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State of Play: Euro 2012

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find Out Why You’re Mean to Me

Back to reality. As Euro 2012 builds to a climax, the last camper-van has long since pulled out of Poland but the Irish have left a lasting impression. The whole world saw the pictures from Gdansk and the word repeated again and again from fans around the globe was ‘respect.’ How shameful then, that Irish supporters should encounter such a lack of it at home. Continue reading →

Hungary Like the Wolf

Foley-gate may be no more with Giovanni Trapattoni firmly drawing a line under the subject but there are a few more faces in the Irish squad who could face tough conversations with the manager after Monday’s final warm-up game with Hungary. Players like Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt have some work to do in Budapest or they may find themselves down the pecking order come the showdown with Croatia just six days later. Continue reading →

Montecatini Hills Chop: Axed Foley Cops Cruel Blow

The Kevin Foley saga has cast the first cloud over Ireland’s Euro 2012 preparations. The Wolves defender confirmed he wouldn’t be staying on to watch the campaign from the sidelines, now that he has been cut loose from the squad. Yet decades of experience have thought Giovanni Trapattoni there can be no room for sentiment. With three ferocious battles ahead for the Green Army, all’s fair in love and football. Continue reading →

Preview: Who’s the Bos?

And so it begins. Ireland’s great adventure back on the European stage kicks into action with the first pre-tournament friendly against Bosnia & Herzegovina in Dublin. When we took our seats at the old Lansdowne Road ten years ago to send Ireland on their way to the Far East with a farewell game against Nigeria, who would have believed it would be a decade before we would be back at football’s top table? Continue reading →

Derry Die Hard Yippee KO’d

It’s exactly like measuring four gallons of water in a five gallon jug. How do you decide who to pick and who to leave out in your midfield for a first European Championships since 1988? James McClean has been crashed out of Giovanni Trapattoni’s Euro plans like an aeroplane landing at a snow-covered LAX airport. The brightest spark at the Stadium of Light, who received international clearance from FIFA yesterday, has NOT been named in Trap’s squad for the friendly this month against the Czech’s. Continue reading →

Get Into Them, They’re E.A.S.Y

The morning after the night before. It started out horribly. Paired with Spain, the world champions and defending European title holders. Then came Croatia, who we drew with 0-0 at the Aviva earlier this year. With two balls remaining, it looked like we might draw England but it’s the Italians who we will face on […] Continue reading →

Irish Draw on History for Inspiration

The draw for Euro 2012 takes place on Friday with the Republic of Ireland taking pride of place in the hat in Kiev. Ten long years we’ve waited to return to the world stage. Twenty-four years on from Stuttgart, Trap has led us back among the continent’s elite. But he doesn’t want Poland, Ukraine, Italy, or England. Continue reading →

Listen Up Craicow, The Irish are Comin’

Within seconds of the final whistle in Paris two years ago, the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feelin” boomed out across the Stade de France. Every bass thump stabbing at the splintered hearts of the Irish fans who sat in disbelief. The French hung around for a matter of mere minutes before disappearing into the Parisien night, barely registering that they had just qualified for the World Cup but embarrassed and unable to look the visiting fans in the eyes. Two years on and instead of facing into 90 minutes of nail-biting tension, the Aviva Stadium is going to rock to the rhythm of the Boys in Green’s victory parade. Ireland are going back to a major finals and tonight’s gonna be a good night. Continue reading →

Trap Gets Ireland up the Pole

Well, no one was expecting that. All the pre-match thought predicted a cagey Irish performance, a low-scoring game, and deemed an away goal a bonus. We can book the flights to Poland and Ukraine. A 4-0 win reflected a dominant Irish performance, particularly in the second half and the nation is waking up today with massive smile on its face. Dublin on Tuesday is going to be a hell of a party. Continue reading →

Preview: Ireland Caught Between Estone and a Euro Place

A return to the dreaded two-game shootout but this one feels different. Ireland are no longer the underdogs and we are shifting uncomfortably in our seats. Let’s put ourselves in Estonia’s boots, however. They lost four games in qualifying but wins away to the North, Slovenia, and Serbia catapulted them into dreamland. Then the play-off draw gave them the easiest of the top seeds, the Irish who haven’t qualified for a tournament in ten years. With the game drawing ever closer, the Estonians are giddy with anticipation. A first ever tournament beckons. They are us in 1987. Continue reading →

Time We Sprung the Play-Off Trap

GIVEN the law of averages we’re due one, aren’t we? No, I’m not talking about a smile from Mick McCarthy, or an expression from Trap that doesn’t leave the nation baffled (cats in bags – what?), but a win in a play-off. It doesn’t have to be a nine-goal thriller. Or even a thriller, for that matter. At this stage there aren’t many people who wouldn’t take a scrappy affair as long as it ends with us packing our bags (without cats please, Giovanni) for Poland and the Ukraine next Summer. Continue reading →

Pride, In the Name of Duff

It’s time to ditch the cynicism. While England debates whether John Terry is deserving of her captaincy, a much-maligned Irish football team has more important responsibilities; two games to revive a nation that has been kicked from pillar to post and that is crying out for something to restore our battered pride. Continue reading →

Only End Result Matters in End Game

The result is all that matters? Not any more for the Irish. Giovanni Trapattoni has delivered the Republic to a play-off, a 50-50 shoot-out to decide who goes to Euro 2012 next summer. Yet, the manner of that achievement has polarised public opinion on our national team. It is ironic that having instilled a no-lose mentality into the minds of his players, culminating in the win over Armenia. Trapattoni can’t convert the Irish public. Only a win will send Ireland to the European Championships. Only a performance, will convince the people that we’re worth it. Continue reading →

Preview: Ireland’s Call to Arms

Despite some frustrating nights, Irish fans are beginning to realise that no second-placed side in Europe would fancy facing a team that hasn’t conceded a goal in 720 minutes of football. If Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland are just as miserly on Tuesday, he’ll deliver the Republic to another play-off with the ‘mentality’ that we’ve got unfinished business. Continue reading →

Preview: On our Pyrenees but Summit Still in Sight

A win is a must. Haven’t we heard that before? The Irish players are saying all the right things. Many are talking about the possibility of outright qualification. Yet, what has changed? Before the Slovakia game in the Aviva Stadium, Ireland needed a victory to go top of the group. Had we got it, combined with the subsequent heroic rearguard in Moscow, we would be sitting pretty at the top of the table now. Two wins and we would be packing our bags for Poland and Ukraine. Continue reading →

State of Play: Russia 0 Ireland 0

Armenia 4 Slovakia 0. That scoreline puts Ireland’s result in Moscow into perspective. Taking into account the reverse result in Dublin and the fact that we were second-best for most of the night, this was a heroic display by Trapattoni’s Ireland. Richard Dunne was a stand-out performer and if Russia fail to beat Slovakia next month, Ireland still have a chance of automatic qualification. Continue reading →

Preview: Mission to Moscow

After Friday’s display, Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for a first tournament since 2002 looked doomed. The reaction of the crowd at the end said it all. The team were booed off the pitch, not because they failed to score but because Irish people only demand one thing, 100% effort from everyone in a green shirt. Many people paid good money to be in the Aviva last week. Many people didn’t. We can accept limited ability but cannot except limited effort. And yet, in Moscow, Ireland have a chance to pay back their fans by finally backing up their words with a performance. Continue reading →

State of Play: Ireland 0 Slovakia 0

There were two main reasons why Ireland didn’t beat Slovakia on Friday night. Firstly, Aiden McGeady’s inept performance handicapped the home side reducing our attacking threat to just one outlet, Damien Duff. And secondly, Trapattoni chose not to replace the Spartak Moscow player until six minutes to go. Continue reading →

Preview: Vak to the Fut-Eur

Slovakia; The first of four games that will decide if Giovanni Trapattoni has completed his mission to turn the Republic of Ireland into worthy performers on the game’s top stage. A win at Lansdowne Road will put daylight between ourselves and the Slovaks and pitch Ireland in a two-way shoot-out with Russia for automatic qualification. Provided, of course, Ireland back up the players’ words this week with action. Continue reading →

Trap Wants Plenty to Cro About

Preview – With the Premier League season starting on Saturday, and the spate of withdrawals from the Irish squad, we don’t expect much from tonight’s friendly with Croatia. And by now you’d think Giovanni Trapattoni would consistently pick Ireland’s best players. However, with two massive qualifying games looming, his squad selections remain as erratic as ever meaning this evening offers a last chance for someone to gate-crash the Italian’s plans. Continue reading →

State of Play: Italy 0 Ireland 2

A QUITE extraordinary night in Belgium and perhaps the first inclination that the squad Giovanni Trapattoni is moulding for Ireland may be on the cusp of big things. A second string side put a vastly superior Italian outfit to the sword and looked utterly composed in doing so. Yet, beyond all that, there may be a seed germinating in the mind of the manager that his previous first choice team may not be one to deliver the revolution he believes is possible. Like the friendly against Uruguay, this Irish team full of youth, hunger, commitment and confidence is much easier on the eye and perhaps contains some more capable of returning the Republic to the big time than others who have soldiered so far. Continue reading →

State of Play: Macedonia 0 Ireland 2

MANY people predicted Ireland would only be good enough to claim a point in Skopje last night. Missing some key players, with a makeshift defence and a lack of creativity in midfield, it was a game with many pitfalls to scupper our qualification bid. Instead, despite shortcomings in our ability to dictate the game and maintain possession, the Irish came away with a massive result. Robbie Keane made history while ensuring the Republic are in with a shot of making some more. Continue reading →

Return of the Mac; Long Night Awaits

THREE wins, three clean sheets and outright victory in the Nations Cup was a welcome return for Giovanni Trapatonni’s Ireland. A continuation of that form is vital in Macedonia this weekend but has the team shown enough to suggest they can claim three points in Skopje, a place with unhappy memories for the Irish? Continue reading →

State of Play: Ireland 1 Scotland 0

THERE was an element of the surreal about the end of the game against Scotland. Ok, it was a nothing tournament but there was a trophy for the victors and there was something dream-like about the paraphernalia of the presentation ceremony being erected in the Aviva Stadium. Robbie Keane looked almost bemused at first when he raised the Nations Cup aloft but there was a genuine outpouring of pride from the stands, even if it was on on a smaller, non-consequential scale. Continue reading →

State of Play: Republic of Ireland 5 Northern Ireland 0

For reasons best known to themselves, certain players did not report for duty for the Republic of Ireland this week. Those who claim injuries should normally be given the benefit of the doubt but to hell with that. Since Stephen Ireland decided to bury his perfectly-alive grannies, we no longer automatically believe the excuse of players who withdraw from the Irish squad. That is an indictment of the attitude of the modern day footballer. Once upon a time we thought Irish players were different. The Kevin Doyles and Shane Longs were normal lads who made their way from real football in the League of Ireland to the big time but didn’t forget those roots. We were naïve. And now when a club sends a medical scan to Dublin, we have to ask for a second opinion. For shame. Continue reading →

Preview: Tired of Irish Excuses

Not even a royal welcome for the Queen, our new favourite granny, can disguise the fact that Northern Ireland don’t exactly like us at the moment. It’s ironic that there seems plenty of players up there willing to line out for the southern neighbours while others named in the squad can’t do us the courtesy of coming up with a plausible excuse. The monarch of Britain and the President of the United States can turn up for the Republic. Tony Stokes and James McCarthy say “No we can’t.” Continue reading →

Youth Gamble Gives Trap Hand to Play

Review – It’s been a funny few days in the life of the Republic of Ireland’s international football team. Having scraped through a game we thought we could win comfortably, things looked grim for the remainder of the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Then, we send out a second string side who lose to the World Cup semi-finalists – and suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad…. Continue reading →

State of Play: Ireland 2 Uruguay 3

Póg Mo Goal’s no-holds-barred player ratings – HAD Ireland equalised to make it 3-3 at the Aviva Stadium against Uruguay, they would have been full value for the draw. Playing with an abandon that was sorely missed on Saturday, a mix of the naivety but confidence of youth, and the excessive enthusiasm of those out to impress, saw an Irish side produce ambitious football that almost came up trumps. Continue reading →

State of Play: Ireland 2 Macedonia 1

Póg Mo Goal’s no-holds-barred player ratings- WITH about 22 minutes gone of last night’s Euro 2012 qualifying game, the Republic of Ireland looked like they were about to emphatically take control of Group B. Leading 2-0 and dominating against a ragged Macedonia side, Trapattoni’s Ireland were set to post a decisive victory. A defensive unit that included three players making their competitive débuts were not fazed and were in complete control. Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady on the wings were tearing Macedonia apart. Continue reading →

Preview: I’m Having Ya Macedonia

  An infamous night in Skopje. Not so much a tangerine dream as an orange nightmare. In 1997 Mick McCarthy’s hopes of emulating Jack Charlton by leading the Republic to a World Cup finals disintegrated when an ageing Irish side fell to a disastrous 3-2 balls-up in the Balkans. A team that included a forward-line […] Continue reading →

State of Play: Will Trap take a Long shot on Shane?

GIOVANNI Trapattoni is nothing if not predictable. That may sound slightly caustic, but since taking charge of the Boys in Green, the Republic of Ireland manager has rarely been known for throwing caution to the wind. He was back to his stable best on Monday, when announcing his squad for the two games against Macedonia and Uruguay. Many of the usual suspects were there – Dunne, Duff, Kilbane, etc. However, perhaps Il Trap will surprise us all and shake things up a little. Continue reading →

State of Play: Ireland 3 Wales 0

PERHAPS the merits of the Nation’s Cup will truly be seen when the next round of fixtures takes place in May, with a genuine competitive edge. The case for abandoning football altogether was made in the first half of last night’s clash with Wales, but Ireland emerged rejuvenated after the break and posted a decisive victory. Continue reading →

Spud Watch – Stop The Press

I had written a critique of Giovanni Trapattoni’s original squad selection yesterday for next week’s clash with Wales. However, earlier today I was handed a revised squad update here at Spud Watch Towers and I’ll be f*cked if you think I’m gonna go back and re-edit all the nonsense and garble. But what has been handed to me is is the most exciting looking Irish squad in 5 years…. Continue reading →

Chelsea Want McCarthy, But Trap Doesn’t

CHELSEA are reported to have made a shock £6m bid for Irish midfielder James McCarthy ahead of tomorrow’s transfer deadline. Yet while the 20-year-old, who made a scoring return to action last week after a lengthy lay-off, has emerged as a target for the Stamford Bridge outfit, he will seek a meeting with the Irish management on his omission from the senior squad. Continue reading →

State of Play: Ireland 1 Norway 2

SHAY Given must have had a spring in his step before kick-off with the news that Joe Hart is out for a few weeks. He probably could have made a better wall for the free-kick or maybe positioned himself better but he made some very good instinctive stops and who am I to question the best goalie in the world who, hopefully, will get a chance to make Mancini see sense and get the respect that he has earned over the years in return. Continue reading →