Sport Soccer

Thursday 17 October 2019

Blood, sweat and tears in Moscow

Richard Dunne in Moscow

The old formula of blood, sweat and tears is hard to find these days, and maybe always was.

Even on occasions when a sports man or woman has given everything to the cause, their great efforts are usually only visible in the sweat on their brow.

But two out of three ain't bad and in Moscow last September it was fitting that Richard Dunne should finish the night with blood on his white shirt and stitches in his face. It was the perfect visual symbol for his comic-book heroics; it confirmed what we had seen. The performance deserved to be marked by a few drops of claret. It was hard-earned too: in scything down Yuri Zhirkov he tumbled onto the running track and smacked his face horribly off the surface.

He had to change his shirt; they gave him one with a homemade number five stencilled on the back with a felt-tip pen. It only added to the legend.

Dunne has always been neat on his feet for such a big man. At one stage in the second half, he tried single-handedly to lift the siege by driving into midfield with the ball. He lost possession and should've been gone from the play; instead he chased back and executed a textbook tackle to win it back again.

Russia came in waves all night at the Luzhniki Stadium. Shay Given made superb saves, other Irish players ran themselves into the ground, but Dunne was in a zone of his own. If his goal-line stop in the first half was a highlight, the rest was hard, unrelenting labour: tackles, blocks, headers; covering and tracking and concentrating until finally it was over.

It finished a scarcely believable 0-0. In hindsight, it feels as if Dunne didn't just defy the Russians on the night, but reality itself.

Tommy Conlon

Sunday Indo Sport

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