Monday, 12 October 2009

Schoolboy errors off screen and on...

Afternoon folks,

Watching an Ireland game has often involved baring witness to schoolboy errors. Certainly the entire regime of ‘The Gaffer’ was filled with them while the early days of Brian Kerr – which coincided with John O’Shea’s patchiest period in the green jersey and the fading careers of the majority of our then-midfield – had its fair share of them as well. However, on Saturday it was me who managed to make a basic, but crucial, error during a World Cup qualifier.

Having taken a seat in my local, all of maybe seven yards from a large plasma screen TV, myself and a few mates watched the first few minutes quietly impressed with how Ireland were going about their business when, just as Liam Lawrence was about to swing in a free kick we heard a massive roar from the other side of the bar, then looking back to the plasma screen in front of us we saw Glenn Whelan latching on to Lawrence’s deft pass to put Ireland one nil up.

The dreaded analogue v satellite curse had struck. And we were in satellite land.

There was a good two seconds difference. While the commentary running through the pub was in sync with the Sky feed of RTE coverage that we were watching, on the other side of the bar, where there was a grainy projector-style screen and no bloody room to sit down, there was RTE’s analogue coverage showing those gathered around it a window into the near future.

The executive decision was made to stay in place (we’re lazy, lazy people) and, yep you guessed it, we heard groans before the Camoranesi goal, a huge cheer when St Ledger scored that excellent header and finally we heard a sound that resembled 40 people having their souls popped simultaneously when Gilardino poked the ball past Shay Given.

Beyond this basic mistake on my part to pick a pub that, with the bar in the middle, has to have two separate screens, therefore opening myself and my mates to the possibility of such an event, I thought Ireland ticked a lot of the right boxes on Saturday. You’d have to hope that the experience of letting in that late goal will keep concentration levels up when we face one of Europe’s other top sides in the play offs.

There is of course, that argument that we should have learned that lesson already though. Against Bulgaria, twice, we lost leads only to draw. In Cyprus we were heading for campaign meltdown after losing a lead again only for Robbie Keane to pop up with a lovely finish. Both Bulgaria goals came from individual errors, while the Cyprus goal was just a decent finish so there’s no point picking over that too much.

The play offs too will be very different games to Saturday’s, as Italy happily sat back once the game went to one each. Indeed, predicting anything for a two-leg tie where our opponents haven’t even been drawn yet is fairly fruitless. For now, we should remember that this is definite progress, and while it’s progress that I’d certainly feel could do with Andy Reid’s presence on the bench, that’s another story.

On the positive side, we have Lawrence’s promising form, Dunne’s uniformly excellent display, the front two looking like they’d be a handful for any side and a quality contribution from the bench from Stephen Hunt.

In the negative column there has to be St Ledger’s slack defending for the second Italian strike, O’Shea’s for the first (and Given didn’t cover himself in glory on either goal), while McGeady’s continued lack of a final ball may prove crucial in play off matches that will, by their very nature, be extremely tight affairs.

We are there though, in a position that many would have doubted at the start of the campaign. Hopefully, the luck of Trap will continue and we get Greece in the play offs, but for now let’s hope more fringe players get a chance on Wednesday and McGeady begins to find a final touch.

I, on the other hand, will be far more careful when picking a bar stool for the play offs.

Later, JJ


Buckley said...

Frustrating to see us shrink back into our shells yet again when we go in front. Because the way we leak them ourselves one goal is never going to be enough is it? Which, ironically enough, is exactly what we need to do after scoring so late on, yet we get done on a counter?? That just confuses the life out of me that does.

I've some sympathy for McGeay to be honest. Yes the final ball could be much better. But time and again, he gets the ball, keeps it extremely well, consistently beats a man or two, but absolutely zero support for the lad. Kilbane camped inside his own half, Robbie Keane off waving fingers and pointing, Whelan or Andrews won't come out of our half. Really, what the fuck is he meant to do?

If we get Greece we'll have a chance, any other side, and we can forget about it. You'd normally feel reasonably confident going into a game with France or Portugal given how ropey they've been. But they'll inevitably raise their game, and the way we approach these matches they'll see lots and lots of the ball, and when players like Ronaldo, Deco, Simao, Henry, Benzema, Ribery.....well, you're askig for it.

Mark said...

sigh, those games against Bulgaria could have made all the difference. Great to be in play offs though - Come On Greece!

JJ said...

In fairness I'd fancy us to get an away goal against most sides - could see us maybe getting revenge on france but portugal could steamroll us if on form.

Jamie Casey said...

I think the frogs are there for the taking. It's Russia i fear most, then Portugal. I fear Andrei would tear us a new Arshavin, and memories of that 4-2 battering under Kerr would come flooding back. As for Portugal, we have no one who could handle Ronaldo alone, even though he's a girl.

Seriously though France are dull and passionless now and I'm not sure the current squad players respect Domenech so much. We should have beat them in Paris last time, some of our current squad played in that game and even Scotland went there and won last year! Bring them on i say. Having said that, i'd take Greece any day.