Italia 90 was the first time I ever saw a grown man kiss a television.

It was after Niall Quinn squeezed an equaliser past Dutch goalkeeper Hans van Breukelen, the ball squirting into the goal like it had been forced out of a tube.

I was just five and three-quarters but I could feel the sense of relief. It was immense. My father dropped to his knees and pressed his lips against the screen as Quinn lifted his long arms up to the Palermo sky.

Later, when the coast was clear, I gave the telly a kiss as well, just to see what it felt like. There was a lovely crackle of fuzzy static that gave me a little thrill. 

It all comes back the Big Bang of course. Much like Italia 90, it released a mad amount of energy which has been pinging around the universe ever since.

NASA call it 'a cosmic microwave background', and since those old analogue TVs used radio waves, it's said that some of the static you'd see was your TV interpreting microwaves from the Big Bang, a bit of leftover radiation to ruin Blind Date on a Saturday night. 

My memories of the tournament are sparse but vivid. There had been nothing like Italia 90 before so all the usual boundaries of accepted adult behaviour went out the window. Everybody lost the plot.

A few years ago, grainy VHS footage emerged of Balbriggan, my home town, during that summer.

It captures the undistilled joy of the era. More than anything, it was just so much fun.

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There are conga lines through the main street, giddy mothers bouncing red-faced babies on their knees, and local man Mick Moore, God rest him, standing on a car in a green and white Hawaiian skirt with a massive tricolour that billows triumphantly in the air.

Chaos reigns all around him as he stands completely still, slowly waving this huge flag. It's like something from a dream.

Our family missed all those shenanigans because we set up camp in the house for the games but there was no escaping the lunacy of Italia 90. It touched us all.

It changed people too, the tension of it. 

My dad would stretch his back and his quads before games as if he was preparing to mark Roger Milla. Eventually, the nerves consumed him.

By the time Ireland went to penalties against Romania in the last 16, he could no longer bear the drama. He buried his head deeper into the sofa with every Irish spot-kick, contorting his neck to glimpse at each effort before standing up to shake himself out for a few seconds. Then he'd collapse back into the cushions.

When David O'Leary strode forward to take his penalty, the old man could take no more. He went and hid in the bathroom just before the kick was taken. I don't know why, but I went with him.

The rest of the family - brother, sister, mam, and granny - held their nerve. It was their screams which told us the Republic of Ireland were heading for the quarter-finals. 

The beauty of our maiden World Cup journey was the innocence of it. Everyone believed we'd win the thing.

Ireland were in a sweet spot then - they were relative underdogs going in with less pressure on them than the bigger nations, but they were also a formidable side with fine players and a dogged structure.

When Italy ended the dream, there was immense disappointment, but also pride. We went to O'Connell Street to welcome the team home, and the crowds were so big that me and my brother were shoved into a telephone box to stop us being swept away.

They were sacred days.

And at the end of it all you're left with the residue of these amazing memories that cling to your brain, ones that will never leave us - the static in the nation's consciousness after our magical Big Bang.