Old joke. When is a door not a door? Answer: when it’s ajar.
New existential conundrum. When is a 0-0 away draw good and when is it bad? More on this as the evening – sorry, the article – goes on. But at least we’re in the right part of the world for philosophical musing. Denmark is, after all, the home of Hamlet.
There is a fireworks display prior to kick-off. It is, needless to say, the only sight of fireworks we will get all night. George Hamilton begins by enthusing about Ireland’s ability “to score on the road” and with a few minutes gone he delves into his extensive knowledge of Shakespeare to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Very good, but why ‘Julius Caesar’ rather than the Dane? That is the question.
Moments later he and Jim Beglin demonstrate their extensive knowledge of obscure – nay, prehistoric – pop culture when referring to the home team’s winger Sisto as the Sisto Kid. Huh?
A hundred thousand millennials reach for their smartphones and hit Google. So does this very much non-millennial.
Hmm, the Cisco Kid. A cowboy, apparently. Fortunately this particular cowboy has forgotten to load his six-gun, it transpires. After 31 minutes Darren Randolph saves from Christian Eriksen, only for the ball to spill loose to Sisto. He’s at an angle and there are three Irish players on the line but he’s still only ten yards out. To score or not to score? The latter. He puts the ball wide of the far post.
Frailty, thy name is the Sisto Kid.
Jim: “Ireland have really dodged a bullet.” George observes that the visitors are “playing very well without the ball”.
There’s a man back in Montrose who dearly wishes they were playing very well, or even half-decently,
the ball and at half-time, after George signs off with a cheerful “0-0 – perfectly acceptable and on course”, it’s over to Eamon Dunphy.
He is Eamon Dunphy. Of course he is.
“We’ve been terrible. We need Wes Hoolahan on the pitch.”
Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before. A million times before.
“It’s rubbish. We haven’t strung four or five passes together, even three or four passes together. And Denmark are hopeless. If they beat us to go to the World Cup we’ll cry for six months.”
Back to Copenhagen, where George has got down with his surroundings and is introspecting at a great rate. “Is 0-0 away really a good result when you get home? You have set it up for an away goal. Unless you win…”
Jim reckons Shane Duffy spends so much time in the air that he’s close to qualifying for a pilot’s licence. Please, let’s keep him up there. When the ball is on the ground he hoofs it away twice in quick succession, giving possession back to Denmark with two awful clearances. Shane Long comes on and demonstrates why Southampton have for the past season and a half boasted the scoring record of a hermit with leprosy. Nicklas Bendtner, always a man with a high opinion of himself and these days terrifying defenders in the Norwegian league, comes on and kicks Harry Arter.
And that’s all that happens in the second half, give or take a fine Randolph save a minute from the end.
ould that Hamlet had been watching. He’d surely have had recourse to revising his “there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so” line. This, objectively and empirically and according to the evidence of one’s eyes, was bad. No thinking required.
So. Pint of Carlsberg half-full or half-empty? The sages in Montrose address the question.
Liam Brady: “It wasn’t pretty, I didn’t think it would be pretty.”
Damien Duff: “It was so-so. I’m with [Danish manager Age] Hareide. They’ve 120 minutes on Tuesday to get an away goal. There’s no reason to think we’re going to go through or take the game to them.”
Eamon: Dangerous situation. Failure of nerve. Wes. Blah blah.
(For readers unfamiliar with the saviour of Irish soccer, Wes Hoolahan is 35 years old and has played for Shelbourne, Manchester United and Real Madrid. Oh sorry, that should read Shelbourne, Livingston, Blackpool and Norwich City. Just sayin’.)
There you have it. Tomorrow night they’ll go at it all over again. To watch or not to watch?
Me: to watch, but I’ll be making sure to stock up on tonic to go with that hipster Brooklyn Gin from last month. It’s the only thing that will get me through the bloody match.
The door is ajar alright. Ajar for Denmark to score that away goal.