Robbie Butler: Ireland were rubbished for not trying at Euro 2012, but the stats proved they worked their socks off
WITH Euro 2012 heating up and the mouth-watering prospect of a repeat of the 2008 European Championship Final likely, Ireland’s brief involvement in the competition is now but a distance memory. Unlike Euro ’88 or our previous World Cup adventures, Euro 2012 passed us by. With the exception of a Sean St. Ledger goal, we failed to land a blow at a tournament that was laden with so much Irish expectation.
In light of our disappointing exit the post-mortem has begun. Sadly, as is the way with examinations, the first victim of any such analysis is often the truth. This is most unfortunate and a consequence of the unscientific manner of analysis.
Ireland’s qualification for Euro 2012 was an incredible achievement. When the draw for the qualifying rounds of Euro 2012 was made on the 7th of February, 2010 in the Congress Hall of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, Ireland were ranked the 25th best team in the draw and placed in Pot 3. Fourteen teams qualified for Euro 2012 via the qualifiers. Ireland were the only team outside of Pots 1 and 2 to qualify! Nine teams ranked higher than us, including Switzerland, Turkey and Romania, failed to make it to Poland and Ukraine. With the exception of hosts Ukraine, every other country that qualified played at Euro 2008 or Euro 2004. Ireland had not been at the competition since 1988.