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Druley: McNally’s aims to be local World Cup ‘headquarters’

ST. CHARLES – Moments after host Brazil concluded its World Cup-opening victory against Croatia on Thursday afternoon, the folks in charge at McNally’s Traditional Irish Pub realized it was 5 o’clock somewhere.

Namely their establishment at 109 W. Main St. in St. Charles.

Music resumed, sports TV consumption was enhanced with squinting and screen crawls and the dinner specials weren’t just a carrot anymore.

For nearly two hours before that, Brazil-Croatia provided the main course, evidenced not just by the moderate gathering of weekday afternoon soccer crazies but perhaps the best bar currency of all: Ownership of the sound system.

Get used to the voice of Ian Darke and his ESPN/ABC soccer commentating brethren, patrons. The 2014 World Cup may be a continent away, but it’s also here.

“World Cup headquarters,” McNally’s general manager Shay Clarke said. “That’s us.”

McNally’s has offered clientele the less mainstream tastes of soccer, rugby and Gaelic football since its December 1998 opening.

Original owner Maurice McNally, like Clarke a native of Ireland, missed his homeland and the pubs that connected citizens who yearned to leave their homes to hash over soccer, politics or other topics of the day.

For the past several seasons, McNally’s has attracted regulars for TV coverage of the top soccer leagues abroad. Naturally, the quadrennial World Cup supersedes those weekend mornings with the English Premiership or time spent rooting for any other worldwide side.

Every four years, those players disperse to represent their countries, prompting Clarke to dust off a few world flags to hang from the ceiling near the main-floor bar.

“We’re familiar with the players, right, so there’ll be a lot of hearts broken during this,” Clarke said.

Clarke likes to think his ticker won’t be among that number. Ireland did not qualify for the 32-team tournament, and, yes, hanging the similarly colored Ivory Coast flag upside down won’t change that.

“Ireland didn’t qualify this year, but it doesn’t really matter,” Clarke said. “Honestly, I’ve always enjoyed the World Cup when I have the whole thing to watch instead of just one team.”

McNally’s will feature several drink and food specials throughout the tournament, which concludes with the championship match July 13.

With the Cup being held in the Western Hemisphere, McNally’s won’t have to worry about opening its doors earlier or later than usual. In the group stage, the earliest matches begin at 11 a.m., when McNally’s opens. The latest group matches kick off at 5 p.m., with one scheduled for 8 p.m.

Also a happening Blackhawks TV hotbed given Maurice McNally’s family ties to late former Chicago Wolves winger Tim Breslin, McNally’s now yields its full attention – and the remote – to the World Cup.

“It’s so exciting,” Clarke said. “For the next month, I’ll live for it.”

Here’s a look at some other World Cup highlights from around Chronicle Country:

• Claddagh Irish Pub, 1702 Commons Drive, Geneva, also will show every World Cup match, with drink specials planned.

• The first 1,500 children age 14 and younger will receive a U.S. men’s national team replica jersey as part of the Cougars’ “World Cup Soccer Night” on June 19. The Cougars host Cedar Rapids at 6:30 p.m. in the first game of the season’s second half.

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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