Tuesday 16 January 2018

FAI out of tune in dire Irish swansong

THE FAI issued a statement following Thursday night's embarrassing -- and let's not mince words here, that's exactly what it was -- display against Spain.

In the statement, the Irish fans were praised for once again proving "that they are amongst the very best in the world" and "brought great pride to our country".

"The abiding memory that we will take away from this match will be the many thousands of Irish fans singing The Fields of Athenry right up to and beyond the final whistle," said FAI CEO John Delaney.

Well, we're sorry, but the abiding memory that football supporters, as opposed to party-goers, will take away is of our national team being made to look like a second-rate schoolboy side while the man charged with managing them stood and watched, seemingly amazed that such a thing could happen and totally clueless as to how to stop it.

When you pick a team of players who lack the ability to play possession football and then instruct them to try to hold the ball for as long as possible in the forlorn hope that your opposition have a sufficiently 'off' night that might gift you a scoreless draw, you are asking for trouble.

No amount of singing can erase that memory and instead of pandering to the crowd, the FAI might concentrate their efforts on improving that cold reality. Either that or maybe we should adapt the UEFA 'We care about football' slogan to 'We care about singing' and be done with it.

* * * * *

ONCE we finish licking our Euro 2012 wounds, we can look forward to the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup. Among our Group C opponents, of course, are Germany who may by then be European champions.

All is not rosy in the German garden, however, where a debate is raging over manager Joachim Loew's preference for striker Mario Gomez over Miroslav Klose, who has been reduced to the role of late, late sub.

The popular view deems Klose as more of a team man, whereas Gomez is perceived as too much of an individual. However, after Gomez's three goals in two games, Loew must be smiling at his critics.

Whether Gomez can maintain that scoring rate in the bigger games ahead is doubtful, and so far there's no sign of Germany's other striker, Lukas Podolski, helping out. Klose could yet be the key to German hopes.

* * * * *

STRANGE as it may seem, although they are World and European champions, Spain fielded a team against Ireland last Thursday, which was younger in every department.

Ten years ago, in the World Cup in Japan and South Korea, Ireland lost on penalties to Spain in a match they really should have won.

Goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas is the only survivor from that Spanish team, and he is five years younger than Shay Given who also played in '02.

In defence, the Irish conceded 16 years to their opposite numbers, in midfield it was only three years, while up front, Robbie Keane conceded four years to goal ace, Fernando Torres.

In total, Ireland conceded an average two and a half years in every position, leading one to suggest that, while Spain were adopting the Barcelona style of play over the past 10 years, Ireland were standing still with the same old tactics -- and not enough infusions of young talent.

* * * * *

WHAT, you may ask, is the world coming to when two of the finest basketball players, both with perfect eyesight, turn up at press conference wearing glasses.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat and Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City Thunder are among many NBA players who have taken to sporting thick-rimmed spectacle frames which contain either clear glass, plastic, or nothing at all.

Geek chic, they call it. Utter nonsense, we call it.

Fergus McDonnell

and Seán Ryan


Sunday Indo Sport

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