Toppling the chariot — again: A riddle to solve

HURLING and Gaelic football may be our national games but all Irish sports people come together in a particularly high-octane way when the opportunity to up-scuttle our friends and neighbours from across the Irish Sea presents itself.

There is hardly anything we enjoy more than deflating opinions we always — always — regard as at least unfounded, if not wildly self-aggrandising and blinkered. If the adjective “English” precedes those opinions then we regard it as a national duty to prick them.

Saturday was another chariot-toppling festival, one made all the sweeter as Ireland — population 6.4m — prevented England — population 53m — setting a record for consecutive wins against tier-one rugby countries. If the 19 out of 28 Irish wins at Cheltenham last week was the main course then the 13-9 win over grand slam seekers England was a most delightful dessert. England may have questions to answer after Saturday but we still have the eternal riddle to solve — why must our backs be to the wall before we give of our best and what can we do to make giant-slaying a part of our everyday?

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