“Sometimes the power of belief outweighs that of ability,” we said. “Don’t forget what Greece did in 2004,” we cried. Well, well hooey. Looking back on ‘To dream the impossible dream’ we learned a very sorry lesson; stop listening to Mariah and Whitney and never use a Peter O’Toole analogy in a football column. We’re not going to go to Roy Keane-lengths of criticism, but by Jaysus we’re going to put the arses of those that need it through the bacon slicer.
Stand up for Paulie Green, who impressed so much for the Republic he became the first ever pre-post-Euro buzz signing. Take a bow Neil Warnock and Leeds United on landing the hitherto homeless footballing superstar. In certain Peacock circles and in hushed voices, we have heard, it is talked about how Neilo has bagged “the Irish Messi” . We don’t see it ourselves, and we don’t know why Greener was in Poland and Ukraine (physically at least); he came on, he gave Fabregas enough rope to keep Baghdad in check until the next Euros and he went away again.
When we were in school we used to joke with friends: “Have you met my cousin?” “Who’s your cousin,” was the response we’d wait for before driving our knee into our hapless victim’s thigh. “Séamus,” we’d cry, as milk came out of our eyeballs and ham sandwiches were thrown in the air in a moment of unbridled merriment and jubilation. Obviously Trapattoni fell for this quite a bit in his day, so much so he has no means of relaying the order to ring Séamus Coleman – that ham sandwich-eating bastard, Tardelli, is only waiting for his opportunity.
It can’t all be minor assault and fellas with fortunate surnames. It’s also the Brits’ fault, it always is. If they hadn’t sent us over Jack Charlton in exchange for a few hundred heifers during a particularly memorable BSE outbreak in the Eighties we would never be in this situation. Him and his band of sublimely talented players announced us on the global footballing stage like an abrupt fart at a funeral.
Some might say the present Big Boss, who, even then, was old enough to be Jack’s sugar daddy, has taken inspiration from the tactics that brought teams containing Niall Quinn and the not-actually-Irish Tony Cascarino relative success. Defend hard and lob the high. Pretty basic fare really and not entirely surprising but when you have an aging and seemingly unfit Robbie Keane – he of all of five foot and 10 inches – riding solo upfront it’s surely tactical suicide. Who ever really believed Keane would win a header against Pique?
We don’t even like pasta any more. Our ‘Sopranos’ boxset is going in the bin
Meanwhile, we have John Delaney – Ireland’s answer to Rodney Trotter – getting his mug in where he can. Lifted high aloft the supporters in Poznan Square, John reminded us more of a half-cut principal of a Harty Cup-winning school than the head of a credible football association. “There’s only one John Delaney,” a well-lubricated mob of supporters sang. They’re right, but unfortunately we’re lumbered with him.
Remember the collective national outrage when our Shay was ousted by some young whippet that went by the name of Joe Hart for the No. 1 shirt at Manchester City? Such knee-jerk and reactionary criticism wouldn’t be lost at a Tea Party summit somewhere in North Carolina. Given looked a shadow of his old self. He made the odd save but, despite not being the gaffer, the buck stops with him for more than two of the goals conceded. Against both Croatia and Spain Given was left flailing. If he wasn’t between the sticks at Euro 2012 it’d be hard to differentiate between him and our over-excited mammy when GrannyKiller arrives at the train station on a brief sojourn home.
Giovanni Trapattoni had somewhat of an epiphany at a press conference on Tuesday when he said: “I think with young players we can be better.” Now, well-known celebrity undercover investigative journalist Donal McIntyre we are not, but we do know that the Trap XI that kicked off against Croatia in Poznan contained seven of the players he gave a start to during his first game in charge four years ago. Even then that was considered an aging team, even then anyone with an iota of footballing nous could see that the future of Irish football was not Damien Duff, who didn’t start that game but would have only for an injury, Robbie Keane, Richard Dunne or Shay Given. We won’t pretend to have known what the future was then, we were busy getting into states even Oliver Reed would have struggled to awake from in student flats. These days we are relatively well-adjusted semi-alcoholics and realise that McClean, Andrews, McCarthy, Houlihan, Coleman, Westwood; hell, even Gibson; are the players who should bear the burden of Green.
Trapattoni’s unlikely epiphany came four years too late – his chance has come and gone. It’s the equivalent of Moses waking up late with a hangover and finding a heap of God-shaped ashes in the desert.
So what of the impossible dream? We say ‘pah’ to it. We thumb our nose at dreams. We don’t even like pasta any more. Our ‘Sopranos’ boxset is going in the bin. Bring back Andy Reid; he’d be a handy player-manager.