Euro 2016: Pub’s optimism drowned by howls of anguish

In Ireland v Sweden game, it was a case of what might have been – or should have been

"It's our best European Championships since 1988," says a man ordering a pint of stout seconds after the final whistle blows. He wasn't wrong and that hard point won against the Swedes was the first on the board since the game against Russia back in 1988, when Germany still had an east and a west.

Like the stout drinker, most people in the absolutely jammed Sinnott’s pub on Dublin’s South King Street were doing their best to be upbeat but they all knew what might have been – and perhaps what should have been.

At the start of the match there was optimism, a whole lot of optimism.

Adam Bruton was in the pub early to secure a seat. It was a good idea as 30 minutes before the 5pm kick-off, there was standing room only and a long queue outside.


As the match started he was confident. “If we get off to a good start we’ll do well. Once they hear the national anthem, they’ll be fired up, wait and see,” he said. “This country changed after Italia 90 and I think the same thing is going to happen now. We’re on the crest of wave and good things are about to happen here. And it will start tonight.”

No pressure then.

The national anthem started and the first really big cheer of the evening came when President Michael D Higgins appeared on the giant screen singing along.

Table for six?

At the door, bar manager

Brendan Withero

was policing things carefully. A group of six tourists came in. “Could we have a table for six people?” one of them asked.

Withero looked at them, certain they were joking. They weren’t. “Ah, it’s a free-for-all this evening,” he told them. “Just settle in beside some green shirts and you’ll be grand.”

After a confused wander around, they decided their chances of getting something to eat were slim and they left, allowing six more people to replace them.

Isabele Haile and Emma Stendahl stood out like sore thumbs. They were the only two Swedish women in the pub. "Oh no, it is not at all scary to be here," Stendahl said. "It is very exciting. The Irish are so friendly. Come back to us at full time. Hopefully we won't be crying."

First there was the chance for Jeff Hendrick. The crowd went wild. Then there was John O'Shea's near miss. "A glorious chance," said George Hamilton.

Hendrick hit the post. The howls of anguish were as abject as an Edvard Munch painting. Unlike a Munch painting, they were immediately followed by a sustained round of Come On You Boys In Green.

Half time. "It's my second day as a teacher in Irish college," said a man in the queue for the toilets. "I don't think I'll be able to make it in for my third day if Ireland win."

Wes Hoolahan scored. There were no words, just a primal scream. Everyone tensed then. A man tried to start a new round of Come On You Boys In Green but no one was having it. People were too busy biting their nails. The nervousness seemed to travel through the television screen to the Stade de France.

Deafening silence

Ciaran Clark scored. For


. There were no words, just a deafening silence eventually broken by a collective “f**k”. In the minutes that followed, there was more swearing than you’d find in Roddy Doyle’s collected works.

“Hit the ******* *****.”

“Whack the ******.”

“Oh for ***** sake.”

Almost all the expletives are aimed at Zlatan Ibrahimovic. “Chance here for Ibrahimovic,” roars George Hamilton. “F**k off,” roars Sinnott’s.

The final whistle. The pub was upbeat. So was Bruton who had, just 90 minutes earlier, invested Ireland’s economic wellbeing into the game.

"We should have won," he said, "but do you know what? We'll take the draw – and we can easily beat Italy. The nerves are out of the way now."

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast