Wednesday 18 September 2019

Ian O'Doherty: You have to hand it to the FAI - they're full of surprises

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

It's one of those unfortunate quirks of sport that, just as Irish rugby reaches heights of optimism which are unprecedented in the history of the game, Irish football is intent on lurching from one crisis to the next.

The performances on the pitch have been little short of shameful.

But the buck for that stops with the now departed and unlamented coaching duo, Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, who, if the players are to be believed, didn't really do that much coaching.

But what was truly bizarre was that while football fans debated the respective merits of either Mick McCarthy or Stephen Kenny for the job, none of us expected the totally left field decision to give McCarthy the job until the end of the next Euros in 2020, when he will then be replaced by Kenny, who will look after the Under-21s until then.

It sounds like the kind of idea which gets floated at a board meeting and is then promptly shot down for one simple reason - it's utterly ludicrous.

Showing the foolhardy optimism which blights the average Irish football fan's life, my first response was 'what if McCarthy gets us to the semi finals or more?'

Of course, the fact that we'll be doing well to even qualify for the Euros is neither here nor there.

But still, through a series of undeniably impressive mental gymnastics, the FAI somehow conspired to come up with a decision on the matter which left everyone baffled.

The stock response that we don't have the players is not enough to explain the current predicament the team is going through.

After all, the average fan is painfully aware of the limited pool of players available, but that's no excuse for being played off the park by the likes of Northern Ireland.

No, all we ask for is a team which at least knows which way it's meant to be playing and individual players who know their role.

That's the thing about the average fan - we're not fools and we don't like being treated that way.

We know that every achievement is an overachievement.

All we want is for other football teams to fear playing us.

Is that too much to ask?

Apparently the answer to that is... yes.

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