State of Play: Italy 0 Ireland 2

players v italy 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

robbie v mac wide 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

Republic of Ireland v Macedonia - EURO 2012 Qualifier 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 →

Having a Domestic: Reap What Eu Sow

rovers juve 1 wide DESPITE the virtual collapse of full-time football here, Irish clubs may never have a better opportunity than now to make the European breakthrough. The draws for next season’s cup competitions have put the group stages of the Champions League and Europa League within sight of Ireland’s participants. Continue reading →

State of Play: Ireland 1 Scotland 0

ireland cup wide 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

keane v NI wide 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

stokes 1 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 →

The Italian Lob; Milan Over the Moon(walk)

boateng ac milan Having entertained their supporters with a 4-1 thrashing of Cagliari, AC Milan then hosted a party at the San Siro on Saturday to celebrate their 18th Scudetto. As he had promised to do if Milan won the title, Kevin Prince Boateng showed off his moonwalking skills while dressed in a Michael Jackson costume. Continue reading →

Champions Milan Conquer Rome

milan champions MASSIMILIANO Allegri has joined a select group including Arrigo Sacchi, Fabio Capello and Alberto Zaccheroni by winning the Serie A title in his first year with AC Milan. A draw in Rome was all the visitors needed, and it was what they settled for in the end despite having controlled the second half of the game. Milan’s joint top scorer, Zlatan Ibrahimović, has now finished on top of the league every year for the past eight years. Continue reading →

The Italian Lob: Roma v AC Milan

zlatan COACH Massimiliano Allegri moved from Cagliari to Milan last Summer, and he is on the verge of delivering instant success. His side’s 1-0 win over Bologna last week was more laboured than comfortable, but the result means that Saturday’s trip to Rome can effectively bring an end to this season’s title race. Continue reading →

The Italian Lob – Scanning the Scudetto

Flamini PÓG Mo Goal teams up with Dels’ Football Tips to scan the Scudetto, as the Serie A season counts down to a finale. AC Milan are within touching distance of this season’s Serie A title after doing just about enough to pick up three points at home against Bologna. An eighth-minute goal from Mathieu Flamini eventually decided the game, and left Milan needing a maximum of two points from their final three games. Continue reading →

Haven’t we been here before?

wenger A COUPLE of weeks have passed since the last blog, and how have things changed since then? Four competitions have faded into lingering hopes in one (scratch that – Bolton did a Bolton on us again on Sunday; it’s a 150/1 shot as I speak), and the usual weaknesses this team possess continue to haunt us. The most frustrating part in all of this is that the majority of neutrals love the way Arsenal play football, slick and stylish going forward, easy on the eye – like a Karen Koster xposé special, but at the end of the day, there is a soft centre in this team which prevents the obvious potential turning into success and silverware. In fact I’m sure the lovely Miss Koster probably possesses as much silver in her shiny wardrobe collection as the entire Arsenal team combined. Continue reading →

Youth Gamble Gives Trap Hand to Play

trap 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

ireland uru 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 →