24 November 2008

Sticking up for Stephen Ireland

Stephen Ireland has been talking about his self-imposed exile from the Irish national team, revealing that he has received hate mail from Irish fans. Much has been said about 'Grannygate', but the article reminds those who need reminding of the tragic circumstances behind that confused episode.

Amidst the stick and the easy jokes about made-up relatives, it seems to have have been forgotten, or wilfully overlooked, that the whole thing began with Ireland's girlfriend miscarrying while he was away with the national panel. Between the pair of them, they panicked and made a mistake. That's all. It's very difficult for any of us to account for what we might do in such a traumatic situation. Those that have rushed to judge Ireland over the incident in the last year have been neglectful of the facts at best and callous at worst. Whatever truth there is in the rumours of bullying at the hands of some national team-mates about his hair, why would he return to the team to face the unfairly intense media scrutiny that would surely await him?

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