Les Bleus leave pundits green around the gills

IT TOOK 20 minutes for the Tackle Heard Round The World to be resurrected on RTÉ last night.

Eamon Dunphy didn't waste time getting in amongst them early doors, bypassing co-panellists Liam Brady and John Giles to laud the "buzz around town" at the first opportunity.

However, it was Brady who invoked the Felling of Overmars at 7.23pm. We'd heard about the selection of Dunne, though worryingly Brian Kerr had said the big Manchester City stopper had been "good against most defenders in the Premiership", which suggested Brian was either a) distracted or b) thinking of someone else altogether.

Then Brady more or less incited the Irish team to sudden and extreme violence at the start of the game and we all relaxed to ponder who'd be the recipient of a Marc Overmars-type assault, or "statement of intent", to give the historic incident its technical description.

Dunphy took up the cudgels, metaphorically, asking how Zidane would react to a "couple of kicks", or as Giles said, to Ireland "making life hell" for him. The lads then wondered who would bestow the assault, er, statement of intent, and when the camera panned down the corridor under the stand there seemed general astonishment that Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira made it out onto the field without showing their studs.

Once the game started, George Hamilton welcomed us with a mixed message ("Allez les Verts!") and in between the plentiful goalmouth action seemed fixated on the "ageing" Thuram, mentioning the fact that he "wears glasses in ordinary everyday life, once upon a time he was in a seminary" all but urging us to extrapolate something from the fact that his first name is Lillian.

At half-time, the panel took up the assault on the French defenders.

Brady felt Boumsong was a weak link, while the quality of the central partnership left Giles incredulous. It was left to Dunphy to snap up the chance to say "Welcome to Lansdowne Road" of Roy Keane's early bite at Zidane, but his heart wasn't in it. When he exhorted Ireland to more aggression he might have been referring to himself.

Hamilton took up the slack after the break. Apoplectic when Boumsong felled Duff "He's knocked him but there's no free-kick!" he went on to detail the "hot breath" of Claude Makelele a little unnecessarily. Then, just as he and Jim Beglin started to speculate on possible substitutions, Thierry Henry struck. Hamilton said "you could see it coming", but he was on his own with that one.

After the game, Bill O'Herlihy acknowledged the French were entitled to celebrate, but Giles finally unsheathed his studs: "a very poor game ... we never put them under the pressure I expected." Brady thought that tactically we got it wrong, Dunphy felt we "didn't play with any conviction" but "refused to go into hyperbole", an earth-shattering disappointment for all of us.

Turned out that the Shot Heard Round The World had taken place in Ireland all right, only problem being it was an hour up the road from Dublin.

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