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.
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.
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.
Euro 2012 play-off: Republic of Ireland vs Estonia.
180 minutes to end ten years of pain,
to return to the world stage,
to deploy the Green Army across Europe,
to bury all the doom and gloom,
to exorcise the ghosts of Paris.
Come On You Boys In Green
The Republic of Ireland face Estonia in the qualifying play-offs for Euro 2012. Get behind the campaign. Back Giovanni Trapattoni’s Irish squad as they strive to return the national team to the world stage, a first tournament since 2002, and our first European Championships since 1988. Whether you’ll be in the Aviva Stadium for the second leg or watching on TV, Go Green on November 15.