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On The Road To Nowhere?
With baffling selections and bizarre tactics, fears that Trap may be leading Ireland to a dark, dark, dark place seemed to be confirmed by our last-gasp win against mighty Kazakhstan. The question (rhetorical you suspect) is: can things possibly get any worse?
Craig Fitzsimons, 25 Sep 2012
It’s all my fault. For only the fourth time since 1983, I missed a competitive Ireland fixture, having spent the afternoon of the Kazakhstan affair running frantically around Warsaw trying to locate an Irish bar. It wasn’t until about nine in the evening that I found one – the imaginatively named ‘IRISH BAR’ just off Krakowskie Przedmiescie – by which time Trap’s troops had, by all accounts, put you all through gruesome emotional trauma.
I was, of course, kept up to speed with events by my comrades back home, who seemed to unanimously agree that the display represented the definitive low-point of Trap’s increasingly disastrous tenure. Nonetheless, with two goals in the last five minutes, I was happy enough to focus on the silver lining: three precious points which might, just might, transpire to be priceless this time next year.
I’d taped the match, but since my return, I haven’t yet had the stomach to sit through it. The other night, after an unspeakably grim week which involved notice of imminent eviction and the spectre of looming unemployment thanks to a ridiculous furore about a foreign aristocrat’s breasts, I thought I’d cheer myself up by watching the final five minutes of Kazakh-gate and skipping the first 85. And I’ve got to say that, based on the five minutes I saw, it was a thoroughly excellent performance.
Sure, the current regime’s fixation with lobotomised long-ball tactics is indeed terrifying, as is Trapattoni’s complete inability (or unwillingness) to recognise the gravity of the plight into which it has plunged us. But good god, Kevin Doyle’s winner was as sweet as they come, a truly magnificent strike in a vastly pressurised situation in the 90th minute of a must-win qualifier away from home. In the circumstances, and in view of the horrors we endured this summer, any sort of win (however pig-ugly) is surely to be greatly welcomed.
I am not attempting to defend the indefensible, and as pointed out, I’ve yet to see the 85 minutes which preceded the heroic final flourish. All the recent evidence suggests that an improvement of approximately 10,000% will be required in order to live with the Germans next month; but the players might, just might, get us out of this one yet. Time and time again in the last four years, Ireland have turned in aesthetically hideous performances away from home against clearly inferior teams, but an often-overlooked point is that we’ve almost always won, which is surely preferable to weaving pretty passing patterns for 90 minutes and not winning.