Frigid Ireland fail to thaw as Germans turn up heat
After that, there was no good news to report. There was, as Ronnie Whelan said repeatedly, his voice breaking, “a gulf in class”. The first two goals were merely the stuff of technical excellence by Marco Reus. By half-time, Ireland were down 2-0, out of ideas and the Dunph was talking darkly about “a malaise”, which is never a good sign.
“I think Ireland will get tired in the next 20 minutes and Germany could have more goals, yes,” Didi Hamann said with a tinge of regret. Indeed.
The third came from a penalty, the result of an agricultural tackle by Darren O’Dea on the shapely gam of Miroslav Klose.
“What the hell do you do a tackle like that for?” groaned Ronnie. It was a fair question. Klose then scored the fourth and it was an exercise in geometric cruelty.
“That’s knowing your angles,” purred George in admiration, before telling us that Klose “only scores inside the box.”
After 56 minutes, the Germans had not only rediscovered their zest for life, they looked like they might score 10. Toni Kroos scored a volley and there was really nothing more to say.
“We need someone,” Ronnie pleaded. “You don’t want to be embarrassed.” But at 0-5 down, we were well past embarrassment.
“It’s all pretty sad.” It was. And there was nothing more to say. I half hoped that when the match was over, we would return to find the studio empty and the lights turned out, perhaps Gilesy’s trilby sitting on the table alongside the pen that the Dunph threw across the studio during Italia ’90.
Or maybe RTÉ’s Mischief Brigade – Craig Doyle and Brendan O’Connor and whoever else – would be sitting there being Great Gas. But no. The trinity was still in place, there until the bitter end, ashen-faced.
“This isn’t Ireland. This isn’t us,” the Dunph said, before once again laying the blame squarely at the feet of Giovanni Trapattoni.
“We can’t go on with this coach and something has to be done.”
In fact, the Dunph went on to say he wouldn’t mind seeing Mick McCarthy back on the Irish sideline. It has all come full circle. Eventually, talk turned to the Faroe Islands, where Ireland play on Tuesday. Suddenly, a 0-0 draw looked attractive.
“Aren’t we just fooling ourselves?” Bill asked the boys. It wasn’t clear if he was talking about football anymore and it didn’t matter. The answer was yes. And haven’t the Germans being telling us that for some time now?