It's time for 'I'm an Ireland fan, get me out of here'
TV View: Try as they might, Sky Sports simply could not big this one up at all
Ireland fans hold up some (rather small) anit-O’Neill posters. Photo: Simon Cooper/PA Wire
We might have been anticipating this one as much as we would, say, a root canal, but in fairness to Sky they did their very best to big up the deceased rubber, even putting the game on their Main Event channel rather than Sky Sports Mix – which is usually the home for things they’ve paid for and have to show even though they know next to no one will actually tune in.
Before getting down to some chat with his punditing guests Phil Babb and Jonathan Walters, Scott Minto, our host for the evening, let us know about the entirety of the Nations League fare Sky were offering us during the evening and without even a hint of discomfort told us that aside from Denmark v the Republic of Ireland, “Germany v Netherlands is the other stand-out fixture”.
You couldn’t but note, incidentally, that coverage of our lads’ trip to Aarhus didn’t start until 15 minutes before kick-off, so if you subtracted the ad breaks and the slow motion footage of Christian Eriksen disembarking the Danish team bus, that just left Phil and Jonathan in or around five minutes to preview the encounter.
They didn’t seem too disappointed about that, though, neither really knew what to say. Scott tried to fill the gap by showing us where we stood in our Nations League table, a needlessly heartless act on his part, while reminding his guests that even if the boys in white shirts with green sleeves shook world football to its core in Aarhus, they would still be relegated to the nether regions of European football that is League C.
Phil didn’t hold out much hope for core-shaking, “the vultures” were already circling he said, all set to scavenge through whatever marginally edible bits remain from Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane’s reign. Things, he reckoned, needed “freshening up”, while insisting he didn’t want to see anyone lose their job, while intimating he wouldn’t mind Martin and Roy being rendered unemployed all the same. It was, he said, simply a question of whether the FAI could afford to say ‘you’re fired’.
It wasn’t, then, the most upbeat of pre-match natters, Phil and Jonathan’s mood not lifted by news that six defenders had been selected for the game, including Cyrus Christie who would, once again, be positioned in midfield. Jonathan’s expression kind of said: !
More uplifting was news that Kasper Schmeichel would be sitting in the stands with his Da, although Denmark had still opted to include a goalkeeper in their line-up even if they’d have had a notion they mightn’t actually need one against our boys.
Time for Guy Havord to have a quick chat with Martin. Our gaffer just wanted his lads to go out and enjoy themselves, when he should really have been more concerned about the enjoyment of those of us heroically watching Sky Sports Main Event, thereby risking 90-sh minutes of our lives being lost and gone forever come full-time.
Anthems. Denmark did an a cappella version of theirs, almost liked they sensed the evening would be as tuneless. Amhrán na bhFiann was lusty enough, everyone who travelled to the stadium in support of the lads deserving of an all-hailing Michael D proclamation and an invite to Áras an Uachtaráin for tea and butter-creamed buns.
“Pre match Martin O’Neill asked for three fings,” said Phil. “He asked for the team to be more resolute, he asked the lads to run about ‘cos it’s a cold night, and he asked for creativity - well, two out of three ain’t bad, he certainly hasn’t had the creativity.”
Jonathan, meanwhile, just wept for Aiden O’Brien, our sole forward in with a greater chance of winning the EuroMillions than receiving a pass that might have presented him with an opportunity to direct a shot on goal.
By now the temptation to switch over to ‘I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here’ was immense, not least because ‘Arry Redknapp was struggling to eat emu due to the fact, he told us, that he was a fan of Rod Hull. But persevere we did.
Scott ran through the stats. Denmark: 70 per cent of the possession. Our lads: nought attempts on goal.
Maybe ‘Arry was the lucky one, stuck in the jungle, munching on emu, rather than a deceased rubber.