Last night, Cork City FC drew 0-0 against Sweden's Djurgarden to progress on aggregate to the first round of the UEFA Cup. It was an immense performance, far more exciting and confident than any I've seen from an Irish club in Europe lately. You could be forgiven for not knowing though, because every Irish news outlet is more interested with the fact that two teams from the same nearby foreign country will be in the same group for the Champions League.

Don't get me wrong; I've nothing against Irish fans supporting foreign clubs. I do it myself after all (yes, Celtic are a foreign club, their obvious close links to this country notwithstanding). But there is no reason whatsoever that fans of a club in Britain, or wherever, cannot also support their local club. Sure it's not as glamorous, but that doesn't have to make it less exciting; I defy most EPL games to match two of the recent Bohs games I've attended for tension, atmosphere and passion - both on the pitch and in the stands and terraces (yes, terraces, remember them?). The standard of football may be lower but there are still Irish people who support Leeds United and Wolverhampton despite those teams playing in a league that is, by any objective measure, crap. I tend toward thinking that these are just excuses that some Irish people make up in order to justify what is really no more than a (possibly unconscious) expression of the same inferiority complex that nearly wiped out the native language.

So, support your local club, Irish men and women*! It's the patriotic thing to do.

I'm not laying all the blame on the fans, incidentally; I also believe that the football association and the clubs themselves are not doing all they should be to promote the league (I'm speaking here primarily about the 26 County league because I simply don't know enough about the IFA). One thing that particularly annoys me every time a major international competition comes around, such as now, is that there is very little advantage to club supporters in obtaining tickets for Ireland's key matches. While the clubs do get some tickets, there are inevitably a lot of club fans unable to attend these games, while Lansdowne is filled with barstoolers who couldn't even find their way to Tolka Park. I'm not denying that most of these barstoolers are genuine fans of the "national" team, but don't those of us who support Irish football at all levels deserve this sort of thank you? It stands to reason also that the number of club supporters might increase if such a benefit was made available to them - surely it's worth the effort anyway.

I will be thinking about all this tonight from the stands at Dalymount as I watch the Super Bohs take on South Dublin minnows Wayside Celtic in their march toward the FAI Cup Final.

*Note: Special dispensation can be granted to some of our northern comrades, who at least have a good reason not to.

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