TV View: Karma does not come back to haunt French

Ghost of Thierry Henry looms to no avail as Ireland let lead slip in second half

Republic of Ireland goalscorer Robbie Brady is consoled by John O’Shea after the 1-2 defeat to France on Sunday. Photograph: Getty.

Republic of Ireland goalscorer Robbie Brady is consoled by John O’Shea after the 1-2 defeat to France on Sunday. Photograph: Getty.

 

Revenge may be best served cold but from the off there was little cool about the overwhelming smell of burning martyr among the RTÉ football panel.

In the days leading up to Ireland’s last-16 clash with France, Thierry Henry’s handball from 2009 was supposedly not an issue, to the extent it felt like everyone was trying just that little too hard to be too cool for school about Irish football’s infamous betrayal. Beforehand even Didier Deschamps agreed that it was more of a preoccupation for the French media rather than our own doughty hack-pack.

The idea of “revenge” for an act that don’t forget would have been acclaimed to the skies had it been Robbie Keane who’d massaged the ball with his hand was apparently admirably and finally consigned to the perspective of ancient history. Everyone had moved on – nothing to see here – all very adult: and then Liam Brady released his inner adolescent, illustrating a capacity for holding and incubating a grudge in the process.

“You know what – we’re due something against these,” he seethed before reciting years of oppression even before 2009. “In 1978 and 1982 I played when we were trying to qualify for the World Cup and we were robbed twice in Paris. I don’t want to see that again,” he warned darkly.

Shackles were off

Eamon Dunphy got teed up with a “Karma Baby” and enthusiastically sparked his inner-hippy.

“I don’t think it’s in the minds of the players at all but at a larger psychic level it is interesting,” he mused, man. “I do believe in the karma. It did happen. And it does come back. Maybe today will be the day. It mightn’t be in the lads’ heads – but it’s in mine.”

Speculation as to the fluctuating contents of Dunphy’s mind has been extensive over the years, in notable contrast to John Giles’s consistent and determined focus on logic: except this time Gilesy seemed overcome by the same martyr fumes as everyone else.

Outlining some bygone Bulgarian expeditions of yore, he said: “We weren’t a rated team in those days. It felt like they could rob us and it’s okay. There wouldn’t be much publicity about it. We had bad decisions. I hope they come back and haunt the referees that robbed us.”

By match-time there was so much ghost-busting karma floating around it seemed like there was no option but to inhale deeply. And when Ireland went a goal up inside a couple of minutes the cosmos seemed aligned towards perhaps the greatest result in Irish football history, especially since the French team looked like they’d just been introduced to each other.

“Have we mentioned Henry,” Jim Beglin happily queried during the first-half commentary. Such was Ireland’s hold on the game that Beglin and George Hamilton could even chortle about their encounters with woebegone members of the French public still fretting about 2009.

“You’d expect it would have been long forgotten,” said George who obviously hadn’t been paying attention to the avenging angels back in studio. “They’re still embarrassed,” Beglin righteously replied. It was in the stars, pre-destined: at half-time Brady’s confidence made Zlatan Ibrahimovic seem timid. “I think we’ll score again, he crowed. “The French only showed what they can do in the very last minute.”

All that was missing was Henry himself on touchline duty for the BBC. Except this was an ITV game.

All the excuses about heat, the short-interlude from the Italy game and ticket allocations would have been happily swapped for a 1-0 half-time lead but those of us familiar with Irish football’s nervy relationship with expectation over the years were intrinsically wary of such rampant cockiness.

No hysterics

Shane DuffyShane LongRobbie Brady

Afterwards the verdict was that John O’Shea not being picked was critical.

“I don’t want to criticise the team – today,” Dunphy said ominously. “But decisions have come back to haunt us.”

There might be seven years of grudge in this yet.

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.