PRE-MATCH press conferences, or Match Day 1 in uefa-speak, are usually gruelling affairs due to the presence of so many members of the international media.
These guys, from countries who are not competing at Euro 2012, have as much interest in the political thoughts of Michael Lowry as they have in whether Stephen Ward is going to play for Ireland or how Paul McShane is shaping up in training.
Getting in the same room as Giovanni Trapattoni offers these loons -- let's be impolite -- the chance to ask Trap a question about anything of relevance to them but which has no connection at all to the Irish squad.
And Trap clearly bristled yesterday when he was asked by an Italian reporter on Trap's views about Antonio Cassano's comments about gays in football. The Ireland manager's face grew quite animated in dismissing the question. So we didn't get to hear his thoughts on gays in football. Wonder if his views are along the lines of the late, great Bull Hicks (check out his "gays in the military" sketch on youtube).
SPEAKING of politics, hats off to Leo Varadkar (pictured) for carrying himself with dignity in Poland. Travelling at his own expense, Leo was around Sopot yesterday as a regular tourist, though as Minister for Sport he will be representing the government at the game tonight. But Leo looked the part while strolling around Sopot yesterday in his shorts and short-sleeved shirt combo.
A lot better than Bertie's get-up before the cameras while he was Taoiseach, Bertie wearing a "sports casual" outfit that even Alan Partridge would have turned his nose up at.
HARD to imagine David Silva or Iniesta ending up in the League of Ireland, seeing out their days playing against Bray Wanderers and Derry City. But something along those lines happened in the 1960s, when Shelbourne FC were able to boast a full Spanish international in their squad.
Alvaro 'Alvarito' Rodriguez was a handy defender who won a Cup Winners Cup medal with Atletico Madrid (1962) and also won two caps for Spain's senior team, in 1960. His career drifted off after that and somehow he ended up signing for Shels, making his debut against Drumcondra in 1965, but he made only a handful of appearances for the Reds before moving on.
Now 75 (just two years older than Trapattoni) he lives in Spain and still watches Atletico Madrid games.
THIRTEEN years - that's how long it's been since an Irish side defeated Spanish opposition in a competitive game at any level.
We've played them a few times since then, even had a couple of wins (our U21s beat their boys 2-1 in Waterford three years ago, but that was a friendly) and a worthy draw (Shels holding Deportivo la Coruna 0-0 in Dublin in the Champions League), but the last time Spain lost to an Irish side in a game of note was in the U18 European Championship finals in Sweden in 1999, a Ger Crossley (pictured) goal beating Iker Casillas.
The game was a tight, tense affair for 60 minutes but the deadlock was broken on the hour-mark when Iker Casillas fouled Richie Partridge in the box, and Crossley stepped up to score the penalty.
In 1999 we had a 1-0 win for Ireland against Spain with a penalty, scored against Iker Casillas, Ireland going on to the knock-out stages of a Euro finals? We'd settle for more of the same in Gdansk tonight.
The Irish team that day was: Dean Delaney (Everton); John Frost (Waterford U), Jason Gavin (Middlesbrough), Clive Clarke (Stoke C), Greg O'Halloran (Cork City); Liam Miller (Celtic), Ger Crossley (Unattached), Colin Healy (Celtic); Richie Partridge (Liverpool), Gary Doherty (Luton T), Richie Baker (Shelbourne). Subs: Peter Murphy (Blackburn R) for Frost, 46; Graham Barrett (Arsenal) for Baker, 86.