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another disaster predicted
Jim Travers claims that the match between the Republic of Ireland and San Marino has given us the space to reflect on our beliefs, that what we thought in the past has now come true. Ireland was terrible by any standards and deserved to walk away with nothing more than a loss.
Once again the San Marino janitor preformed absolutely amazingly in his attempts to maintain the toilets in pristine condition as Irish fans stormed into them throwing up everything they could muster as the match outside dragged on. Many Irish fans wondered if it would have been better to stay home and wait for a schoolboy league match on Sunday where some real exciting football could be see for nothing, well possibly the bus fare to the park. Ireland started off with vigour and enthusiasm but San Marino came back and that was that.
Brian Kerr in the commentary box for TV3 done his best to raise the tempo for the armchair supporters, but at half time the armchair supporters were left with a dilemma, do we turn over and watch the England versus Spain match or do we head to the comedy channel and watch Rab C Nesbitt. I for my part turned on the Comedy channel, flicking every now and again to see if Ireland had got over the butterfly syndrome and began to play real football; well I must be forgiven for living in hope.
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When Kilbane scored in the second half you could hear the roar of Irish supporters all around the country, not at the fact that Ireland was in the lead but Ireland had scored. The mutters that we were fielding a young experimental side is no excuse for the shoddy play we seen from high paid professional footballers who perform in the greatest football league in the world every week but displayed a collective demonstration of their true value within that league. The match was boring, lacked any drive or hope for the future, it was what everybody said way back when poor old Steve Staunton was appointed national team manager by an organisation that knows as much about the appointment of international football managers as Noddy knows about postman Pat, that appointment was ill thought out and executed.
One comes back to the sacking of Brian Kerr at a time when Ireland did not really need a change of manager but a change in approach by the FAI to the manager and his ideas for change in the future, thereby proving that the FAI as an organisation is more interested in short term success at the expense of building a team for the future. Roll on Croke Park and the Welsh match when Ireland supporters can drown their sorrows in the knowledge that another international soccer team was given the opportunity to play football on a pitch that was worthy of their presence in the country.
Irish soccer supporters are the greatest supporters in the world and the match against San Marino proved this, for in the long run why would anybody want to travel such distances to see a team performance as poor as Irelandís sad, sad display of soccer nonsense. When San Martino scored the equaliser one could not help question the whole set-up of Irish international soccer, that appears to be controlled and governed by men in pin striped suits who have a greater interest in the financial stability of the FAI and their own personal interests in the financial windfalls should Ireland scrape any sort of international result.
When the final whistle was blown the thoughts that must have gone through the Irish managerís mind must have been ďI think I just might secure my job for another bit of timeĒ. The alarm bells are now sounding in Merrion Square as the FAIís short term interests are once again put in chaos and somebody except themselves must pay for the disaster. Steve Staunton is just one match away from being sacked from his position, as the FAI secretly scramble to secure the services of anybody who will take a rag tag team to future glory and who will later give that recruit the Jack Charlton treatment for his failure to win, win, win and go on winning for the sake of the FAI. Ireland played with no conviction or passion for the game. They floundered and passed the ball around with no real sense of purpose and gave away balls that would have signalled instant disaster if they had played any other team other than San Marino. It was a pointless exercise waiting to hear the opinions from the Irish manager, for his opinions would have disguised his total disappointment with his teamís ability to control the match from the start. The San Marion team will go to their local watering hole with a greater disappointment of losing the game, as the Ireland team book a flight to Lourdes to give thanks to a greater power for helping them scrape out of the hole they dug themselves.
The panel on TV3 once again keep referring to the Jack Charlton era as if the slide to disaster began when Charlton was given the boot. Charlton did not allow the FAI dictate his style of management and on many occasions this was evidently clear when things went slightly wrong. Staunton is an FAI yes man as was his predecessors, with the exception of Kerr. When one reflects on the Irish performance one would say that there was nothing in this match that provided any glimmer of light for the future. Yes the young lads who came onto the pitch were novices to international football standards, but qualifier matches are not matches to experiment in hope a break would be made. Robbie Keane, unless the goal is empty is not a striker with international standards of quality. Duff once again showed his ability to play football, but his lack of match fitness proved his inability to make the final moves count. Ian Harte was drafted into the team as a clear sign that the Irish team is still not settled as a working united team.
With the final whistle blown, Ireland will do its best to forget about being thrown out an aircraft window at 30,000 feet with the expectation that it will land on its feet. When the Welsh match comes our way, Ireland will need to have progressed in standard by at least 100% or the best part of the Irish team will be wishing that they should have played Gaelic football instead of playing a game they really cannot get the hang of. There was no clear outright player that sparkled on the pitch. Kilbane won man of the match but that would have to be expected when there was no other real man of the match present to contest the place. Kilbaneís goal gave Ireland an opener that Ireland failed to exploit and was further eroded when San Marino scored the equalizer.
So where do we go from here? It is time the FAI handed the control for the appointment of international soccer managers over to either current or former professional football players who understand and know the qualities that make a real international soccer manager. It is time the FAI was relegated to the operations of schoolboy leagues for after all, after years of control in League of Ireland affairs the league of Ireland is but a league of no major significance compared to what the GAA have developed over many years. It is time to appoint a board of professional footballers who will control the interests of Irish international soccer into the future.
In the final analysis, it is good to know that a stadium as magnificent as Croke Park will be used for games that are truly worthy of playing on a pitch we can all be really proud of. If Shamrock Rovers ground in Tallaght is an example of the corporate interests that surrounded the sale of their site at Milltown then we must not hold our breath for anything better emerging from the site at Landsdowne Road in the foreseeable future. The FAI and its friends have a lot of questions to answer, and Irish soccer supporters deserve to be given those answer.