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Some Irish history

Irish pub, Japanese football time

Talking football

You'd better let them....

For Ireland in the 2002 World Cup, the early local hours of the games created some difficulties.

Some of the games started at 12:30 in the afternoon, which made for some long drinking days. I was probably fortunate to be working then. Some of the games started at 7:30 in the morning, and that was well out of my league.

But to many Irish people, this earlier time was simply in conflict with the long tradition of watching a match in one's pub. Specifically, there was a legal predicament.

Pubs in Ireland are allowed to open at 10:30 a.m., and no sooner.

On the first of June, Ireland would be meeting Cameroon, at 7:30. What would a people do?

The Irish came up with a brilliant idea — they found an existing arcane law, and interpreted it correctly.

"We were dreading having to watch the match at home; it's just not the same." —a delighted fan, Daily Mirror.

In this case, they found that a pub could be allowed to sell alcohol from 7:30 in the morning — but not for consumption on the premises. It would simply be up to the customer to leave the pub — and what? I don't know. The interpretation worked, up to that point, and so I think they just left it at that.

"Technically, outside normal hours, they must keep the shutters down.... "This [exception] is thanks to a little-known law which only a handful of people know about.... "A second existing law will allow all the pubs to serve drinks off the premises from 7:30 a.m."

  — "A source," from Daily Mirror

So, the patrons ate soup and sandwiches and purchased beer to bring off the premises, with the pubs shuttered and the match showing on the television inside.

Ireland and Cameroon drew 1-1.

(Ireland did well in the World Cup, rising to the quarter-finals without their captain, who'd had a last-minute row with the manager [coach] and had gone home to Cork.)