Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Estonian Blue

A bad day for Labour but a great night to be Irish. Apart from this, I don't think I wrote much about the European Championship qualifiers over the past 18 months. Some will say I've turned me back on the team, others just glad i didn't offer much, as the old reverse psycology worked. It's actually surprising how much it does.
Ireland and Estonia drew 1-1 at Landsdown Road tonight, sending Ireland through to the European Championship to be held next Summer in Poland & Ukraine. The damage was done last Friday night in Estonia, when, after a sluggish hour, Ireland woke to run out comfortable 4-0 winners.
It's the first time Ireland has qualified for a major soccer championship since 2002. Ten years don't seem so far back - looking back. Gone in an instant.
It was hard not to grow a certain apathy after the way we did not reach the last World Cup after Thierry Henry's cheating and his following un-endorsement, the only person ever to have been demoted from Booker's own Hall of Fame. We were the best team on that night in Paris. Bitter pill to swallow.
All the memories of 2002 came back to life that night. How we played Spain off the park in extra time in the second round only to lose on penalties. This after Roy Keane's departure pre-tournament. We might have won that one, if the luck of the Irish actually existed. But there you go...

I was more hopeful than confident this campaign. No doubt about it the Irish team had heart. That draw in Russia? One of the great performances. We ran out clear second in the group after being seeded third, earning us the plum tie in the play-offs in the hopeful category against Estonia. The confident came after we went 5-0 up tonight. I guess it comes down to manager Trappatoni's ability to use what he has to their strengths and like it or not, we have qualified and that's better than sitting at home, a bitter spectator as Germany win it next Summer - captained by Lionel Messi.
We have a mean defense and if Robbie Keane can keep himself sharp after moving to Los Angeles we will always score a goal or two, so maybe I can dream aga... what am I saying? How do you call it, without even knowing the opponents yet? You don't!

Gives the place a lift. My best days were Ireland's best days. From 1988 to the present day. In '88, you couldn't write the script. Scotland beat Bulgaria away from home with a last gasp winner to send us through. Remember those scottish shorts. Gary Mackay. Never had to buy another drink again in Ireland.
Then woe and behold, England in our first ever game at a major championship. Then we won. Ray Houghton. It was the start of a new confidence for many, even though we didn't get out of the group, after a draw against Russia (Ronnie's scissors) and a loss to a Dutch goal that seemed to defy what a ball could do. Home we welcomed them as heroes. What an introduction to the big time.
Better followed in 1990 and 1994 and then 2002. The best of memories.

So it's plaudits all round. Still have a few issues with the governing body of the game. It's very corporate and riddled with accusation at World level. I don't think a footballer is worth quarter of a million a week. But hey, it creates the dream which props everything else. Could be worse, I suppose.
But damn we are making strides slowly in Ireland. The 8 million we pocket for qualifying hopefully won't be taxed and put into Anglo. Enda was there tonight. See what sport can do, Enda? For the old national psyche. Quit pissing the defenders of our nation around and leave them at their place of work and get them involved in turning our Olympic contingent for London next year into men and women of steel. Do what's right for Ireland.

Seems politics still has some principaled men left. Minister of State for Housing, Willie Penrose resigned his post today over the closure by government of the Army barracks in Mullingar. Soldiers stationed there will be sent to Athlone. 200 hundred years of history - gone,... because of banks and the two Brian's. Just like that.
Penrose opposed the closure and resigned his cabinet seat this afternoon. Penrose should now lead his way to the Indie side of the house and cause dissent which might eventually lead to a new party.
First-teamsters must be getting increasingly worried. Their pension.
Do they oppose the budget and go Indie themselves and have the possibility of a long Dáil career or do they take a chance that their future is better in government hands. It is a juicy sum of money after all. And times are tough.
This followed the disclosure by Labour MEP, Nessa Childers that she was threatened with expulsion from the Party for voicing her concern over the appointment of Kevin 'I miscounted 3-6 billion euro' Cardiff to the European Court of Auditors. Poor woman. She must be traumatized. I mean how dare she speak of her concern?
Oh, Labour. It has begun. The Gilmore Gale has long blown itself out. Wonder how they will come out once they vote for austerity?

Go Ireland.

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