Man hugs and tears: Robbie Brady and the Republic of Ireland’s gift to all men

‘If Keane’s enthusiastic cuddle with manager Martin O’Neill showed us anything, it is that absolutely any man can embrace his feelings’

Irish fans serenaded French police before the Italian match in Lille. Video Ray Ryan

 

Would you pay good money to see two grown men kissing? A lot of us would.

There was no need to pay last night as Robbie Brady headed home a winner for the Republic of Ireland, banishing an uninspiring Italy to where they belong (or, the top of Group E, as it is better known).

The Brady Bunch must have had some explosive feelings last night. And if their tears in Lille were anything to go, they are not afraid to let you see grown men cry.

“I’m lost for words really, I’m over the moon, emotional. It’s unbelievable,” Brady said after the match. Earlier, his brothers, Cian and Gareth, had caught the camera’s eye by bawling pitchside after Robbie scored. But that was not before the left back himself had wiped some luscious tears from his eyes.

Maybe Brady and the Republic of Ireland were giving a gift to all the men of the world that will just keep on giving – the gift of letting it all go and showing unbridled, cathartic emotion.

Admittedly, Roy Keane struggled with the new touchy-feeliness of it all when he took Brady in what might only be described as a chokehold after the final whistle, but someone had taken a finger out of the repressed dyke and the tears were flowing.

Sometimes emotion is displayed in fluid ways, though, and if Keane’s enthusiastic cuddle with manager Martin O’Neill showed us anything, it is that absolutely any man can embrace his feelings.

Everyone was getting in touch with their feminine side on Wednesday night, including Brady’s partner Kerrie. The mother of his small daughter, Halle, was man-handled gently from the crowds so she could embrace the Irish goalscorer.

Another woman who played quite a large part in the goal was Brady’s mum, Maria, who was watching back in Dublin. When you’ve been around long enough to watch your son playing for his country, a lot of water has passed under your bridge. “I am, of course, proud as a mother but also an Irish person,” she said name-checking Ray Houghton’s header against England in Stuttgart in Euro’88.

We mothers never forget.

And while Ireland – North and South – annexes Europe (or Euro 2016, as it is more correctly called), England is at the polls, voting, if the Leave campaigners are to be believed, to stop Europe annexing Britain.

Highly contentious

Kudos, then, to the German newspaper Bild, which stated on its front page its willingness to acknowledge that the highly contentious third England goal in the 1966 World Cup final crossed the line – if the UK votes to stay in the European Union.

Many Germans – and a number of other Europeans, it must be said – have always insisted that Geoff Hurst’s effort, which put England 3-2 up against West Germany, didn’t cross the line fully and therefore shouldn’t have counted.

Yet Bild says the hatchet will be buried if the UK votes to stay in the EU. Now that’s cricket.

It all makes you wonder what toys Ireland would have to throw out of the pram to get French national daily Le Monde to dedicate its front page to an apology for Thierry Henry’s handball that dumped Ireland out of World Cup play-offs in 2009?

Now that would bring a tear to Irish fans’ eyes.

Roll on round two.

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