So there you have it. Being an Irish sports supporter is probably more emotional than a teenaged girl watching the notebook. It is just a rollercoaster that makes me wonder, should I just blackout all sport from my life. Just for the sake of my heart and my Guinness intake?
We got through Saturday with a really good rugby performance against an undercooked and scared South Africa team. We went to Copenhagen and scraped a boring 0-0 draw against a Danish side that were just waiting for the smallest of chances. They didn’t get any in Copenhagen, would they get more here in Dublin?
In short, Yes!
To put my cards on the table here, I am not a football man. I don’t like the game; I think it has gone from positive play, trying to score to trying to draw the foul or the card for the opposition. There are no enforcers anymore; there are no Shearer/Fowler types anymore. Footballers mostly appear to be unwilling to take responsibility on a pitch. They are scared of failure, scared of taking a chance and because of this; the game has become as exciting as university challenge. I say that because there are some people who get excited at UC but most just switch to babestation.
Ireland took to the pitch and started at a decent pace. Early goal resulted along with another couple of chances that appeared to show a team doing the opposite of their history. It was actually great to see, the crowd was in full force too. And then the Danes scored. Immediately we shrank like I do when I get out of the shower. Ireland fell back and the Danes scored a peach of a goal. 2-1 down very quickly. Now the options are, go for the game stay in it a force the Danes into a mistake. Or stay back, limit any further concessions and just be happy with 2-1.
Ireland did the latter and I shouted at my TV for the remainder of the game. For me, whether it is 2-1 or 10-1 it doesn’t matter in a playoff second leg, it is a loss. There is no saving face by keeping it down to a 1 goal deficit. I think the manager thought the same and made some changes at half time. He brought on 2 attacking players in place of midfield defenders (names not important); he was trying to win the game. He was saying to his team, ‘here you go lads; I want you to go for it’. They didn’t. Denmark attacked in waves and the Irish lads just didn’t have bottle, skill or interest in attacking the game.
We know the skill deficit is there, so it needs to be bridged. Determination would be a good start. A professional cannot be scared of an occasion; if they are then they are not professional. Katie Taylor won her first world professional title a few weeks back, I am sure she had butterflies going in but she knew she wouldn’t win by being defensive. And that is boxing, a game where one wrong move means massive danger. This is football, the players ran around like headless chickens without actually doing anything.
Listen, if they were scared of going to a world cup, then they will never get there. End of!
The backlash today is against the managers, Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane, 2 proven winners with experience of playing at the top level of the game. The managers didn’t make the mistakes on the pitch; the managers didn’t miss tackles, allow players pass them with ease or just put Denmark in a position to score. The players did that! If Keane and O’Neill where playing (while in the prime of course) they wouldn’t have allowed any of that to happen, instead of giving out to team mates they would have marshalled the troops into shape and tried to boss the game with intensity and drive that the team didn’t have last night.
It was hard to watch, but the backlash is even worse. If you are a supporter who wants the managers out, you are saying that you want the proven winners out and the players who are too scared to fight for a game to stay. Maybe you should look at yourselves!
It was hard to watch, it is tough to take but in sport, you get what you deserve most of the time. And with that team playing like that, this is what Ireland deserved!
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