herald

Monday 17 December 2018

Paul Hyland: Trap, please practice what you preach!

MAYBE James McCarthy, Marc Wilson, Darron Gibson and Anthony Stokes had the right idea. Staying away from Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland could be good for your health.

If we are to believe the allegations of curfew breaking, drinking, carousing and the odd outbreak of wrestling and punching, Ireland’s team hotel was hardly the place for impressionable young men to be hanging out.

The other view is that this was just a bunch of lads at the end of a long season cutting loose and that we should treat the incident with a pinch of salt and move on.

Accounts of the alleged punch delivered to a senior squad player in the early hours of May 31 make this different from past yarns about Irish stars on the lash.

Accounts vary and some include another player who remonstrated with the staff member and had to be restrained.

FEELING

All agree that the bad feeling caused by another incident a week earlier was never far from the surface and that this other event allegedly involved widespread curfew breaking by players young and old.

Which brings us back to Trapattoni and the very public dressing down he gave McCarthy and the ‘Unreliables’.

They were, he told us, out of order for not contacting him in advance of withdrawing from the Ireland squad and, for that, he questioned their loyalty; particularly that of McCarthy.

Yet, several of the squad who could be held up as paragons of virtue were also breaking rules.

What’s more, Trapattoni appears to have known that some of his players were drinking outside permitted hours – yet no action was taken against them.

If he didn’t know what was going on, that is even worse.

Hypocrisy is the operative word here. McCarthy and the other ‘no-shows’ were given the lash in public with a passion.

Were senior players out drinking after a curfew and, if so, what kind of example is that setting for young players making their way in international football?

More importantly, were any of the men who took McCarthy to task for not following the rules themselves guilty of contravening Trapattoni’s instructions? If so, they should look in the mirror.

It would be hypocritical in the extreme if this turns out to be the case and, if Trapattoni was aware of this, his ongoing pillorying of McCarthy as “a young player who must learn” is laughable.

The greater issue is the dreaded drink culture which infects players from these islands and continues to cause ructions sporadically, though with more frequency in a tweeting world.

Wholesale breaking of curfews in Ireland team hotels is nothing new. On this occasion, the allegations suggest that drink led to something worse and, when that happens, it’s very difficult to keep a lid on a story like this.

No doubt everyone – players, management and the FAI – has circled wagons and, unless witnesses emerge, these incidents will be tucked away under a handy carpet along with many like them.

Loyalty is rightly rewarded by Trapattoni over those with a weak commitment. But loyalty should not be a ticket to make up new rules and ignore Trapattoni’s.

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