30cm x 30cm
If ever a time symbolised flag-waving, delirious, green white and orange national pride, Italia ’90 was that time.
It all came down to one single glorious moment on a steamy June night in the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa when Packie Bonner saved that penalty and a deafening Une Voce roar erupted, ricocheting through every home and bar across Ireland.
Seconds later when David O’Leary’s winning penalty unleashed tears of unbridled joy Irish tricolours billowed like crazy in the breezeless stands and cascaded from the terraces to seemingly endless choruses of ‘Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé’.
We had made it through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup but we might as well have won and no-one wanted to let that moment go.
Back home, cars catapulted onto the streets of every town and village with horns honking and flags wavering precariously from rolled-down windows. In Donegal an impromptu motorcade, suddenly, impulsively headed for Packie’s home place in the Rosses, where fans danced in the front garden and waved the tricolour.
It was an epic display of patriotic fervour and a defining moment, not just for Irish football but for our sense of identity.
Historian and author, John Dorney describes it as the moment when Irish identity and international football collided.
In his analysis of the era, he concludes that the Irish team’s English manager, Jack Charlton neither knew nor cared about the multiple divisions in Irish society. Likewise, many of the team had been born in England of Irish ancestry and were “a clean slate” without baggage.