TV View: Parrott’s laser strike keeps the party going

Lithuania brought us back to earth following under-21 success until Troy’s late, late winner

It really isn’t that long ago, no more than a sprinkling of months, that we were looking forward to international nights with much the same anticipation as we’d have had for root canal work.

But the gloom has lifted significantly of late, and if you'd limbered up for the friendly against Lithuania by watching our under-21 people's 2-0 win away to Sweden, then the spring in your step would have had your head hitting off the ceiling.

"Are we overhyping this?" asked Joanne Cantwell, questioning her own exhilaration.

"Noooooooo," said Stephen Kelly, rather emphatically, the consensus in the end in the RTÉ studio that this was a result that should have had us dancing on the ceiling.

The Euro 2023 qualifier, incidentally, took place in the Swedish city of Boras, which – morto – some of us had barely heard of.

So you’d be fairly sure there’d be no supporters there to hail the mighty victory.

At which point a cry of “you’ll neeeeeeever beeeeeeeat the Irish” went up from the stands where a small cluster of Tricolour-wielding hardy souls were sheltering from the intermittent snow flurries.

We get everywhere, we do.

Kenny Cunningham, on co-commentary, was humongously impressed, paying special tribute to our "big units" at the back, the size of those lads confirming that this generation of young fellas is exceedingly well nourished.

So, we headed into that Lithuania game in high spirits.

That’s not to claim that this particular late March friendly had the nation holding its breath.

Sky's Rob Hawthorne, who could usually make a clash between, say, Dulwich Hamlet and Billericay Town sound like an El Clásico, made no effort to big this one up at all, telling us that "by Uefa's reckoning, Europe has just six teams worse than Lithuania – Andorra, Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar and San Marino".

And another indication of Sky being less than frenzied about this encounter was that their build-up lasted an entire seven minutes, with no pundits on duty, when the very least pre-match bigging-up they’d give to Dulwich Hamlet v Billericay Town would be 60 minutes.

Confession: somewhere in the middle of this cure for insomnia, some of us turned to Fifa's YouTube channel to watch the World Cup qualifying penalty shoot-out between Senegal and Egypt

And if the visitors weren't dissed enough, Rob's commentary-box colleague Matt Holland confidently predicted that, in so many words, Caoimhín Kelleher wouldn't have a hair of his golden locks out of place come full-time, so untested would he be by the 137th-ranked team in the world.

But when Stephen Kenny started complaining about the Lithuanian goalkeeper's time-wasting after just the five minutes, you sensed this would not be a night you'd be telling your grandchildren about.

Indeed, come half-time, Rob and Matt had so little to talk about, Sky showed almost as many ads as you’d see during the Super Bowl. “It has been largely frustrating,” said Matt, Rob deeming unnecessary the inclusion of “largely” in that appraisal.

It was when Ireland had their third goal of the night disallowed (Ogbene 2, Hourihane) that you began to sense that the gods had ordained that this would be a game that would remind you to never, ever take for granted happy occasions such as the trip to Boras, because just when you start taking football happiness for granted, it sinks its teeth in to your bottom.

Confession: somewhere in the middle of this cure for insomnia, some of us turned to Fifa's YouTube channel to watch the World Cup qualifying penalty shoot-out between Senegal and Egypt, all the while wondering why the players' faces were dotted with shiny green spots, guessing in the end that the security folk in Diamniadio had searched spectators for everything except laser pen thingies. Bizarre? Highly.

Back in Dublin, Kenny might have wished he could have lasered the assistant ref out of existence when he disallowed the third of those goals.

And then. Ninety-first minute. Jeff Hendrick finds Scott Hogan with a long ball. Hogan controls it nicely and slots it past the time-waster in the Lithuanian goal. And the assistant ref raises his flag. Offside. Kenny's eyes could have lasered him out of existence at that point.

Into the 97th minute, 0-0, although 4-0 to Ireland if you counted the disallowed goals. A disappointing draw against the team with only Andorra, Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar and San Marino below them.

Hold it. Troy Parrott. You flippin' beeeeeeeeauty.

Dancing on the bleedin’ ceiling.

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