Saturday 21 April 2018

Danish pasting leaves a sour taste for Ireland fans

A dejected Jeff Hendrick, left, and Robbie Brady of Republic of Ireland after the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-off 2nd leg match between Republic of Ireland and Denmark at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
A dejected Jeff Hendrick, left, and Robbie Brady of Republic of Ireland after the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-off 2nd leg match between Republic of Ireland and Denmark at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

The dream is over. Ireland's efforts to qualify for the World Cup crashed and burned in spectacular fashion, Denmark channelling the spirit of their Viking forebears by pillaging the home team for a 5-1 evisceration.

I must confess that my love for the Irish soccer team died a long time ago, but still - it was hard not to feel sorry, listening to live commentary on International Soccer Special (Radio 1, Tue 7pm). Adrian Eames and sidekick Brian Kerr began the evening in fighting form - the excitement rose when Ireland bundled in a goal - then steadily deflated as the Danes replied, with interest.

You'd feel sorry for Irish fans, whose exemplary behaviour may be overstated but is still very real, and admirable. You'd also feel sorry for players and management, who seem fairly sound, in contrast to the preening fops bedevilling much of the professional game.

After the long whistle, back in a dejected studio, analyst Alan Cawley sounded angry when saying, "All we did all night was boom long balls… this whole campaign has been the same story, and really, it's not acceptable."

On Newstalk Breakfast (Mon-Fri 7am), the post-mortem was introduced by Paul Williams: "That wasn't a rout in the Aviva, it was an annihilation. What in God's name happened?" Shane Coleman concurred: "Yeah… it was terrible, a really awful night."

So, a bad week, made immeasurably worse by the failure of Italy to qualify also. A World Cup without Italy! I mean, what's the point?

The coolest SOBs in world soccer, with the iconic blue jersey, the hairbands and wild gesticulations, prayers to heaven, catenaccio and dark arts, and that quintessentially Italian swagger in how they couldn't care less that they play with no swagger at all, and if you don't like it, then "vaffanculo"… Tragic.

Bob Geldof's decision to hand back his Freedom of the City of Dublin sparked off a lively discussion on The Last Word (Today FM, Mon-Fri 4.30pm). Bob the Gob says he's doing this because he doesn't want to share the honour with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, given the current conflict involving that country's Rohingya Muslim minority.

Councillor Mannix Flynn agreed with the decision; Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha understood the Boomtown Rat's thinking, but asked should Geldof not also hand back his knighthood from the British government.

Being a lowly scribe, I couldn't comment on the geopolitical situation in South-East Asia, nor on the rights or wrongs of Geldof's predictably showy act of dissent. I would say this, though: is there any chance he might give up his Irish citizenship while he's at it?

Geldof has done nothing but badmouth this country - and by extension, you and me - to the rest of the world for four decades. Go on, Bob, commit to your principles: renounce Irish citizenship. Sure who'd want to be associated with this priest-ridden, narrow-minded, eating-their-own backward kip anyway, am I right? Go on, we'll be grand without you.

The Marian Finucane Show (Radio 1, Sat-Sun 11am) ran a lengthy interview with pro-life figurehead Katie Ascough, recently at the centre of some college-politics melodrama in UCD. While I would disagree with her on pretty much every aspect of the abortion question, I thought she came across fairly well.

Some of her views are close to incomprehensible to me (she thinks abortion should remain illegal even in cases of rape, for instance), but Ascough seems to be a sincere person of good intentions. We'll never agree on legalising abortion - and that's the whole problem, I guess - but demonising these people as misogynists, fanatics or religious loopers doesn't help anyone.

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