TV View: Copacabana dream recedes as Ireland’s faint hopes unravel
Panel left down in the dumps as a night that started hopeful-ish ends in Hopelostville
Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Richard Dunne of Ireland. Photograph: Inpho
To a man, the panel had a good feeling about the game, leaving Bill O’Herlihy in high spirits and the rest of us in fretful despair. No offence, like, but when the panel is feeling hopeful-ish, it oft signals a night where hope fizzles out and you’re left concluding football is no longer worth the pain.
“Will it be like Paris,” Bill even asked and while the panel couldn’t promise such a heady night, they were, indeed, hopeful-ish of a keeping-the-Rio-dream-alive triumph.
Well summered the lads looked too, incidentally, to the point where you thought the ‘colour up’ button had got struck, a caramel-ish glow emanating from the screen.
What introduced a little tension to the panel was Tony O’Donoghue’s report that there was divil a sign of tension in the camp, all concerned upbeat and relaxed. John Giles, especially, didn’t like that, tension was an important asset on a night like this, he said but still added, “I fancy us to win, Bill”.
Bill added to the buoyancy by digging out one of his stats.
“D’you know what’s an amazing record – we’ve never lost a match with (Marc) Wilson playing.”
This led to the only pre-match hint of a quarrel between Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady…..
Eamon: “That’s pretty good ….he was banished for two years in a case of mistaken identity.”
Eamon: “No, he was.”
Liam: “According to you.”
Eamon: “No! Will ya stop.”
… but, on the whole, there was optimistic-ish unity, the feeling bolstered when Giovanni Trapattoni guaranteed that his players would play with “enthusiasmus”.
A new pitch, a full house, what more could you want? Maybe a jauntier national anthem? That one was a bit mournful, but other than that, all set.
Ronnie Whelan, though, sounded a note of caution, while Eamon had told us Sweden were “no great shakes”, Ronnie reckoned we shouldn’t assume they’d arrive in Dublin intent on keeping their hosts’ Rio-dream-alive.
But. “I just can’t understand why Ireland don’t beat the teams higher than them in the rankings,” he added, the answer possibly in his query.
Meanwhile, “Who are ya”, the crowd sang in Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s direction, and you had a sinking feeling they might be more familiar with him come the game’s end.
Still, Ronnie complained that the “sulky superstar”, as Bill had dubbed him, was afforded too much protection by referees, “it seems to me you’re not allowed kick Ibrahimovic”. Well….