Life goes on as we chase eternal dream of another 1-1 draw

Life goes on as we chase eternal dream of another 1-1 draw
Shane Duffy: Ireland will hope the imposing defender can get his head on the end of a cross tonight. Picture: Inpho/Ryan Byrne

In spite of the tumultuous events of our time, be sure life will go on regardless.

I came to this conclusion as Tuesday night’s dramatic events unfolded and millions of concerned citizens watched to see how the great power struggle would play out.

Yes, it was Biscuit Week on the Great British Bake Off.

My wife sensibly commandeered the television to make sure it was Paul Hollywood rather than John Bercow conducting proceedings in our house, correctly perceiving the true order of life’s priorities.

And what could be a more reassuring symbol of keeping calm and carrying on than watching Prue Leith frown over a disappointing crumb while Westminster burned?

British viewers could hold fast to the notion they might still build, if not Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land, then at least an impressive layered Victoria sponge with buttercream icing.

This enduring lesson is not restricted to the stiff upper lipped lot next door.

When morning broke the day after the collapse of the Roman Empire, presumably people still woke, contemplated the decline of the greatest civilisation ever known, and then thought, “Right. Breakfast. Who’s for eggs?”

So too with Irish football, whose own ongoing convulsions do not change the fact games must still be played, training cones arrayed, and tickets sold.

Hearing FAI advertisements on radio for the upcoming home games was a reminder of the people in the organisation who keep the wheels turning.

Societies in states of chassis are maintained by ordinary decent folk going about their jobs, as presumably those who keep Irish football going amid the ongoing boardroom farrago are managing to do.

The latest antics of what can be termed the Continuity FAI don’t exactly suggest a change in the lions-led-by-donkeys narrative.

Brian Kerr’s recent yarn, about an offer from FAI interim general manager Noel Mooney to become a ‘media watchdog’ for the association, suggests John Delaney-era executive zaniness has survived intact.

It’s hard to figure out what Mooney was thinking here.

Asking one of Ireland’s most respected football men to become the FAI’s media watchdog — whatever that is — is like offering Michael Fassbender a minor part on Mrs Brown’s Boys.

Did Mooney read a Ladybird edition of The Art of War and think this would be a very clever spin on that old line about keeping your friends close but your enemies closer?

Did he pat himself on the back for his strategic nous in seeking to mute a longstanding FAI critic, telling himself he was playing chess when others were playing checkers, when in actual fact this move was more like Buckaroo?

Anyway, while I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Old FAI continues to deal with board restructuring and the drip-drip of Delaney revelations in the press (and oh, by the way, any chance of a set of accounts?), there’s still the football.

How comforting it is amid all the carry-on to be facing into that most familiar of scenarios with our bold Boys in Green: A gristly-looking tie against a slightly superior European nation with our chances of qualification delicately poised.

Here we are again, hope a flickering flame which we guard against the inevitable gusts of disappointment, dreams of a perfectly weighted cross onto the nut of Shane Duffy sending us skipping along to the Aviva.

Was it ever any other way?

If it is the ordinary decent people who keep things going, then thankfully we have the archetypal ordinary decent football manager on the job this week.

The build-up to this crucial qualifier is the same as the build-up to any crucial qualifier and Mick McCarthy is manfully handling the normal pressing concerns: Niggly injuries, the lack of goal-scoring strikers, the riddle of Jeff Hendrick.

Hendrick has us like poor old Fantine in Les Miserables, mooning after the handsome rake who won our hearts one sultry summer, then disappeared quick smart.

Still we dream he’ll come along, and we will live the years together, or at least he’ll get back in the Burnley team.

For McCarthy there is the job of managing that tiny hope we always have that a hard-grafting collection of honest pros will somehow turn over a clearly more talented outfit.

But let’s not set our target so high in these difficult times. We can dream of a famous victory, but that’s what not what we need right now.

What we need in these times of tumult is stability, a reminder of what we do best.

Yes, tonight, more than ever, let’s hope for a good old-fashioned Republic of Ireland 1-1 draw.

It is, after all, the bedrock of our footballing fortunes, the traditional okay-but-not-great result on which our soccer identity is built.

When all in Irish football appears to be collapsing, a 1-1 draw would send out a message of calm amid the chaos.

Some people might scoff at the 1-1 draw, using it as evidence of a long-pervasive mediocrity within our football culture, one which the rages of Roy tried but failed to shake off.

But we know better. Some of the most triumphant moments in our football history have been 1-1 draws.

We know that it is actually possible to 1-1 draw your way to winning the World Cup, and what a beautiful thing that would be were it to happen.

The 1-1 draw is rarely decisive, it usually means life trundles on for another few weeks at least and in these times of existential threat, that’s no bad thing.

So let’s get behind the lads and roar them on.

An early Irish goal (Duffy 7’), a second-half Swiss equalizer (Duffy OG 58’), then we’ll shrug and go for a pint.

It’ll do for now.

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