I sat poring over the results and tables in yesterday’s Irish Times Sports Section. It was supper time and Miriam wanted to use the kitchen table.
âHow did Bray do?â? She asked.
âThey weren’t playing, the season is over. There’s the final tableâ?. I said, pointing at the details for the National League.
âBray play in the National League? Then what are those results for; the ones for the Irish League?â?
âThose are the Northern Ireland football resultsâ?, I said.
A look of bafflement crossed Miriam’s face. âThe Irish League is in Northern Ireland?â?
âYesâ?, I said. âAs well as that, the teams in Northern Ireland belong to the Irish Football Association and their cup tournament is called the Irish FA Cupâ?.
âThen what do teams here play in?â?
âThey play in the League of Ireland, (the National League), belong to the Football Association of Ireland, and play in the FAI Cupâ?.
Bafflement was replaced by a look of complete incomprehension. âWhy?â?
âI think it’s historical and I think there are reasons for them being separate, especially the violence, but, being honest, I have no idea how Northern Ireland football became the Irish League, especially when there is a big Loyalist following.â?
I pondered the question further. One Irish League club plays in an area of Belfast where there used to be a big mural on a wall beside the main road declaring to passers by âIrish Outâ?. How did the supporters feel about playing in the Irish League and the Irish Cup? Even though it may have started decades ago as the Irish League, it is a surprise that the anti-Irish vehemence of some of the Loyalists didn’t bring about a name change
Another unanswered question to add to the great list of Miriam’s questions I have failed to answer.
There are so many unanswered questions, like why there is no proper politics in the North or the South; like why Irish Government seeks an amnesty for Irish illegal immigrants in the United States, but treats harshly asylum seekers here; like why some people go to prison for violent crimes while those from a different background are admonished and set free; the list goes on.
Jesus asks questions of those things we take for granted, and even if we can’t answer the questions; there is benefit in at least thinking.
By the way, Bray were seventh in the League of Ireland Premier Division.