Bloodied but unbowed: Dunne makes mark
Published 07/09/2011 | 05:00
IRELAND centre back Richard Dunne was a marked man in Moscow last night.
He played 16 minutes of last night's game against Russia in a replacement jersey whose number had to be inscribed on the spot -- front and back -- with a marker.
Earlier he had to leave the pitch and a frantic match with a blood-splattered jersey.
But German referee Felix Berdych insisted that his new jersey required numerical identification. Embarrassed Irish backroom staff had to scramble for a replacement.
As Ireland defended heroically with 10 men, ultimately their goalkeeping coach, Alan Kelly, was forced to stencil in the number five on Dunne's back.
But it later emerged that they need not have gone to all that bother as UEFA rules do not stipulate that replacement kits for blood-stained jerseys must have numbers on them.
Dunne's heroics, acclaimed by Irish legend Paul McGrath as the best defensive display he had ever seen, combined with a hat-trick of Shay Given saves, ensured Ireland escaped with a point.
Afterwards, FAI chief executive John Delaney celebrated the miraculous draw by clambering into the stand where most of the 700 Irish fans were housed, bizarrely tossing them his tie in celebration.
Ireland's qualification hopes now hinge on their final two matches against Andorra away and Armenia at home after the latter surprisingly beat Slovakia 4-0 last night.
The Irish team drew heroically with Russia in the Luzhniki Stadium to keep their Euro 2012 qualification hopes alive.
Meanwhile, in Dublin the cries of Ole, Ole were all coming from the red corner instead of from those clad in green.
Russian fans gathered in the capital to cheer on their team in the crunch qualifier.
It wasn't quite a "crimson tide" of support but the dozens of fans who gathered in the Living Room, a city centre pub popular with Russian supporters, managed to drown out their rival Irish colleagues.
Festooned in white, blue and red and bolstered by support from Latvian, Moldovan, Estonian and Lithuanian nationals, they were in jubilant mood despite the scoreless draw.
"We're nearly through, that's all that matters," said a delighted Inta Rozkova from Latvia, a second-year business studies student at Blanchardstown Institute of Technology.
Her colleague, Elena Donica from Moldova, a second-year European studies student at IT Tallaght, was "very happy" after the result -- especially after she had watched Russia win 3-2 in the Aviva Stadium last October.
One of the biggest Russian cheers of the evening came after Dunne was booked, ruling him out of Ireland's next game.
But there was also some sympathy and support for the Irish cause.
"I am happy Russia will go through but if it was anyone else I would support Ireland," said Stan Zamyatin.