Irish fans, Gdansk 2012

Five Things We Learned Tonight

It was far from pretty in Dublin tonight, but was it a case of learning anything, or have we come to expect such dross?

With not much action to talk about, finding five things to write about has proven more difficult than what you might think, but here’s a few moans to chew on:

1) FAI – when will you learn?

You’ll quickly come to realise, that not many of these are shiny, new, ground-breaking theories. But by God, the state of that stadium this evening! Embarrassing!

The cheapest ticket available to any adult looking to attend the Aviva this evening was…

Wait for it….


John Delaney – catch yourself on! That stadium should be rocking on an occasion like this. Need some inspiration, pal? Fire on Youtube, and type Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland into the search bar. That should give you an idea. Twenty is plenty!!

These overpaid millennials need motivated in some way, you brush!

2) Strikers Wanted

Men of Ireland. North and South. Get Breeding!

By f*ck, we need a goalscorer from somewhere. Take each side’s last fourteen fixtures. In 28 games, twice have we enjoyed the sweet delirium of an Irish side scoring more than two goals in a game. It won’t shock many to hear that it was The North who came up trumps on those occasions. But I’m nearly sure San Marino doesn’t count.

3) Michael 1-0 Martin in the Transitional Battle

To say it’s apparent that both sides are going through experimental eras in a bit of an understatement, at the minute. But credit, where credit’s due. Both managers have used the Nations League campaign and the residual friendlies that go with to mine some new talent.

Without doubt, Northern Ireland are winning this battle. Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jamal Lewis, and in particular Gavin Whyte have looked impressive in their outings in the green, thus far. Whyte, who only departed Irish League football in July, looks to be the real deal. Awarded a start by O’Neill in Dublin tonight, Whyte missed the best chance of the night having fashioned space for himself on right, in the first-half. He missed a gilt-edged opportunity in Sarajevo last month after bring sprung from the bench, but he certainly seems to have the knack of being in the right place at the right time, and at 22, his composure should only improve.

In the opposing camp, Callum O’Dowda is by far and away the brightest spark on offer from the Republic’s perspective. But the thought of enduring ten years of having one of Callum Robinson, Sean Maguire or Ronan Curtis leading the Republic line makes me want to hurt myself.

4) Club Football Level Playing Out on International Stage

Does anyone know the last time, a player from one of the Premier League’s ‘top six’ played in a Republic jersey? It took me most of the second half to find it to be fair, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

February 8th, 2011. It was a week that greasy monkey Silvio Belusconi branded attempts by Italian prosecutors to try him for sex with underage prostitutes as “disgusting”, the Arab Spring was in full flow and Bono seemed to be endorsing White South-Africans. It was also John O’Shea’s last appearance for the Republic as an active Manchester United player.

I’d love to know what Roy Keane thinks about that.

Jonny Evans aside, Northern Ireland are in a similar boat.

Who’s fault is it? Is it anyone’s fault?

Let’s make it relative. The Republic are officially the 33rd best team in the world at the minute, the North sniffing their holes in 34th. In 35th, we have Serbia. OK, a couple of more million people to choose from, but a state ravaged by war for most of the 90’s, and hardly awash with money. But what they do seem to produce is top talent.

Kolarov, Matic, Milinkovic-Savic.

You could roll George Saville, Steve Davis and Jeff Hendrick into one and still not come close to any of them three lads.

One can only scratch their head. Coaching, maybe. Hunger, more likely. Irish players are not making their way to the top of the game.

5) Get In The C

Relegation to League C will be sweet relief for both sides.

Northern Ireland’s fate was sealed tonight with the stalemate in Vienna, between Austria and Bosnia, and the Republic will follow suit, when Denmark make mince meat of them in Copenhagen on Monday night.

A few games away in the Balkans will teach these lads more than getting their asses handed to them in League B. Both teams could do with creating a winning habit again, the Republic certainly need to forge a goalscorer – and League C could be the place to do it.

The draw for the Euro 2020 qualifiers at the start of next month, will be crucial to each side’s development over the next two years, with the North certainly in Pot 3, and the Republic’s Pot 2 status looking shaky to say the least.

But first thing’s first. Martin O’Neill has to go. The football’s awful. The players aren’t motivated. The man is simply out of date at 66 years of age. He’ll be 67 by the time the next international break comes round in March.

So I’ll end this article the way I started it.


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