THE golden generation of Ireland has sloped from the stage, heads bowed, acknowledging that for them the dream is over, the faint hopes that once were so stirring and exciting gone forever.
Instead ahead lies oblivion and taunts; old injuries bedding in as arthritic joints loom in the not too distant future.
Oh, and the Irish rugby team lost too.
Yes, where once a succession of Marys held the promise of a Celtic Tiger surging forward, bolstered by energy and reckless daring, we now have symbols of an Ireland confused by its identity. Asda shoppers, a disability claimant, a quangocrat, a Eurovison ‘winner’ and pensioners are numbered in the Irish presidential race.
Is this really the best that can represent Ireland? Will Asda be doing deliveries to the presidential palace? Would Mr Norris still be able to claim his disability payments and by now does anyone care?
The Irish presidential campaign promised much in the way of early excitement, with McGuinness and Norris bringing controversy and colour, but so far like the flaccid Irish forward line and the insipid tackling of the Irish rugby team it has faltered into something only the media really, truly care about.
One might almost be tempted to suggest that there is no hope for statesmanship in the wake of race, but this we are sure: it makes Norn Iron tribal politics seem at least a wee bit daring in comparison.