Soldier Field - Former Echo reporter on his new play

 

By Leopold Herter

Fitting in with the current World Cup comes a new play reminding us about one of the most glorious and touching moments in Irish rugby history.

The play, called ‘Soldier Field’, is written and directed by former Echo reporter Patrick McCarry.   

 Johnny Sexton Patrick McCarry compressor

                                                                                                                                                     Johnny Sexton and Patrick McCarry                                                                                                                                               

After moving on from The Echo, Patrick set his work as a sportswriter mainly on rugby.

He also staged several plays at Vicar Street, Sugar Club and Electric Picnic, and published two books in this timespan – ‘The New Breed’ and ‘Stephen Ferris: Man and Ball’.

Working with SportsJOE for five years, Patrick is currently producing ‘House of Rugby’ podcast, that is hosted by former Irish rugby personalities Andrew Trimble, Jerry Flannery and Barry Murphy.

 His play ‘Soldier Field’ will be presented at dlr Mill Theatre in Dundrum from October 30 to November 2.

The story follows six Irish rugby fans and three of their players – Conor Murray, Rob Kearney, and Andrew Trimble – all along the groundwork and the first ever Test win over the superior might called the All Blacks.                                                                                                                                     

Taking place in Chicago, in November 2016 when the cities baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, just won their first World Series for 108 years and what “turned out to be pure crazy”, as Patrick says, the story goes on.                                                                                                                                                          “I was lucky enough to be at Soldier Field,” says the playmaker, looking back at the event.

“It was the final week of the US presidential election and there were all these big rallies going on and protests against Donald Trump down at Trump Tower, where the Irish team were staying.”                                                                                                                                                              

For him the next few days are unforgettable, as the ambitious Irish side faced the world champions from New Zealand, who wanted to keep up its winning streak, which was currently at 18 games. Both sides were “streaming into the city from everywhere”.

Soldier Field Poster B compressor

Patrick still remembers some incredible stories he heard of fans taking a long way to get to Soldier Field from traveling across the states to jetting around the globe.

“You had friends catching up that hadn’t seen each other in years, families reunited, grandparents meeting their grandchildren for the first time, illegal Irish, who can’t get home, finally getting to see friends and family after years apart.”

The witness, of the first Irish win against the All Blacks in 29 games and 111 years, saw the game as a reason for people to reconnect.

As “an excuse to share time together and re-live old stories. Win or lose, those are the moments that people remember, not just the 80 minutes.

But winning sure does add to the feeling that everyone there that day has been part of something special.” Furthermore, Patrick spoke to many of the players, who stood that day on the pitch over the next two and a half years after the match.                                                                                         

The play, that goes on stage on October 30, follows not just the match, but the exploits of Conor Murray, Andrew Trimble and Rob Kearney as they attempt to do, what no other Ireland team could.

Even a couple of moving scenes, about the tragic loss of Munster Coach Anthony Foley, who died just a month before the memorable match, find place in the play.                                                               

With its thrilling drama, its tension-relieving comedy, its pure tremble and dizzy hope moments, as well as its taste of a white-knuckle ride the play intends to swirl you up and taste the sense of big-match euphoria.

For all of the Irish players, that participated at Soldier Field back in 2016, there was the feeling of being part of something special, but most of them would rather win this year’s world cup on November 2.

 For the whole cast and workers of ‘Soldier Field’, as well as Patrick, the hope, that Ireland will still be a part of the tournament when the play opens in Dundrum, is big.

Tickets for ‘Soldier Field’, are available to purchase at the theatre, by calling (01) 296 9340 or by visiting www.milltheatre.ie costing €16 (€14 with a concession).

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