A genuine moment of goosebumps yesterday.
Ireland walloped England at rugby but for once I really didn't mind. Because of redevelopment work at usual rugby venue Lansdowne Road, the game was hosted at Croke Park, scene of the 1920 massacre on Bloody Sunday and still focal point of anti-English sentiment.
Pre-match, there was controversy about whether God Save the Queen could be played in the stadium. Minutes before the anthem, I had some horrible premonitions. These turned out to be quite wrong, as the Irish fans heard it in respectful silence, then applauded. If there can be a pointed round of applause, this was it.
We talk about 'vital' matches and heroic performances, and those who dislike sport scoff at the pomposity. And rightly so, to a degree. In itself, sport is trivial, but this triviality allows it to reflect the important. TV debates and poltical forums are, in the short term anyway, platforms for argument and division. Sporting occasions afford a unique opportunity for populations to unite, to express the sentiment of the majority and the spirit of the age.