Thursday 29 September 2016

'It had nothing to do with tactics, it was balls'- Guess who Eamon Dunphy reckons won it for Ireland?

Tom Rooney

Published 22/06/2016 | 22:57

22 June 2016; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane congratulates Shane Long following the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Italy and Republic of Ireland at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille, France. Photo by David Maher / Sportsfile
22 June 2016; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane congratulates Shane Long following the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Italy and Republic of Ireland at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille, France. Photo by David Maher / Sportsfile

Like a moth to a flame, Eamon Dunphy sought to attribute Ireland’s spectacular victory over Italy almost exclusively to Wes Hoolahan, who played a grand total of 13 minutes in Nice.

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We know Eamon Dunphy is a bit of a fan of Wes Hoolahan, he’s made that clear once or twice.

In the aftermath of Ireland’s most important WIN at a major tournament since beating the same nation by the same score at the World Cup in America 22 years ago, Dunphy elevated his fandom to new heights.

The pundit appeared to conveniently forget that, to a man, Ireland had put in an incredible shift, and had dominated the Italians long before Hoolahan’s introduction.

Not long after the Norwich playmaker came on, he failed the convert a gild-edged chance from point blank range.

Thankfully, he soon compensated for the shortcoming when dinking a sumptuous ball onto the head of the onrushing Robbie Brady, who nodded it beautifully beyond Salvatore Sirigu.

On the RTE panel, Dunphy could barely contain himself and more than intimated that it was Hoolahan that turned the game in Ireland’s favour.

“It was a fabulous run and a great goal, and a superb delivery from Wes Hoolahan, who had just missed a sitter a few minutes earlier.

“It really is a marvellous night but everything was fizzing out until Wes came on and then we had a couple of chances.

“Wes has had to forget what happened to him two minutes earlier and had the guts, skill courage and imagination to float that ball at Brady perfectly.

“Brady has made that run, it’s what you do when you’re a schoolboy and you’re in trouble. You go back to your gut instinct. It was an execution of talent and really a great way to win a match.”

Never one to lavish Martin O’Neill with praise, Dunphy reckoned that the managers' tinkering with the team had little to do with the stunning win.

“It had nothing to do with longs balls or tactics, that was all about class and having the balls to get it done in a big way.” 

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