A sign just outside the Aviva last night read ‘CAUTION – BUILDING IN PROGRESS’. As the evening wore on I began to think this may have been planted by the FAI. A warning that inside their awkward dome vital maintenance was about to take place. What we were witnessing wasn’t pretty but it was certainly necessary.
365 days on from the victory procession against the footballing superpower of Estonia we were all acclimatizing to the harsh reality that a year really is a long time in football.
That fateful night last November the crowds cheered at the sight of the Irish squad and management conducting a lap of honour after securing qualification to the European Championships. The loudest cheer last night was for a similar fete. Mr. Tayto trotted the circumference of the pitch at half time, dancing and waving to Irish supporters. It is a testament to the regression of Irish football over the past twelve months that this was one of the most interesting aspects of the evening.
Unlike last November, last nights sea of green was that of empty seats. The quoted attendance of 20.070 was exaggerated beyond belief. Walking to the stadium was similar to the Sunday morning stroll to mass in a rural town crippled by emigration – it was a ghost town.
Last months public outcry for the execution of Traps managerial duties was in the end unsuccessful. However it seems that it may have struck a chord with the Italian. Suddenly he realized that he is no longer untouchable. The structure he had created was rapidly collapsing around him. Instead of neglecting this collapse he began to address it. Robbie Brady, Seamus Coleman, Marc Wilson, James McCarthy, Wes Hoolahan and Ciaran Clark were all drafted in to assist with the renovations. These are natural players. Players who seem enthused by the idea of being on a football pitch. Players made of the right stuff
Often people preach about the separation between performance and result in a football match. For years I have stood bemused at hearing it. How is one possible without the other? Nearing the end of the game I began to comprehend what this means. Unlike many times over the last twelve months, Ireland performed last night. They dominated possession stats, corners, shots on goal. They won the game in every single aspect bar the one that counts.
But when you are building sometimes progression must come in phases. If this new possession game is going to act as the foundation for the revolution that is to follow then it is a good place to start.
Since the Germany defeat foundations have been created and construction is well under way. The old phrase says ‘Build it and they’ll come’ – hopefully Trap is on his way to creating a monument Ireland can be proud of again.publ
The results for the Republic of Ireland in 2012: Played 12, Won 4 Drawn 3 Lost 5. Scored 13 goals Conceded 20.
Republic of Ireland 1 – 1 Czech Republic Dublin, Republic of Ireland
26 May 2012 Republic of Ireland 1 – 0 Bosnia and Herzegovina Dublin, Republic of Ireland
4 June 2012 Hungary 0 – 0 Republic of Ireland Budapest, Hungary
15 August 2012 Serbia 0 – 0 Republic of Ireland Belgrade, Serbia
11 September 2012 Republic of Ireland 4 – 1 Oman Fulham, England
14 November 2012 Republic of Ireland 0 – 1 Greece Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Group C 10 June 2012 Republic of Ireland 1 – 3 Croatia Poznań, Poland
Group C 14 June 2012 Spain 4 – 0 Republic of Ireland Gdańsk, Poland
Group C 18 June 2012 Italy 2 – 0 Republic of Ireland Poznań, Poland
World Cup 2014 qualifiers
Group C 7 September 2012 Kazakhstan 1 – 2 Republic of Ireland Kazakhstan
Group C 12 October 2012 Republic of Ireland 1 – 6 Germany Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Group C 16 October 2012 Faroe Islands 1 – 4 Republic of Ireland Faroe Islands