Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Rugby: Fans all around world cheer luck of Irish

As the clock hit 80 minutes, the screaming began.

An ocean and half a continent away, the Irish rugby team had done the previously impossible. They had beaten the world champion All Blacks for the first time in the rival sides' 111-year playing history.

At O'Hagan's Irish Pub in Auckland, Mark Moynihan leapt atop the barstool on which he had anxiously perched and screamed his joy at the final score of 40-29.

The former Cork man was 13,000km away from the action at Soldier Field in Chicago, but that mattered nought.

Moynihan, 47, stood howling and hollering, fist-pumping the air.

"What's this going to do for young lads? Now they have heroes to look up to that beat the All Blacks."

Moynihan's stool teetered slightly but stayed upright. It was more than Moynihan had planned.

With a bike outside, orange juice in his glass and $1600 winnings from a $20 bet on Ireland, he was thinking of his Mangere Bridge home, and a much stiffer brew.

He was far from the only one stunned by his team's triumph, following a dominating performance and never-say-die attitude.

At O'Hagan's, as around the world, Irish fans exploded with joy at their team's unexpected triumph.

The first half opened up the whisper of possibility and then a try by the Irish in the opening minutes of the second half sent a chill through All Black supporters.

"We were ready to go home at half-time," said Tony Giles, 49, of Auckland's North Shore.

"I was texting my wife to come and get us."

With the second half well under way, he was more optimistic.

There was drama, for sure.

Once of Dublin but now of Auckland, Brian Gavin's head sank into his hands, and he peered between fingers to watch the All Blacks tighten the score.

"For a while it looked like the All Blacks were going to come back and break Irish hearts again. How many generations of Irish men have watched the Irish fall to the All Blacks?" Gavin said.

And Giles, who stayed for the second half?

"Ireland fully deserved their victory. They were the better team," he said, before adding quickly: "On the day."

Bring on Dublin.

Ireland fan Mark Moynihan celebrates the win over the All Blacks at O'Hagan's Irish bar, in Auckland. Picture / Dean Purcell
Ireland fan Mark Moynihan celebrates the win over the All Blacks at O'Hagan's Irish bar, in Auckland. Picture / Dean Purcell

What they said on social media

The hashtag #IREvNZL was a top trending topic on Twitter following the surprise defeat, and everyone from comedians, golf stars and former rugby players joined in.

Golfer Rory McIlroy led with an incomprehensible tweet - a jumble of letters followed by exclamation points - summing up how many Ireland fans were feeling.

Speechless.

A spoof account of the Irish President tweeted that Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw should be promoted to vice-president.

Others claimed the win made Ireland unofficial rugby world champions.

It was less fun for All Blacks fans.

One likened the result to when the hero of your favourite movie "dies at the end".

A glum-faced Dan Carter posted a photo of himself next to a grinning Racing 92 teammate, former Ireland first five-eighths Ronan O'Gara.

"Congratulations Ireland. A long time coming but deserved the win tonight. Someone's happy & it's not me."


O'Gara had previously tweeted his wish to be in Chicago.

"Oh to be an Irish rugby player today ...what a feeling ... ye are some warriors ... get up ye boyos ... gutted to be missing the session in Chicago."


Some Kiwis were less sporting.

@nakiwa22 tweeted: "Well done Ireland, enjoy the win. It won't happen again in your lifetime."

How overseas media reacted

The world's media did not put the boot into the All Blacks, instead lauding the Irish for their heroic triumph in a city where sporting dreams are made.

Even the All Blacks' longest-serving critic, Stephen Jones of the London Times, went easy, although he said Ireland had provided a "wondrous service to the wider rugby world".

The Telegraph ran a big picture of beaming Irish players after the game and under the headline of "Emerald Smiles".

The Irish Examiner praised the team for not faltering, as in 2013, but winning in style.

"They did not merely try to hold on to their slender lead and pray to the rugby gods for salvation."

How did the punters fare?

Some, very badly.

A $100,000 bet placed on the All Blacks to remain undefeated in 2016, placed the week before the final Bledisloe Cup match Australia at Eden Park, would've netted $50,000.

Now it's gone.

But one lucky person who bet $10,500 on Ireland to win 35 minutes into the match doubled their money with odds at $2.

With 30 minutes to go, two others put $10,000 on Ireland at $1.27 and $1.25 respectively.

The TAB said 65 per cent of turnover was on New Zealand and 35 per cent, or 1700 bets, on Ireland.

Going into the test in Chicago, the Irish were paying $9 for the win and the All Blacks $1.04.

By halftime the odds had shortened to $2 for the men in black and $1.70 for Ireland. At 70 minutes odds were even at $1.85 each.

- NZ Herald

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