Chicago Cubs’ joy and an unforgettable moment for Ireland

Sports review of 2016: Green becomes the colour at end of historic week in Windy City

“I’m Jack. Jack McGrath. I’ll be going up against Owen Franks.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

“I’m Jack. Jack McGrath. I’ll be going up against Owen Franks.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Soldier Field, November 5th
Ireland 40 New Zealand 29

O’Hare International, night time, it’s already bottom of the fifth.

Uber driver is stressed, decked from head to toe in Cubs garb, Spanglish cursing while speeding his dishevelled passenger along Interstate 90 towards The Kerryman on North Clark.

“Game Seven, man, you a Cubs fan, right?”

“All my life bro.”

“The Cuban Missile, man, he’s the sh*t!”

“Oh yeah . . . [Google] Aroldis Chapman, totally, the sh*t.”

The Irish rugby press corps – professional moochers one and all – are also Cubbys. In fairness, some have been living this dream since Game Five.

Around midnight champagne is sent to our perch. We accept the gift without seeking a receipt. 108 years. 111 years. The best of times, until a portly woman knocks over a celebrating hack’s glass.

“Sorry . . .”, she says after the smash.

“No worries Ma’am.”

“F**k him,” intervened her towering partner. “Idiot standing on the stairwell got what he deserves.”

Welcome to the Windy City. Go Cubs Go.

The whirl drags us all over. Late nights on Clark and Hubbard, rooftop tangos, early mornings with Steve Hansen. Up to the 17th floor of Trump Towers to hear Joe say it ain’t so.

Jack McGrath mistaken for Rory Best.

“I’m Jack. Jack McGrath. I’ll be going up against Owen Franks. ”

Rays of hope laser from Jack’s steely gaze.

When the presser ends a stately waist-coated gentleman tells us, firmly, to move along. Vultures refuse to scatter far from the quotable carcass. A compromise sees us herded into “Donald’s personal boardroom”. We accept this as truth, overlooking skyscrapers and a blue-dyed river, but mere days before Armageddon crashes down upon these United States this remains the height of political chatter.

Friday passes in a haze. Five million Chicagoans take to the streets from early morning to serenade the people’s champions on their double-decker buses.

Green becomes the primary colour come Saturday morn as the black-clad are enveloped on a summer stroll down Michigan Avenue.

“How many of you b*****ds are there?”

The towering Kiwi admits to not knowing Robbie Henshaw. By sundown, yellow moon, he did.

It ends with the Soldier Field silence punctuated by rhythmic taping as moochers, one and all, earn their corn disseminating truths they know to be self evident.

Low Light: It remains disturbing to even contemplate the passing of Anthony Foley at 42.

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