Ireland take the knee despite Budapest boos; Darragh Ó Sé says no time for shadow boxing

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Ireland players take the knee ahead of their draw with Hungary in Budapest. Photograph: Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty

Ireland players take the knee ahead of their draw with Hungary in Budapest. Photograph: Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty

The Republic of Ireland rounded off a difficult 2020-21 campaign with a 0-0 draw away to Hungary in Budapest last night. Stephen Kenny’s side headed into the fixture on the back of last week’s 4-1 win away to Andorra - the first of his tenure - and emerged with a deserved draw to ensure they ended a tricky international break unbeaten. Goalkeepers Gavin Bazunu and Caoimhín Kelleher played a half each and both delivered assured performances, with the visitors finishing strongly against a side who will play against Portugal, France and Germany at Euro 2020. The evening was marred however by Irish players being booed for taking a knee ahead of kick-off, with 10,000 supporters clicking through the turnstiles at the Szusza Ferenc stadium. Afterwards, Kenny said: “I think it was the right decision. I was approached to see if we wanted to take the knee. In fact, I approached Barry Gleeson [FAI international operations director] and insisted that we wanted to take the knee. I think it is a very very important message. The fact that it was booed is incomprehensible really. It must be damaging for Hungary with the Euros.” Meanwhile debutant Chiedozie Ogbene, who showed some electric pace in a late cameo, said: “I was hoping to come on just to score in front of their fans. Maybe it was the best thing it didn’t happen as I might have let my emotions get the better of me with any sort of celebration I would have done.”

In his column this morning Darragh Ó Sé has looked forward to this weekend’s final round of league fixtures. Only, he believes, they are essentially Championship fixtures, given the condensed calendar and the close proximity of the main event. He writes: “Even more crucially, there’s no time lag worth talking about between now and championship. It leaves no real room for shadow boxing or experimenting. The time for learning on the job is gone now, realistically. Half the teams playing this weekend have only two games left in their year - this one and the first round of the championship. If you’re not going full pelt over the next fortnight or three weeks, it’s seven or eight months before you get another shot at it.” And he has identified Donegal’s clash with Dublin in Cavan on Saturday as one to particularly savour: “A game against the Dubs is different. It’s a chance to see what’s going on out in the rest of the world. But it’s also a chance to take a scalp. There’s no such thing as a bad win over Dublin, no matter how it comes about. But especially if they managed to pull it off this close to championship. You couldn’t send away for a better launchpad for the Ulster championship.”

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.