your neighbors, just not your nearest neighbors for historical reasons!"

Some surprises emerge surrounding the lack of support for the U.S. among the Irish here. The majority of Irish Americans seem to be rooting for their European counterparts, while others are supporting the South American teams.

Rob from Sutton, Co. Dublin is cheering for Argentina. "They play good football and I have Argentinean blood so I’m rooting for them,” he says.

Many Irish remain interested but cannot bring themselves to support any team other than their own. Mike from Leitrim can't justify cheering for another country.

"We're not in it. I couldn't support anyone else. I'll follow the games but I’m not supporting anyone in particular,” he says.

One resonating statement echoed throughout the bars of New York City is Ireland's resistance to France's success. One Irish bar on the West Side is offering free shots to patrons every time someone scores a goal against France.

As the games continue, the tension builds, and people are united in their love of country and football. It's good to know that although the Irish may be not be invited to the party, there is nothing wrong with showing up anyway.

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