Reporter: “Do you think the luck of an Irishman got England over the line?”
Eoin Morgan: “We had Allah with us as well. I spoke to Adil (Rashid), he said; ‘Allah was definitely with us’. And I said; ‘we had the rub of the green’. It actually epitomises our team. We’ve got a quite diverse background and cultures and guys grow up in different countries and are at the stage where they are at in their career. To actually find humour in the situation we were in at the time was pretty cool.”
Given the sign of the times, it was pretty cool listening to Eoin Morgan when pressed on his Irish roots in the aftermath of captaining England to a maiden Cricket World Cup at Lords.
Born and raised in Rush, Morgan made no secret of his desire to play Test cricket for England (his mother is English). Speaking to the Sunday Times in 2010, the Dublin native said:
“From the age of 13, I wanted to play cricket for England. I’ve never felt any shame in saying this is what I wanted to do. And the people at home involved in cricket, they were like, ‘fair play, it’s going to be unbelievable if you make it.’ So I’ve never had any shame about this and my father’s never had any shame about it.”
Why should he feel shame? Cricket is a minority sport in Ireland but Morgan is a major player. His dream was always to play Test cricket. Growing up, that wasn’t a possibility with Ireland, we weren’t recognized as a first-class cricket nation nor granted Full Member status until 2017.
To put it bluntly, had Eoin Morgan chose to continue playing with Ireland he would never have fulfilled his potential as a cricketer. It’s as simple as that and given that he’s just lead England to a first-ever World Cup crown, it should be safe to assume that his decision to defect across the water was proven right and justified.
However, when Pundit Arena moved to congratulate the Dubliner on his success, to our surprise, some of the backlash we received regarding Morgan was quite frankly appalling.
Through our social channels, Morgan was branded a snake and a traitor among various other obscenities not worth including in this column. All this abuse thrown at an athlete whose only crime was maximising his potential.
For a country as inclusive as Ireland, that carries a world-renowned reputation for travel, immigration and integration, it’s worrisome to see such hatred thrown at someone born and bred in our capital city just because they chose to play for England.
Because that’s the real issue here isn’t it? England! If he defected to France or Australia sure we’d probably embrace it, no?
How dare he pledge allegiance to England? What an absolute snake and a traitor!
As a northern nationalist, I can’t definitively say I’m free of sectarianism as my belief is that Catholic or Protestant; we are all indoctrinated with some form of sectarianism such is the environment that most of us grew up in.
However, that doesn’t mean I’ve hate in my heart for a half English/half Irish cricket star who chose ‘them’ for the sake of his career.
It’s something that our soccer brethren have been benefitting from since Jack Charlton dismounted the plane at Dublin airport in 1986 and transformed the Republic of Ireland national side into an extremely well-organised and more importantly, winning defacto English ‘B’ team.
And what about our rugby stars, hailing from all corners of the globe who are held up as heroes and bastions of Irishness (sure isn’t Bundee Aki singing The Fields of Athenry class), surely we can’t have it both ways?
You see the problem is when it works in our favour we embrace it but when a decision surrounding nationality goes against us; not only do we become volatile and cruel, we make it about politics.
You only have to look the clientele who’ve pulled on the green jersey on the soccer field; Tony Cascarino, Andy Townsend, Matt Holland & Clinton Morrison to name just a few.
Now, I’m not denying these guys have Irish roots (except for Cascarino) and I’m not claiming English born players don’t feel an affinity to Ireland (Jon Walters & Kevin Kilbane spring to mind) but to deny that we haven’t benefitted from English players claiming a false sense of Irishness is naive.
Basically, when it works for us we’ll take it. We’ll accept someone coming to represent Ireland because it furthers their career but when someone leaves Ireland for the same reason, that automatically gives us a right to brand them a snake and a traitor? Go figure.
What should have happened on Sunday following a monumental day of sport is that we, as a nation, should have been celebrating Eoin Morgan – not just because of England’s win but for that post-match remark about Allah and diversity and culture.
In a time where the leading figures in Britain have been shown up for the absolute imbeciles that they are regarding issues of inclusivity, Ireland and the Irish people should have celebrated this sporting hero as one of our own.
Instead, many turned to the gutter insults and tribal diatribe (that ironically makes them largely the same as those they detest) that has only ever held us back.