Sunday 19 November 2017

Quinn urges Trap's men to give it a lash in true Irish spirit

David Kelly

David Kelly

More passion and less pasta are the key ingredients for Ireland's Euro 2012 qualification hopes according to Niall Quinn.

And the two-time World Cup veteran isn't averse to his former colleagues having the odd tipple before matches.

With the jury still out on manager Giovanni Trapattoni's methods and the increasing detachment of his players from normal supporters, Quinn believes that qualification for a major tournament would utterly transform the relationship.

And he points to Richard Dunne's heroics in Moscow last month as a potential turning point in Irish soccer after FAI chief executive John Delaney conceded Trapattoni's tactics have turned off paying punters.

"You would look back if we qualify and say it doesn't matter how you get there," said the Sunderland chairman, in Croke Park at the Dublin Bus community awards.

"I think we're always of that opinion; qualifying is the big thing and there's so much at stake on that, that if we qualified it would be such a big lift for everybody.

"If you sit down and work this out between the greatest football tacticians, you cannot argue with the record away from home in this group.

"If we had have had that in our time, I think we would have gone on to have done far better than we ever did. So you have to put that into a box that says, 'big credit'.

"I suppose the bit that's difficult is when you see the Irish rugby team performing heroics against Australia. You see them put their bodies on the line, you see their passion and their pride, and you see that in spades.

"Then, all of a sudden, you look at soccer and we're playing a slow, methodical game that's more about not getting beat.

"I can see why, at the moment, that's a little bit of an issue. But get over that line and I think that will all disappear.

"It's also pleasing to see the Irish lads went out for a beer beforehand and had a great result afterwards. That's something that was overplayed for years, 'Oh, we have to be professional.'

"We called for it for years, that we had to eat pasta and do it the right way. But passion is the biggest thing Ireland has.

"It's who we are, whether it's rugby -- we have a great group of players in rugby -- whether it's golf, whether it's football.

"Listen, here in Croke Park, we all know how big it can get. If you transfer that onto a football field then you have a chance.

"I think we're delighted that the Irish rugby players aren't bottled up and told to eat pasta for six weeks before they play a match, that they are human, and we need to get back to that."

Quinn stressed that he wasn't literally advocating that Ireland go on the lash before giving it a lash; however, he does believe some strides need to be made to re-attach the once taut umbilical cord that linked players and fans.

"I'm not saying that the Irish lads should all go out and drink beer, I don't mean that, but they should be welcomed and brought nearer to the people," he explained.

"In our day, we did all that and the people felt we were close to them. I think there is a little bit of a gap about it now, and the way we play probably doesn't help that gap.

"But having said that, the way Richard Dunne played, it helps that because 'Dunney' was outstanding and he showed that sort of bravado, that spirit, that leadership, that little bit of something that we all go home and feel great about.

"It gives you hope when you see a performance like that. Hopefully, we can start to believe and maybe then the spirit will come back."

Quinn, who brushed off errant reports that he was on the verge of quitting Sunderland, was beaming after seeing his Black Cats side banish the demons of a poor start by thumping Stoke 4-0 on Sunday, capping a superlative sporting weekend for the one-time Manortown boy.

"My son won his Gaelic and soccer match. My wife is in 'Celebrity Bainisteoir' and one of her players won the minors with Tipp, and there was the Irish rugby team. And, of course, the Dubs won. It was one of those weekends that makes it all worthwhile."

Irish Independent

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