SHORT of some fiendish combination of brainwashing, kidnapping, bribery, rule-bending, and sending time’s arrow into reverse, Ireland’s only hope of seeing Jack Grealish grace the Aviva Stadium in the summer is if England top their Euro 2020 group and so contest a round-of-16 game in Dublin, potentially against Germany.
Though a player of his quality will inevitably find himself repeatedly linked with a move back to England, Shamrock Rovers playmaker and Irish international Jack Byrne appears happy to be settling in for the long haul with the Hoops this season.
It became a recurrent theme, on John Delaney visits to 2,000 clubs during his 14 years as FAI chief executive, to conclude by reciting the salutary advice of his mother Joan about always bringing something for his hosts.
Garry Doyle halflength cut Saipan: The year was dominated by that single word. Chances are no-one in Irish football had ever heard of the place before but by the time 2002 was out, it was as infamous as the other distant battlefields young Irishmen had fought in — Ypres, Gallipoli, and the Somme.
Richard Dunne believes Mick McCarthy’s demand for his players to put the emphasis on applying rather than absorbing pressure — in contrast to what he saw as a fear of failure beginning to inhibit the team under the previous management regime — means Ireland are now in a better position to make home advantage tell against Switzerland tonight.
Mick and Seamus had done their bit to temper the giddiness. Coach and captain had held up Ireland’s struggles against Gibraltar two months ago as reason for caution ahead of this latest European qualifier, but there was always the sense that the audience were nodding heads out of respect rather than agreement.
Ireland being paired once again with Denmark and Georgia in the Euro 2020 draw in Dublin in December might have induced an unwelcome sense of déjà vu but it also made Group D into something akin to a useful laboratory experiment, offering a convenient then-and-now contrast to help us better determine the state of the Irish game in 2019.