JOE Hart wasn't injured after all and Shay Given returned to the bad place he's been in now for months, despite Wednesday's brief international respite; like a prisoner being let out for Christmas dinner. Damien Duff is, in my opinion, also about to enter a bad place. He looked out of sorts again against City – getting subbed for Gera and may now be in danger of losing his place for their next outing. What are we without a Duff firing on all cylinders? It's like The Beatles without John and Paul, Ant and Dec without Dec, porn without the cum-shot, Play The Game without Derek Davis – It doesn't bare thinking about.

JOE Hart wasn’t injured after all and Shay Given returned to the bad place he’s been in now for months, despite Wednesday’s brief international respite; like a prisoner being let out for Christmas dinner. Damien Duff is, in my opinion, also about to enter a bad place. He looked out of sorts again against City – getting subbed for Gera and may now be in danger of losing his place for their next outing. What are we without a Duff firing on all cylinders? It’s like The Beatles without John and Paul, Ant and Dec without Dec, porn without the cum-shot, Play The Game without Derek Davis – It doesn’t bare thinking about.

But it’s looking that way. For so long we were blessed with having Duff and he was our one creative outlet. Duff and Robbie Keane used to give it us all a lift but we are now facing the prospect of our two goal threats from Brian Kerr’s golden generation of late 90’s youth tournaments having to take a step down.

Keane is only 30, Duff is 31. Seeing Duff being hauled off was a real kick in the nothings-at -all. On one channel, The Chuckle Brothers (Cowen and Lenihan) were dishing out our national doctrine like two school boys apologising in front of the whole school for shiteing on the principal’s car. Switching between Sky Sports and RTE, watching Duff a few yards off the pace, giving the ball away – a shadow of the man he used to be – a tear rolled from my eye onto my naked body (I always watch Duff play naked). But as I switched channels, my erection, now limp, became limper at the sight of Brian Cowen. Duff’s demise correlates with our country’s plight, like one of those Shakespeare plays where the bad weather is reflected in the mood of what’s happening (there’s a word there somewhere but I cant think of it..onomatopoeia or ambidextrous).

It seems he, like many of our players, is destined for bench time and is not getting any younger. It may be the end of an era now with Keane, Duff and O’Shea having to do some serious soul-searching in January’s transfer window, like the end of The Breakfast Club when they all came of age, went their separate ways, and joined Ipswich and Celtic.

Duff’s sole contribution was to set Zabaleta up for a goal. Stephen Kelly did play the 90 minutes and looked quite useful. It’s just not the same being naked watching him play.

Brum – Chelsea

Stephen Carr put in one of the defensive performances of the season so far for Birmingham. He was quite simply everywhere on the pitch and with the game nearing an end Carr made a heroic double block, with shades of McGrath vs Italy in ’94. Now there was a man who played for us even when his knees were out drinking the night before. McGrath never chose to retire from international football early, so Carr should maybe have another think about it. He could learn a lot from McGrath; how to drink turpentine and broken glass being one thing.

It’s a disgrace really that Don Givens was in charge of recruitment for so long when you consider what type of a human he is. The amount of players that have probably slipped through because he came a knocking on their door. You’d be more inclined to let the Jehovah’s witnesses in for punch and pie than that urchin. Another fantastic FAI moment, employing Don Givens as the negotiator and flying him around the world in the FAI plane to recruit Irish players – right up there with hiring Stevie Wonder as an air-traffic-controller.

It’s hard to see how Trap could sweet-talk Carr back into playing for us given the nature of his communication skills, if the press conference after Wednesday’s Norway game was anything to go by. Manuela, staring at him with open mouthed bewilderment, tried speaking to him in English and Italian with little joy over a 2-3 minute period where he was like Leslie Nielsen on crack. As I watched on, memories of my beginners Chinese college aural came flooding back as I tried valiantly to list off all the pork dishes from the menu at Ho Ho.

So if Trapattoni has been trying to talk Carr into changing his mind, then you get the impression that it’s never going to happen. It’s a crying shame considering his form is probably better than his heyday at Spurs.

Keith Fahey continues to be the most technically competent Irish midfielder available. He played and impressed for the full match, keeping Alexander Hleb out of the team. I don’t like to boast but I’ve been saying how decent he is for months. To celebrate being prophetic, I’m off out on a night on the tiles with Paul McGrath and Don Givens where we will drink pure lead and Mr Sheen cocktails. Don Givens will use his negotiating skills to get us all hookers and maybe let McGrath drive the FAI plane, hopefully without Stevie Wonder noticing in the flight tower.


Stephen Hunt came off early again, this time at Blackpool. For all his bravado, he can look very headless and foolish at times, especially with his ridiculous haircut. This was the problem with Stadium Rock in the 80’s; lots of bombastic, pompous looking males with long hair, keyboard or multi-neck guitars, musically devoid of any kind of substance (bar coke), that are still only popular in Poland, Latvia and ClareGalway. Stephen Hunt is a brave player who always tries but he is devoid of musical substance.

Kevin Doyle was one the scoresheet and created chances early on – this goal could be one of the most crucial in his career, getting him out of a drought which he has never experienced before. He, like Hunt, is also a brave player who gives everything, combined with a lot more musical substance and a decent hair-cut.

Kevin Foley went off and made way for an attacking player; the first time this season that, when he has started a game for Wolves, he didn’t finish it. I understand completely if you think this stat is sh*t.

Jon Walters

I declared on Wednesday evening, if he scored 10 goals in the Premiership I’d eat his ass. He’s on three already after scoring twice in Stoke’s 3-0 away win to West Brom so I may yet be in for a feast of cling-on warriors come next May.

The striker is currently the highest scoring Irish player in the Premier League. Funny though how his three goals have come against teams that were in the Championship last year. I’m not trying to imply that he is a Championship player. I am really.

Marc Wilson, another who was stood up by Trapattoni the other night, did play but I can safely say I won’t be going near Glenn Whelan’s arse come May as he was an unused sub.

Man U

John O’ Shea failed yet again to get game time at United in one of the worst weekends yet for Irish players in the Premiership. This is a worry as, from what I can see, Sheasy has barely put a foot wrong this year and isn’t been giving a fair crack of the whip by Ferguson.

Having said that, at least Sheasy is making the bench unlike Darron “All I am is a lad with an OK shot that doesn’t even have an OK shot anymore” Gibson. At the moment, it appears there’s more chance of The Smiths playing in Old Trafford this season than Darron Gibson, and I imagine his replica jerseys are selling about as well as Craig McLachlan’s last album.

Blackburn Villa

An all-Irish centre half pairing of Ciaran Clark and Richard Dunne for Villa as they went down to Blackburn. Though technically Clark is a plastic paddy, it was great to see two Irish lads together playing reasonably well beside each other, going out live across the planet on Sky Sports. It made me feel proud but then I switched to RTE’s emergency news bulletin with two more Irish lads going out live across the planet not playing quite as well. I didn’t feel as proud – though technically Cowen isn’t Irish as his mother was side of ham and his father was Pob.

Stephen Ireland played for Villa and was a pale, bald imitation of the player he was two years ago. Shame really, he’s such a nice lad. Still no sign of Keith Andrews for Blackburn. I won’t lie to you, I don’t really care.

Seamus Ramos

Coleman started for Everton in their 2-2 draw at Sunderland last night but was subbed in the 66th minute.


Sean St Ledger got booked and chipped in valiantly as Preston shipped another three goals to QPR. He’s the opposite of a class act, St Ledger. He has done nothing to justify such hype. How his agent has created this rumour and how people believe this is beyond me – it’s like Louis Walsh and Jedward. To be fair, Jedward are probably better at defending than this charlatan. The guy is a fraud and another product of Ireland’s witless recruitment of third rate English league players. A manager more in touch with how his players are performing on a regular basis would be doing all within his powers to squeeze him out and Clark in, over the coming internationals.

Darren O Dea’s Ipswich were beaten by Hull. Kilbane, playing on the left wing, was subbed as he was about as creative as a blocked bowl. I wonder does the Russian or Slovakian manager read Spud Watch? SputnikWatch? And do they laugh at how our manager keeps picking players that are very much below average? They probably don’t laugh though, them Russians don’t have a great sense of humour. Remember Arnie in Red Heat? Or the Russian cartoon film that was on last Christmas? Frightened the shite out of me. Joe Stalin would have fed McShane and Kilbane to the pigs by now.

Shane Long’s Reading are two points away from a play-off spot as his side drew with close rivals Watford with Noel Hunt scoring.

Liam Lawrence may have played. BBC teletext kept skipping the page I was trying to see. Maybe it was trying to tell me something?

Greg Cunningham’s Leicester lost 2-0 and Zabaleta scored for Man City so a bad weekend for young Cunningham. And spare a thought for Gary Doherty – he scored an own goal for Charlton. What a b*llocks.


Apparently Cillian Sheridan scored a peach of a goal for CSKA Sofia. He came on for a lad called Michel Platini near the end which goes to show how shi*t that league is if a 55-year-old French bell-end can play in it.

Spud Watch thinks that…

With the quick fire games of the Carling Cup in February, a more versatile, ambitious and hard working Irish manager would seize the moment. There is still scope for a good team if he was willing and did some real hard work with talking players out of retirement and taking a look at what’s there. On paper the following looks like a handy pool of players that could be talked back into the fold or by becoming fit again.

Given/Paddy Kenny

Stehpen Carr/Stephen Kelly

John O’Shea/Dunne/Clark centre-half

Cunningham at left back

Fahey centre/McCarthy/Clark/Meyler


Walters/Tony Stokes/Keane/Long/Sheridan

As Tony Montana said in Scar Face “F*ck Darron Gibson, f*ck Glenn Whelan, f*ck Paul Green, and f*ck the f*cking Diaz brothers. I bury those cock-a-roaches”

Songs on Irish iPods:

Damien Duff/Robbie Keane

Those Were The Days – Mary Hopkin

Shay Given

The Closest Thing To Crazy – Katie Melua

Stephen Carr

Here, there and everywhere – The Beatles

If I Can’t Have You (I dont want nobody baby) – The Bee Gees

Darron Gibson

(Do) Stop Believing – Journey

Kevin Doyle

We’ll Be Dancing at the Crossroads – Wild Swans

Don Givens

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane – John Denver

Other iPods….

Brian Cowen

Rape Me – Nirvana

Atrocity Exhibition – Joy Division

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue – Bob Dylan

Ian Dowie

What’s that Coming Over the Hill is it a Monster – The Automatic