Liam chips in for mercy but Ireland on the road to nowhere

“They are enthusiasmus,” protested Giovanni Trapattoni before the start, falling back on his favourite word, one more time.

But there wasn’t much of that about.

So unenthusiasmus were the RTÉ panel in advance of last night’s match, they skipped the build-up in favour of another debate on the Trap era; perhaps the one thing more predictable than Ireland’s football.

Nothing new. On Brady’s side, player limitations; Gilesy’s, self-imposed ones.

Perhaps the only shift in position has come from Chippy; whose chief ambition now is a decent send-off for his old gaffer.

“He’s a man of dignity and integrity and he doesn’t deserve to be vilified. I do feel that probably Trap’s era has run his course, but we owe him a debt for bringing us back from the wilderness.”

But Gilesy worried it was our game being stripped of its dignity.

“I think he was disrespectful to Irish football in general. I think he had a preconceived idea that we were no good. He might well have been right, but you have to give it a go.”

Ronnie Whelan immediately deepened the gloom by writing off not just this tournament, but all eternity. “I think our chances have gone to qualify for any World Cup.”

But will any of us live long enough to prove him wrong? “A real downbeat feeling in the studio. Nobody’s too excited about this, are they?” sighed Billo, at half-time.

“I am — I backed the draw,” smirked Eamon Dunphy. And maybe he would be quids in again, since he told us before the start that Alaba “had scored the decisive goal in the 2-2 draw at the Aviva”.

Ronnie had told us early that “it’s all about Alaba; it’s whatever he can do.”

Eventually he did it. “The curtain falls as Trapattoni’s team loses competitively away from Dublin for the first time;” said George Hamilton, seemingly still under the impression that those were friendly kickabouts in Poland last summer.

“Goodnight Vienna and goodnight Trapattoni,” pronounced Billo, as the final whistle kicked off a resumption of the earlier battle.

Eamo got it going. “I think Trapattoni’s gone. His salary was among the highest in Europe. He’s been an expensive mistake. That match was crying out for Wes Hoolahan. The only difference between the teams was Alaba. If the right team was on the pitch, which it never is with this coach, we could have held our own in this group.

“The perversity continued to the very end; he brought on Conor Sammon.”

As ever Brady’s workings added up to a slightly different conclusion.

“I think that’s really nasty. If you do the accounts of what the FAI has earned because of Trapattoni. He’s actually in credit. I don’t think salary should be brought into it.”

For Dunphy, that was creative accounting. “You’re not getting away with moving the goalposts tonight. He was the one of the highest paid managers in the world. He was only one who refused to go look at his players.”

“He should be sacked because he hasn’t done his job properly. If you hire any man, regardless of what he does; a carpenter, a bricklayer, a football coach, a television presenter, the first obligation is, he’s got to give it his best shot.”

“Should the future start tomorrow?” wondered Billo, looking a little worried about his own gig.

But Chippy’s future looked a lot like Ronnie’s.

“I fear we are on the road that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are on; not qualifying for anything for a long time.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox