Protestant soccer mob kills Catholic man: Click here

An article in Tuesday’s Irish Daily Star caught the eye ahead of a flying visit to London and some engagements with the national soccer team in the build-up to Friday night’s game against Nigeria and next week’s World Cup clash in Bulgaria.

According to my esteemed daily colleagues -- i.e., those who work downstairs in Star headquarters -- Irish people moan for an average of nine and a half hours a week.

Now there’s an idea for a movie. Mickey Rourke may have starred in the great 9 1/2 Weeks, but I reckon I’d do a brilliant job in the lead role for 9 1/2 Half Hours a Week – the Movie.

Those who know me, or those who acknowledge they know me, will tell you than I can indeed moan for Ireland. Mention any subject from soccer to cricket and I’ll manage to raise a moan, often before I’ll even raise a smile.

It is, after all, a national past-time. We are the nation who can find the bad in anything good, the questionable in the laudable and the downright outrageous in the brilliant.

Now approaching my 30th year behind a typewriter -- I’m old enough to have used one -- or a computer, I have a master’s degree in cynicism and a higher diploma in criticism.

If anything, I’d say I could moan for more than 9 1/2 hours in an average week. I could probably even give Rourke a run for his money and moan for weeks and weeks -- though not the sort of moans Mickey inspired in Kim Bassinger back in 1986 when I was still covering junior hurling matches in the Royal County of Meath.

So let’s put this theory to the test. What can I moan about this week in the hallowed pages of the Irish Voice?

I’m going to start with a bad news story. On the same Tuesday morning that I came across the story about our national penchant for moaning, I listened intently to a report from the North on Morning Ireland, that well known RTE Radio breakfast show.

The story was horrific, concerning the death of a 49-year-old Catholic by the name of Kevin McDaid in the town of Coleraine on Sunday evening.

Kevin’s sin, according to the nine Loyalist thugs who literally beat him to death, was to be a Catholic and a Celtic fan on the day their beloved Rangers won the Scottish League title.

A gang of up to 40 had arrived in McDaid’s part of town looking for Fenian blood and, like the Billy Boys they love to sing about at Ibrox, they got their wish.

Listening to the accounts of what happened to McDaid, his wife Evelyn and another woman on the scene, who happened to be pregnant -- not that it mattered to those who continually beat her with baseball bats among other things -- was horrific.

It made me almost ashamed to be Irish. It made me almost ashamed to love the game of association football with a passion.

It made me question the value of sport when support for a team of one particular persuasion could lead to a man’s death.

I could sit here in front of this Dell laptop and moan now about Andy Reid’s continued absence from the Giovanni Trapattoni Ireland squad that will play Nigeria on Friday and Bulgaria on Saturday, June 6.

I could bemoan the fact that Stephen Ireland continues to put his own stupidity before the needs of his country’s national football team.

I could go on and on about the poor standard of football on offer when Derry beat Monaghan in the first round of the Ulster Championship on Sunday, and the disgraceful scenes caught on camera during the game.

I could even moan about the continual pain in my left knee that refuses to go away and is now seriously impairing my love for golf, so much so that I’m booked in for a replacement knee operation next month.

As I say, I could moan and moan and moan for as long as you’re prepared to stick by me, but what’s the point? How can I moan about anything when a 49-year-old father is lying dead in a Coleraine morgue simply because he was a Catholic and a Celtic fan?

What value has football when it can be used as a vehicle for hatred and murder? What value has sport when it can cost a man his life?

Yes, we can moan for hours on end in Ireland, but moaning won’t bring Ken McDaid back to life. And it won’t make any difference to the Rangers idiots who will always allow sectarianism to rule their sporting hearts when it comes to Old Firm loyalty.

Sport doesn’t deserve them and they don’t deserve sport. Hanging would be a better alternative for those who took Kevin McDaid’s life as some sort of symbolic gesture on the day “their” team won the Scottish League title.

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