Shane Duffy was named the FAI Senior Player of the Year for 2017 last night but the big Brighton defender was unable to collect his award in person as the weather took its toll on the annual televised ceremony in RTÉ, with the programme having to be shortened from a scheduled running time of 90 minutes to one hour.
Seamus Coleman’s face was the first indication. Skipper for the first time, the Killybegs defender exuded intensity as he stood in the tunnel before kick-off. Teeth grinding, eyes locked on the task ahead, there was a certainty in Ireland’s performance there and then.
A new era has officially begun with confirmation that Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have put pen to paper on initial two-year contracts — with an option to renew for a further two years — to become, respectively, the new manager and assistant manager of Ireland.
I suppose with all the hype in the media and the growing pressure on Giovanni Trapattoni since the European Championships last summer, it didn’t come as a huge surprise to anybody to see him relieved of his duties less than a day after the defeat to Austria in Vienna which effectively made it impossible for Ireland to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next summer.
The fact that Paddy Madden watched part of Euro 2012 in Magaluf and the rest of it back in Dublin with his Da tells you something about what a transformative year it has been for the 23-year-old who, 14 months on, now finds himself coming to grips with the novelty of working with Ireland’s senior squad.
Giovanni Trapattoni had said he was concerned about the atmosphere and Alan Kelly had expressed worries about the flight of the ball, but, seemingly resigned to the roof in the Friends Arena being closed in Stockholm tomorrow night, Marco Tardelli now says it doesn’t really matter to the visitors.
You might be tempted to call it accentuating the positive or seeing the glass half-full or even just standard managerial spin but, for a man deemed to be facing a make or break brace of games, there’s no getting away from the fact Giovanni Trapattoni is radiating confidence and good vibes in the run-up to Ireland’s World Cup qualifiers away to Sweden on Friday and at home to Austria the following Tuesday.