Sunday 17 December 2017

Pundits are at a loss as Grey Goose cooked

How long must Ireland suffer this maledizione cattiva? (That's "harmful curse" for those of you who don't read Machiavelli.)

Hopefully not too long.

Last night our team featured nine of the players who excelled against France in Paris but since then a malaise has gripped the squad. "They owe us a performance," chipped Liam Brady, like a man who wanted his money back. And what did poor Liamo get? Something sour in his coffee by the look of things.

Or maybe it was a bad odour that had Liam squirming. Because something certainly stank about last night's debacle in Poznan. And not for the first time in this tournament.

Group C statistics tell a sorry tale for Ireland. Lost -- 3. Goals against -- 9. Points -- 0.

Even Brady was struggling to paper over the cracks as he ruefully admitted: "Giovanni's reputation has taken a ...." Insert the word of your choice -- a) beating b) hammering c) kicking.

Brady can talk about the Italian's "doctrine" of football. But the catechism of humiliation Trapattoni has presided over is likely to make football atheists of the Irish public. And that means empty seats at home matches for a cash-strapped FAI.

So perhaps Mad Mario did us all a favour last night when his right peg wrapped a ball past John O'Shea and Shay Given. Never mind that his team-mates had to gag him before his manager could hear him speaking in tongues, Balotelli's exquisite volley also hammered another nail in Trapattoni's coffin.

Over 90 minutes, which Eamon Dunphy (pictured) described as "dire" and "desperate", Trapattoni's muddled substitutions disguised another cowardly managerial performance.



WHIPPING

As the Ireland team lost its shape, Italy sealed the deal with a second goal that put them into the next round. So what was Trapattoni at? The RTE panellists couldn't explain it.

And so, yet again, Ireland are the whipping boys of Europe. It's all too familiar.

Last night the fans with the jokey flag finally got their Long-Cox out, but sadly Ireland wilted in the Poznan night air.

Things had started brightly. The Azzurri seemed nervous and Ireland were getting on the ball and creating a few half chances. Even Trapattoni, not embarrassed to show his face, came out of his dug-out.

The Irish supporters seemed determined to enjoy themselves, singing and jumping up and down. What matter if our football reputation was going to hell in a handcart, they had a repertoire of retro terrace anthems to ease the pain.

Thankfully in Ireland we have Apres Match. And last night the satirists played another blinder, singing Man of Constant Sorrow.

Tragically I was reminded of the timeless lyrics of the old Burl Ives' song The Grey Goose.

"He was six weeks a-fallin'. He was nine months a-cookin' and the fork wouldn't stick him. The last time I seen him, he was flyin' o'er the ocean."

I reckon there was a price on the head of that old grey goose.

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