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Never mind Eddie the Eagle: being good at losing isn't anything to sing about

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A supporter watches in
dismay during the final
moments of Ireland v
Spain last Thursday.

A supporter watches in dismay during the final moments of Ireland v Spain last Thursday.

A supporter watches in dismay during the final moments of Ireland v Spain last Thursday.

- I am sad following the humiliating demise of our national football team. As a fan of over 45 years, I do not criticise the efforts of the players -- they are simply not good enough, but they tried to a man.

The coach did well to get us there, but his shortcomings were also exposed, as they were when he brought Italy to a Championship previously, when he found himself in the furnace of the white heat of top-class footballers at the zenith of their abilities.

What is really annoying me is the Eddie-the-Eagle mentality gripping so many people and personified by the king of banality himself, Bill O'Herlihy, last evening. "Ah shure, we won the singing contest." Good God.

For those not old enough to remember, Eddie the Eagle was a British downhill skier who inexplicably qualified for the Winter Olympics some years ago. He was so utterly inept that he became a celebrity and was feted at home and abroad for many years and still occasionally pops up on reality shows. The talented members of the UK team, some of whom even won medals, were completely sidelined while the media and chat-shows lined up to bask in the awfulness of Eddie the Eagle.

Cue O'Herlihy -- "Ah sure we won the sing-song" -- and he is not alone. The phalanx of DJs, radio hosts and columnists who wouldn't know the difference between a long ball, short ball, square ball, dinky ball, hospital ball or soft ball, twitter inanely about the sing-song. These will all move on now to the next bandwagon -- Leinster rugby, the Dubs, Katie Taylor when she wins the gold -- while the genuine football folk will quietly contemplate the humiliation of Gdansk.

Were we the only national team ever to bring two players who have no clubs to a Championship tournament and then bring on one of them against the world champions? Did we bribe the statistician who flashed up the possession stats to show Spain 64pc, Ireland 36pc, when my eight-year-old nephew Harvey told me it should have been 85pc-15pc? Did I pray for the first time that the match would end quickly to prevent further punishment, rather than praying for more time to allow us to get back a couple of goals? And then, in my misery, I am confronted by the Eddie-the-Eagle spokesman on the RTE panel -- and I reach for my remote control and viciously press the OFF button.

James Swithin
Clonmellon, Co Meath

Irish Independent