This week sees the kick-off of the eagerly anticipated Euro 2012 Championship in Poland and Ukraine. The excitement is palpable for what could be one of the most competitive International competitions in some time. And where else to look for such excitement than the western, evergreen tip of Europe. Of course I mean The Republic of Ireland. Who have managed to deservedly qualify for their first International tournament since World Cup 2002.
Now in Ireland much has been said of Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad and tactics. Some negative, some positive.
Tactically Ireland are set up in a very Italian style. They play the we’ll nick a goal and defend life demons ball game. In the current day and age of Tikka Takka and Samba stars this is not exactly heralded in the bosom of the nation. Trapattoni has taken much criticism in this regard with many people believing that with the squad Ireland have, Keane , Duff, McGeady, McClean maybe Ireland should be looking to play more of a get the ball down and play style. After all, this probably is the most talented footballing side Ireland have managed to put together since Liam Brady kicked a ball in green. It is difficult to argue against this criticism, but and there is a “but”, Ireland are in the European Championships. They got there playing Trapattoni Italian football. They also managed to rack up an impressive record of 17 games losing only once in friendly with Uruguay. There’s no doubt that Trap’s style is working. He’s getting the job done and who can disagree. Sure the football may not be the greatest to watch, but since when has Ireland been a nation of fantastic football. Fantastic heart and work ethic maybe, tricks and flicks maybe not.
The other issue has been with the squad selection. We all remember Stephen Irelands night of the living dead, zombie grandmother who came back more times than Terminator. Then of course there was Andy Reid who defied gravity more often than a bee’s wings. Just how could he run carrying that much weight? This time around it it’s more who’s been left out than who’s been picked. Notably Seamus Coleman. A vastly improved right back turned right winger who has been a regular in David Moyes’ very successful Everton team for the last 2 years. He has pace, can tackle, works hard, crosses well and makes good runs into the box which has seen him pick up the odd goal here and there. How could he not add to this Ireland squad? Instead the football conundrum that is Paul McShane was picked. He’s so poor I can’t even recollect who he plays for and refuse to insult Google by typing out his name. Hull maybe? Stranger still is that had McShane not been picked, it seems Kevin Foley of Wolves would have got the nod instead. Yes Kevin Foley who wasn’t Wolves first choice right back as they were relegated. Foley came out and said he felt betrayed by Trapattoni for not being selected. Betrayed for not picking him, the constantly injured, second choice right back of a relegated team, to play in one of the biggest world footballing tournaments. I wonder do the Wolves fans who pay his wages feel betrayed? I guess we’ll never know. Yet no one thought to ask Coleman how he feels.
Still outside all the selection controversy, there is one fact that will always shine through for Irish football. There will be a huge presence of Ireland fans out in Poland & Ukraine. There always is. The team will put their all into every game. Regardless one way or the other every Irish man and woman watching will the thoroughly proud of the boys in green…………………. …………providing Paul McShane doesn’t get a game of course.
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