Thursday 19 April 2018

Billy Keane: St Coleman can light way to long overdue good night in Vienna

The Republic of Ireland haven't beaten since 1963 - 17 years after the birth of Donald Trump. Photo: Getty Images
The Republic of Ireland haven't beaten since 1963 - 17 years after the birth of Donald Trump. Photo: Getty Images
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

There's no need for a guide book or a session on an analyst's couch. Believe me, all you need to know is right here.

There is Vienna lore, gore, sex and sport down in the scrolls below.

Vienna - which always boasts of good nights - is famous for Freud and his theories may be of some use to Ireland in our quest for World Cup qualification. But before we go any further, we will eat a bite.

Wiener Schnitzel is a famous fried Vienna dish of breaded veal. I wonder if it's just for tourists, like the fairly official Dublin city feast of coddle.

Very few natives have ever eaten coddle. Especially those who live in parts of the city where there are several sets of knives and forks laid out on the table for the eating of several courses, and not just on Christmas Day.

Our two capitals have much in common. Johann Strauss composed 'The Blue Danube' and our friend John Sheahan composed 'The Marino Waltz'.

Sports writers will lose all self-respect with sentences like - Daryl Horgan waltzed through the Austrian defence like a knife through butter. Vienna is to the waltz what Kilfenora is to céilí music.

But we will go back to Freud, for a while anyway. Freud brought sex into everything. Religion, another Freudian obsession, will play a part in our big-game strategy as you will find out later on in the article.

And as usual we will deviate ever so slightly to an interesting confluence of sex and religion.

There was an old man who was so old he should never buy green bananas and he was asked if he still had mind for women.

"God help us", replied the old man, "but all I want now at this hour of my life is someone to answer the rosary."

Here in the birthplace of psychoanalysis our Irish team must get the mental preparation just right.

We haven't beaten Austria since 1963. I know this particular hex is not as long as the 111 years of a wait for the All Blacks to get beaten but it's still 53 years, which is nearly half of 111 and 17 years after the birth of Donald Trump.

History often repeats itself and not just every 50 or a hundred years. Trump followed Brexit. Our soccer players will know they are part of a movement. Teams feed off the achievements of their peers. Victory is contagious.

Freud practised in Vienna but Roy Keane is a shrink who is no shrinking violet. I know that's a desperate line but I couldn't help myself. By the way violets do not shrink.

Roy took the heat off the players by attacking Everton and their manager Ronald Koeman. You'll never beat the Keanes Ronny boy. Hit one of us and you hit us all.

Now it seems Everton are being difficult about James McCarthy. It's the classic 'club v country' conundrum.

Will he play or will he stay? It seems to me the controversy could well be a globalisation issue, in the sense that corporations see their organisations as independent republics within the states they operate in.

Roy put them in their place. Club should never be bigger than country. Martin O'Neill and Roy will be going on about 1963 and all that.

World Cup glory awaits and we are blessed with excellent management teams right now, both in rugby and in soccer.

One-off games are our forté, in both sports. The big tournaments stretch the resources of small countries and the frequency of the games leads to tiredness and injuries.

We do get stuck in and our teams have to work very hard to keep the opposition as unsettled as a wife with a good-looking au pair.

Austria has the twice the population of Ireland.

They have beaten us 6-0 on two occasions. We are playing away from home. As you might well have guessed by now, Vienna is in Austria.

Aer Lingus must have thought it was in America. They were charging €700 last July. What's next lads? Coin slots in the toilets? Pay per pee is it?

There will still be a good scattering of Irish at the game. The Irish soccer fans are greater than the sum of their parts.

I was at one of the Euro 2016 games in France. It was the first time I had been at a big soccer tournament and didn't know what to expect.

We had a ball. Our fans really are the best in the world with very few bad ones and there is a lovely vibe going on between the players and the supporters.

A draw would be a great result but the 'Miracle of Chicago' will spur us on to a win and the near certain elimination of Austria.

Ireland are the bookies' outsiders but we have our very own saint who was martyred near Vienna in Stockerau, back around the time when Brian Boru was taking on the Vikings.

Saint Colman was on his way to the Holy Land when he was tortured and martyred by the Austrians. The locals thought he was a spy.

It was a case of mistaken identity. St Colman's sarcophagus is to be found in Melk Abbey, up by the high altar, and he's known as St Coloman in these parts.

I suppose Roy and Martin will hardly have the Irish team roaring out "revenge for St Colman" when our boys run out onto the Ernst-Happel-Stadion, named after a famous Austrian footballer. King Coloman of Hungary was named after our saint. So there.

St Colman was the author of several miracles and it is said the scaffold he was martyred upon took root and grew into a beautiful tree. So there. Again. A prayer to St Colman might not go astray.

It is also reported he can help women find husbands. Vienna could become the Lisdoonvarna of Austria. But there's no way the Austrians could have as much fun.

We could also turn to Father Ted in our hour of need.

Back when Trap was in charge, Thomas and John James Kelly draped the front of a Vienna pub with a huge banner and it read - "Is there anything to be said for saying another Mass?"

I think it might be best to stick with St Coleman - the Seamus version. We were beaten 3-1.

Irish Independent

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