Luxembourg boss doubles down on ‘British’ tag amid bad sportsmanship accusation

Stephen Kenny bemused by counterpart’s gripe as he defends Ireland skilled history

Through a translator, Luc Holtz continually labelled Ireland as British and accused Kenny and his staff of bad sportsmanship. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Through a translator, Luc Holtz continually labelled Ireland as British and accused Kenny and his staff of bad sportsmanship. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

Oh dear. This final World Cup qualifier ended in accusations and counter accusations. Liam Brady and Robbie Keane even got a mention. But in a good way.

“I’d rather they were singing about the players to be honest, I’m a bit embarrassed,” said Ireland manager Stephen Kenny of the jubilant travelling support. “I’d rather they were singing come on you boys in green or whatever about the players.

“I appreciate it, it’s great but at the end of the day it’s about players and it’s always about players. The spirit and camaraderie in the group is really great now. That is why we have kept four clean sheets in a row. The players really want to come into camp.”

But that is not what was lingering in the air as Luxembourg manager Luc Holtz rounded on the Republic of Ireland staff in the aftermath of last night’s 3-0 defeat. Holtz would not explain specifically what the problem was but he made unsubstantiated accusations of “bad sportsmanship” by Kenny’s team immediately following the game.

It was suggested that Kenny was angered by accusations of a “British style” long ball approach by Ireland ever since Luxembourg beat them 1-0 in Dublin last March.

Holtz refused to speak in English despite doing so at length pre-match. The translator stated repeatedly that the Irish are in fact British.

“The coach wants to say that he is very disappointed with the behaviour of the Ireland staff,” said a translator, sitting beside Holtz. “This evening they behaved like the big guys. In Ireland when we won they immediately disappeared into the dressing room.

“It is not fair play and very disappointing. We are not used to that from British teams.”

Again, when it was pointed out that calling the Irish a British team is like saying people from Luxembourg are from Belgium, he reiterated an accusation of “unsportmanslike behaviour.”

“I never actually seen him,” said a confused Kenny. “We never exchanged any words. He is a good football coach but maybe he should look at his psychology. We are disappointed that he denigrated all the great players that have played for Ireland.

John Giles, Liam Brady, Paul McGrath, Mick McCarthy, all of these players, Robbie Keane, Damien Duff, Roy Keane, and it is wrong to say we just go for second balls for 100 years. That is more of less what we said. It is wrong to suggest that. It was unacceptable to degenerate all the ex-Irish players.”

National hero Chiedozie Ogbene rose above all the pettiness.

“I didn’t hear those comments, I try to stay in the zone.”

“I’m delighted to score again and get on the scoresheet,” said Ogbene. “But I owe it to the team. A three nil win, to keep a clean sheet as well away from home against a strong team, the game plan worked out well and everyone dug deep.

“I was happy to get the goal, obviously [Jason Knight]spotted me and slid it back, credit to him. He came on and he changed the game for us, he accelerated the game, it came from the backline from the goalkeeper to build up the play. Just to keep a clean sheet and get three goals away from home is incredible.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.