Sport Soccer

Friday 24 November 2017

Don't qualify -- Italia 90 led to banking crisis

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

This week the Department of Finance found €3.6bn wedged in the back of the sofa. Next week we play Estonia in the first leg of the Euro play-offs.

So is this be our lucky month? Can we beat Estonia, the luckiest team in Europe? Is Trap haunted? And will Tallinn become the new Lisdoonvarna?

If I was to answer these questions immediately it would take the suspense out of the column. So in the meantime we will give you a brief history of Estonia. You'd never know, it might even come up in the Leaving.

History of Estonia: invaded by their greedy neighbours, but finally became independent in 1992. So that's it.

And here's an interesting linguistic twist. The national stadium in Estonia is named A Le Coq after a local beer. It's probably a lovely name over there and we hope they don't sack half their workers, like Aviva did.

But Estonia is a prosperous country. Mothers are given 18 months' paid leave after having a baby, and the women are among the most beautiful in the world.

So how then is Tallinn, the capital, the new Lisdoonvarna? It seems there are far more women than men living in the city. It probably goes back to WWII when the Estonian men were slaughtered in their thousands.

And here's a cautionary tale.

This man from a county that touches the sea married a girl from a country where women do as they're told. There was no such thing as asking for Sky Multiroom or control of the zapper so she could watch a soap during a Champions League game.

The foreign wife catered for her husband's every need and I'm not just talking about peeling his spuds and surfing the hardened soles of his feet with an emery board.

As happens in such situations a child came along. The youngster was enrolled at the local school.

That's when the trouble started. The woman from the country where women did their husbands' bidding, soon became friends with the indigenous mothers and she became more Irish than the Irish themselves.

The local mna na hEireann emancipated her.

She's out every second night at bingo or pilates and has graduated to drinking Guinness without blackcurrant.

Now to the proposition that the Estonians were very lucky to get this far in the Euros.

A Serbian defender scored an impossible own goal from the far edge of his own penalty area -- with his head. Then the Serb 'keeper let a runny snot of a shot slither over the frost and into the goal through his frozen fingers.

The North of Ireland gave away four of the softest goals ever, and other results went Estonia's way.

But the Estonians are a gritty, proud nation who saw off invaders from Sweden, Germany and Russia (twice). It will not be easy in Tallinn, but we can get a draw.

Trap was being just a tad sarcastic when he said he had won all those Seria A titles because he was lucky. But he is. We should have been eaten alive in Russia and we were given a dodgy penalty against Armenia.

It's not all luck. Trap is decisive. He has a plan. Age has made him stronger. Trap has nothing to prove as a manager and you dare not cross him, as any banjo player will tell you.

Trap's team may not play open, attacking football, but it's so long since we reached a major final no one really cares how we get there. I like this team. They give their all and if they did get a little bit of luck, well God loves a trier.


But there may well be hitherto unforeseen political consequences resulting from our possible qualification.

President Michael D might write an epic poem and the Troika will almost definitely prohibit us from playing in the finals next summer.

Think about the catastrophic effect on the national coffers when Irish fans spend all their money in Poland and Ukraine. It will break the country.

The borrowing frenzy started off back around the time of Italia 90. Up to then we thought credit cards were for scraping the skin off hard butter for soldiers.

I know a fan who borrowed three grand for a ride-on lawn mower he never purchased at a time when Mercs were selling for only a thousand more. I wouldn't mind, but you could cover the same man's lawn with the wrapper from a sliced pan.

Maybe our luck is back.

Who knows, we might find a few billion in an old sock.

A vigilant turf-cutter could uncover a gold hoard dumped in a bog by a monk on the run or the Department of Finance will pay the bond holders from forgotten money stashed in the office tea canister with the little pusheens on the front.

Irish Independent

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