Amhrán na bhFiann at Ibrox 2017

Anytime an Irish person would be mentioned in some far-off land my Mayo grandmother would pipe up with “sure we’re everywhere!”

There is greater awareness now more than ever that the Irish a global nation.

Jack Charlton quickly realised that with the grandparent rule there was a pool of talented footballers in Britain that would qualify for the Republic.

There was much sneering about this including one former Scottish internationalist who was born in Sweden and reared in South Africa.

Mr Richard Gough was never challenged by any Scottish sports journalist on this apparent double standard.

Different rules for the Herrenvolk

Old Rangers were, at one point, unique among the 190 senior clubs in British football in not having had a Republic of Ireland full or Under 21 International players in their first team squad.

Of course, the new club has had no problem in sourcing Irish players like Jon Daly.

It’s a start.

Sadly, anti-Irish racism is still extant within the home crowd at Ibrox.

One day we’ll find a cure.

The experience of English clubs who had an openly racist element among their support in the 1970s and 1980s was that the proliferation of players of colour in the 1990s rather snuffed it out the racial abuse.

I do not think that is a coincidence.

I have written before that Irish international players at Ibrox could have a carcinogenic effect on the racism which specifically defines much of the home crowd there.

Consequently, I was delighted to hear that young Matthew Shiels had received an international call-up.

You can read about it here.

The lad has two grandparents from Donegal.

Therefore, he’s called up to the cause under the same rules that saw Aiden McGeady proudly wear the green of Ireland.

I’m sure he will be bursting with pride as he faces the tricolour to the strains of Amhrán na bhFiann.

When Irish players are the norm in the Sevco first team squad, just like any other club in Britain, then there will be less habitable space for anti-Irish racism at Ibrox.

I hope that lad has a great game.

Come on you boys in green!