After bright and breezy start against Faroes it goes all gloomy, doomy

Panel united in the belief that Trapattoni is suffocating the bejaysus out of the team


After Robbie Keane’s early opener, George Hamilton saluted the 57 varieties of goals he’d scored in his international career, our commentator so full of beans after the bright and breezy start you sensed he felt the captain might reach a century by half-time.

The goal certainly helped calm the nerves of those who always fret when they hear pre-Irish-match pundits say things like “we’re going to win the game, it’s a question of how much we’ll improve our goal difference”.

Had they forgotten painful non-winning calamities through our footballing history against minnows the likes of Cyprus, Liechtenstein and, at Wembley recently, England?

Richard Sadlier was adamant, though, that it should be a comfy enough evening, and 50 per cent of his panel colleagues couldn’t disagree.

Sadlier: “It’s absolutely unthinkable that this Irish team would drop points tonight.”

Darragh Maloney: “Is it unthinkable, John?”

John Giles: “I think so.”

Eamon Dunphy had his concerns, however, “there’s a little something in my head that always worries about this coach,” he said, worried that he might do something “stupid tactically”.

Over on Sky, Niall Quinn’s main worry was there’d be any tactics at all, a fairly revolutionary approach to the game, it has to be said. But the gist was that he hoped once given a ball and a yard of grass the players would express themselves against weaker opposition, rather than Giovanni Trapattoni “shackling the team with, sort of, tactics”.

A pleasant evening
Shackles or not, he was optimistic it would be a pleasant evening. “You have to give respect to the Faroes,” he said, before suggesting they were about to be trolleyed.

Match time and Robbie did his thing and George fired up his calculator, but there were no more before the break, at half-time the panel reckoning the performance wasn’t worth a hill of beans.

“Desperate,” “awful” and “pathetic”, Dunphy suggested, Giles opting for a milder “disappointing”, but back on Sky, Quinn was trying to be polite. “It came a little bit unstuck,” he said, “but there were still lots of bright things that happened for this Irish team”.

A right hoot
If he ever transfers from Sky to RTÉ and finds himself seated between Giles and Dunphy, it’d be a right hoot – eg, last night:

Quinn: “This is the best night Aiden McGeady has had in an Ireland shirt for a long time.”

Dunphy: “McGeady was shocking – no end product again and again and again.”

A happy panel? Well, not completely, the focus initially on Simon Cox who, they appeared to feel, wasn’t a contender for the man of the match prize.

Dunphy: “What’s Cox doing playing outside right for 90 minutes against the Faroe Islands?”

Maloney: “Why is he there?”

Dunphy: “I don’t know.”

Sadlier: “It’s completely beyond me.”

Dunphy: “John, why does Cox play outside right?”

Giles: “I don’t know Eamon.”

Then there was a bit of chat about Wes Hoolahan, who Dunphy described as “delightful, original, cheeky and inventive – all the things Italian coaches over the decades have really resented”.

By now, Italy was feeling as loved as Simon Cox, Sadlier recalling that Trapattoni had reminded Ireland at a recent press coneference that we’re not Italy or Germany.

“But we’re NOT Italy or Germany – and we don’t want to be,” Giles declared, “we should be smart and bright but we don’t have to be German or Italian to be that.”

So, that was Simon Cox, Italy and Germany affronted.

Marc Wilson? “He’d an absolute nightmare,” said Dunphy, so you can add him to the lost.

All a bit gloomy, doomy then, the panel united in the belief that the manager is suffocating the bejaysus out of the team and they are so gripped by fear they’re as collectively effective as Simon Cox at outside right. That’s paraphrasing it.