Oh Ireland!

Photograph: Crombie/Inpho/Rex Shutterstock


Republic O’Ireland manager Martin O’Neill is never slow when it comes to blowing his own trumpet, but was left playing a sad trombone on Tuesday night. The man who famously reminded Fabio Cannavaro and Patrick Vieira he’d won two Big Cups before asking “how many have you two won?” during a stint of World Cup punditry was left harking back to former glories once again after watching his team get ripped asunder by a combination of his and their own ineptitude, plus a free-scoring Christian Eriksen at the Aviva Stadium.

Unimpressed with the shoeing he was getting when he was already down and out, O’Neill was prepared to grudgingly concede that “we were well beaten”, before reminding O’Donoghue that O’Ireland actually beat Germany not so long ago … albeit by fluke in a totally different competition. He then gave him his filthiest of stink-eyes before scampering off with the air about him of a man who’s just remembered those World Cup 2018 punditry gigs are likely to be snapped up fast and he should really get his Mr 15% on the case.

Quite what the long-term future holds for O’Neill or O’Ireland remains to be seen. Tuesday’s slaughter could spell the international end for several senior players, while many of the self-styled best fans in the world demonstrated their loyalty by rushing to the exits with more than 15 minutes to go. At a World Cup in a country where where fan violence is actively encouraged by some government officials, the heartwarming comedy relief provided by Theme Pub O’Fiver and his wacky compatriots is bound to be sorely missed. Whether it’s creepily scaring elderly nuns on trains or young women in the street, the Green Army pride themselves on the kind of joie de vivre that was in decidedly short supply when Nicklas Bendtner completed their humiliation.

But with the Irish bandwagon ground to a halt the Danish one has just got rolling. “Just to say, ‘Thank you very much for giving us space,’ because [O’Ireland] locked us down in Parken very well and Eriksen was very much out of the game and today he was fantastic,” said Danish manager Age Hareide. They were cruel parting words for poor beaten Paddy to take, but at least he’ll always have Martin O’Neill’s Big Cups as consolation.


“Who wins more?? Let’s draw our conclusions, I’m mad because they give away our prestige, but the players are not the ones to blame, I WANT TO RETURN!!!” – Diego Maradona gives Jorge Sampaoli this ringing endorsement after Argentina’s 4-2 defeat by Nigeria.

Photograph: Mike Hewitt/FIFA via Getty Images

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