Kenny looks forward to a morale boost
What a relief it must be to back a European venture where we actually have a hope, says Ronald Quinlan
HE'S already proved a dab hand at basking in the reflected glory of global figures such as US President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and China's Vice President Xi Jinping, taking full advantage of their visits to Ireland to snatch a few days as a 'statesman', as opposed to leader of a country up to its ears in unmanageable debt.
So when Giovanni Trapattoni's men take to the pitch against Croatia in Poznan today for the first of their matches in Euro 2012, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will doubtless be praying harder than most for a victory, knowing full well that any success from Ireland on the field could give his Government a welcome breather off it.
While ordinary fans will be hoping for a reprise of Euro '88 and the 1990 World Cup in which Jack Charlton's charges triumphed over England and Romania for the sheer joy such historic wins bring, as a politician, Mr Kenny will be acutely aware of the morale-boosting possibilities advancement by Ireland beyond the first round of this year's championship could deliver.
With the economy in the same kind of rag order that it was in 1988, our Taoiseach will be primed to ride the wave of popularity that sporting success gives to even the most unfortunate and -- in some cases -- downright undeserving of political leaders.
Not that the inscrutable Mr Kenny should be viewed through the same prism as the late Charles Haughey, who took to the pitch with the Irish soccer team in 1990 to soak up the applause of the fans following their World Cup quarter final defeat to tournament hosts, Italy.
And who knows? Besides providing the Taoiseach with the kind of 'bread and circuses' with which the caesars used to distract the Roman public, perhaps the bid for glory by Trapattoni's men might teach him something far more valuable. How to get a result in Europe, maybe?