“Another victory goes up in smoke. Ireland couldn’t put them away and paid the price,” reflected George Hamilton gloomily.
“It punctures the Irish balloon. It’s back down to earth with a bang.”
Ronnie Whelan was just as deflated. “To win major games like this, you need more quality. Just so you can try to sneak the third goal. We never had the ability to do that in the second half.”
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but heaven knows Eamon Dunphy was miserable all night. Before the off, he had worried about the team selection, certain he would have widespread international backing for his preference for Wes Hoolahan.
“You’d find it hard to find a person in the world who doesn’t admire this guy.”
Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t sure the man once known as the Sammon of College was the choice to school the Austrians. “Nothing more than a journeyman. He is just there as a blunderbuss.”
Would Trap have his fingers burnt?
“There is no reason to be optimistic, believe me. There is every reason to believe it’s going to be a disappointing, stuttering, disjointed performance.”
Chippy, wary by now of accusations that he has jumped the fence, baby, over to the world of PR, was almost conciliatory. “It could be a stuttering, disjointed performance but a win.”
For a long time, it looked like, for once, both could be right.
But even at the break, Dunphy wanted changes.
“What they need to do now is get on Wes Hoolahan and keep the ball.” Giles wasn’t sure and Brady “wouldn’t touch the team”. By the end, Eamo held the hymn sheet.
“In the second 45 minutes, we never tried to play football. The substitutions were unbelievable. We made no attempt to rectify a pattern by making changes. Namely Wes Hoolahan.”
“It was torture to watch. We conceded ground, we conceded territory. Get someone on the ball and start passing. But we never do that. It’s a terrible indictment of the coach.”
Brady, like Ireland, was willing to concede possession. “It’s a sickener. But you can’t really complain. I would agree we needed someone like Hoolahan to come on and give us a breather.
Dunphy railed: “This coach’s mentality is to retreat and save what you have and not to favour someone with the skillset Wes Hoolhan has. To keep him off that pitch was philosophically against everything I believe in in the game.”
“Are you saying the Trapattoni era is over?” probed Billo.
Dunphy responded: “The players were magnificent. They really put their heads and bodies on the line. But players need leadership and the right eleven on the pitch. If we won 2-1, I’d never be converted to this coach’s philosophy.”
Brady finally marshalled the defence: “I agree with Eamon on the Hoolahan thing. But I don’t think it’s the end of the Trap era, we can still qualify from the group. Until it’s black and white, I don’t think you can sack the manager.
For Eamo, it’s always black and white. “I don’t want to see this guy around anymore and I don’t think the Irish fans do.”