Euro 2012: The Republic of Ireland and other stories

Posted: June 10, 2012 in The Footie


UPDATE:  3-1 to Croatia. Spain next, on Thursday and,  barring a major miracle not seen since the airport up at Knock, it’s not looking too good for the boys. But then it’s unfair to load on their shoulders the weight of our hopes and expectations amid the economic turmoil we’re in. Let’s just hope that they make a better account of themselves against Spain and Croatia so that at least we can say they gave it a lash!

England didn’t too bad against France, though. I was especially impressed with Oxlade-Chamberlain – he played some good football and came across very well in his post-match interview: modest, articulate and intelligent.

Best quote so far:  “I don’t fancy James Milner (pause) as a footballer” (John Giles on RTE2).

Best performances so far: Russia and Ukraine.

Star turn so far: Andriy Sevchenko….there’s life in the old dog yet. First goal against Sweden was superb.

And here’s the Apres Match lads on the implications of our defeat to Croatia (RTE2, 10 June).  Their take on Eamon Dunphy is brilliant!

Ireland v Spain,  7.45pm, Thursday 14 June

As the moment of truth approaches, I find myself torn between hard-headed realism ( “It’s Spain for feck’s sake! We’re going to be played off the park!” ) and irrational optimism, a refusal to accept that, at 9.30 tonight, it will be all over for the Boys in Green. As Eamon Dunphy would say, it’s metaphysics baby!

As I write, Croatia has just scored the equaliser against Italy with just 15 minutes to go, which if it stays that way might not be a result that will favour Ireland even if, by miracle, they either draw with Spain or shock the whole of Europe by taking all three points. If we take something from Spain, we don’t want to meet Italy on Monday night with them needing all three points from that game.

So how will it be tonight? Will it be something like this…

Or will it be more like this…

I suspect the first option and fear the second. But I’m going to watch anyway and if there is a miracle, I’ll get very pissed. What else can you do? I’ll leave you with this Spanish panel’s analysis of the last time the teams met a competitive match – at the World Cup 2002…

Ireland v Spain: The Aftermath

Well, it’s all over barring the shouting at the Italy game on Monday.  As I feared, the game against Spain turned out to be more the Pamploma bull run than a classic bull fight; like when Ireland took Spain all the way to penalties in the second round of the World Cup 2002. Ah! Those were the days!

But Spain and Ireland are very different propositions now than they were ten years ago. Spain now have some of the greatest players in the world, play wonderful football and have little to fear from any  of the other national teams in Euro 2012; while Ireland, alas,  are seriously lacking in talent and creativity. On leading the team to qualification for the finals, Trappatoni talked a lot about loyalty towards the squad that got us thus far – that it would be unfair to drop some of those players for more exciting, creative young talent. Admirable in principle perhaps but is it honest? I think it’s more about sticking to his system of ultra-defensive football, a system that does not require or need creative playmakers. In fact, I don’t think Trapp particularly trusts or likes such players – not on the evidence so far anyway.  Quite how he’s going to lead this current, surely demoralised squad through a very tough World Cup 2014 qualifying group is beyond me.

So it’s a only matter of pride on Monday and the opportunity to at least  have a say on the final outcome of the group. That would be ironic – Ireland and its Italian manager checking out of the championship  and heading to the airport together with Italy. (Is there room on the bus for Michael D., lads?)  But to go home with no points on the board at all would cap a truly miserable experience for squad and fans alike.

I’ll be back after the game against Italy but in the meantime, a message to Ireland from Angela…


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