Passion went missing Republic’s ‘pointless’ show at #Euro2012…

Managerialism. That’s what they call it. Shuffling the deck chairs with little or no point or sense of long term value other than to perform a job.

Call me, generally, neutral on the FAI/IFA thing, but last night missed the passion for the green shirt shown in former days by Gerry Armstrong, Sammy Mc, Niall Quinn and even that old fake Irishman Tony Cascarino.

There wasn’t even trace of Jack’s much derided route one to goal. Trap’s game plan was simple and Italian, pull back to the penalty box and defend from deep deep, and kill them, erm, on the break.

At least Charlton understood the vulnerabilities of the limited skill Irish base and had them defend from the half way line and forward. The cunning Irish Italian Cascarino was well practiced at running on to a high ball on the break.

Fintan O’Toole is quick to the lash:

A paradox: impractical pragmatism. What has been so ruthlessly exposed in the fantasy world of football is, as it happens, precisely the thinking by which we live in the real world. It is a way of behaving that looks exactly like hard-nosed, calculating pragmatism. Except for one little twist – it doesn’t work.

In the football universe this is farcical. When applied to real people’s lives, as the governing principle of Irish politics, economics and society, it is a tragedy.

Ah, if only we were Sweden Fintan? Or Denmark, which is a much better bench mark for Ireland in so many ways. But more of that in a later post…

Perhaps the most embarrassing thing about these matches has been the sense that the green shirt seemed to count for nothing in the equation. In the early 1980s it was passion and belief of Billy Bingham’s boys which created a shared sense of pride (felt right across these islands) in that green shirt. Not the singing from the terrace.

In 1988, Jack Charlton harnessed that passion again to take the Republic into a major international championship for the first time. I knew English people who cried when the Republic was beaten in Rome in the Quarter finals by just one goal.

This year, no one seems to have even noticed they were even there. Trap’s boys showed up to offer themselves as a willing human sacrifice.

England on the other hand show some signs of getting right what has been wrong with them for many many years.

The elevation of Alf Ramsey to sainthood after 1966 has been a burden heaped on every manager/coach who has taken on the job ever since. Hodgeson’s critical advantage is that having been shoved in the gap left by England’s previous (Italian) manager, no one expects him to succeed.

And for once, he is been left to manage the team he has, not the team the sports journalists and every other fan thinks he ought to have. He is being allowed to manage. As Chris Dillow noted long ago

…too many people fail to see that management is – when done properly – a humble, narrow, technical activity; it’s about finding, creating and building synergies. Instead, they think it’s some mystical thing called leadership.

In the Republic’s case shortage of resource will always put practical limits on the player’s ambition. Yesterday, another top flight club, Monaghan United, slipped out of the Airtricity League of Ireland (and into community development)… Another reminder of how frail soccer has become beyond the big lights of the EPL.

After the Spanish drubbing, one Co Clare born Welsh friend on Twitter wondered if Wales were better off not qualifying for any such big set piece final competitions if it were to mean the kind of humiliation the Republic’s team endured at the hands of such teams.

Northern Ireland may be struggling in doldrums of world soccer, but they are still, if only too occasionally, capable of giving us a reason to take pride in the green shirt. And passion for the shirt and ‘soul’ seems to have the one thing that’s been misplaced in the Republic’s lost decade.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • iluvni

    Must say, I’ve enjoyed their games immensely.

  • Mick Fealty

    YOU bloody would!! 😉

  • Dec

    I’m sure fans of Azerbaijan (FIFA world ranking 112) enjoyed Russia’s early exit also.
    Hopefully, come September’s WC qualifiers, NI will soon overtake the likes of Togo, Burkina Faso and Oman on that FIFA world rankings list.

  • keano10

    Firstly Mick you may have been watching a different game last night (Spain V Croatia for instance!) but the Irish performance last night was miles better than the first two games. They attacked from the offset and while the defensive defincies were still overtly there, most sports journalists this morning have conceded that they did at least show some passion and pride against the Italians. Indeed, The Italians were hanging on a bit in the last 15 minutes up until Balotelli scored.

    Duff has already said that it is likely that he, Keane, Dunne and Given will hand over the reigns to a new generation now. There is plenty of Premier League talent to choose from with the likes of James McClean, James McCarthy etc…

    Unfortunately it remains to be seen if Trappatoni is the right man to integrate this youth into the International set up but we all live in hope.

    As for Northern Ireland Fans getting in digs, they should perhaps reflect that they are now ranked below Vietnam in FIFA’s World Rankings and that the Republic have now qualified for 5 major tournaments since Northern ireland last managed it.

    Apocalpyse Now or what…?

  • quality

    Hopefully Whelan and Green after given pretty short shrift. Embarrassing seeing them in the squad lift. Andrews as well, but at least I have a few memories of him attempting to shoot.

  • Mick has a conveniently short memory about the ‘passion for the green shirt of the NI squad whose senior players give up the game as not worth the candle in September after a silly mistake against Serbia, while still having games in hand over one of the contenders btw. Then they collapsed completely against Estonia [who were then soundly thrashed by Trap’s men in playoffs. The trouble with Trap is he failed to alter his tactics to account for the steep climb from qualifiers to finals and when the two games were lost, took no responibility for his selections. His reputation has, according to Liam Brady, a close friend, taken a severe hit after his failure to adapt Age has told with him as well as the senior players.

  • lamhdearg2

    To be honest, I though the “passion” was there, in the first and third games the Republic could have got a bit more luck and came home with a point or two, v spain, when spain click they will beat anyone.

    “This year, no one seems to have even noticed they were even there.”
    maybe just maybe the world love affair with everything irish (or claimed as irish) is on the wane.

    ps, I also enjoyed their games immensely.
    (insert smarmy smiley)

  • Mike the First


    Sorry to break it to you, but NI’s relative position in the world rankings compared to Togo, Vietnam, etc, matters not a jot.

  • Mark

    A little over the top or past the post with the lack of passion and the lost decade comment there Mick ….but that’s what listening to Roy Keane for a forthnight will do to you . It was the passion that got the Republic to the finals in the first place and it was evident in the matches I saw .

    We just weren’t good enough full stop . The fact that our qualifying group was weak meant we never really got tested in the run up to the Euros bar playing Russia and they were much better than us . Shay Given isn’t match fit and was at fault for a couple of the goals . Our worst players occupy the most important positions on the pitch IMO ( Whelan and Andrews ) and our talisman Rob Keane ( Rob sounds more hollywood or so his wife’s PR people think ) is past it but it seems that everyone bar him knows that . He plays in America ffs . We have no world class players at present and the ones with flair are on the sidelines . The FAI is praying we qualify for Brazil ( junket of the century ) and with the group we’ve got , Trappatoni could get us there again .

    I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not …..

  • keano10


    Actually it does matter when it’s a direct response to Northern Ireland fans sounding off about the Republic. I could also throw in The Republic’s 5-0 thrashing of The North at The Aviva last year bit i will try to be merciful…

    By the way in addition to Vietnam, Togo and Burkina Faso, you cam also add Benin, Sudan and the Congo to that list. Footballing Mecca’s everyone of them…!

  • stewart1

    Mick not sure where you get the impression that ni players show passion for the shirt. Half of their senior players cried off from the recent Dutch friendly just as the did with the Carling Cup games last year.

    Evans, Lafferty, Davis etc.. are not stupid, they’ve obviously better things to do during the break than waisting a week playing for a 5th rate side, whose tumble into footballing oblivion seems to be gathering pace, if the shockingly poor squad selection for the recent Holland game is anything to go by.

  • Mick Fealty


    That tactical problem is very relevant.

    Talk to some of Jack’s team and they will tell that that was what the press least understood about him: his capacity to both read the opposition and set a game plan for the next one.

    Yes, there was a rise in passion yesterday. It might have been better if they had drawn Italy rather than Croatia. But who would have guessed that beforehand?

  • Mick Fealty


    That is clearly one of the problems that Michael O’Neill has to tackle: one, the over weaning influence the club has on the commitment of players to the international team; and two, the effect of medium term lack of success has on morale.

    For reference, I did say “if only too occasionally”… If you look at the FIFA rankings and compare the RoI and NI rankings you’ll find they were pretty neck and neck for a long four or five year period until early last year in fact.

    He has his hands full. And has even less resources to draw on than Trap. Let’s hope the recovery is as rapid as the fall was…

  • Alan N/Ards

    It looks like slugger has become a site for school boys. The my team is better than yours and our stadium is bigger comments take me back to the1960’s during break time in the play ground. Really guys you need to wise up and grow up. I would just like to add that as a NI fan I am jealous that your team is there and ours isn’t. I also like to add that I applaud the way the vast majority of the ROI supporters have got behind their team despite the poor performance of their team. Hopefuly the bigots, who were on youtube making fools of themselves, will realise that they need to wise up and stop trying to tarnish the good name of the decent supporters of their team.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Good post Alan. I was behind ROI too until I say the bigots in Poland. That put me off so much that I had to joint ILuVNI and take pleasure in the 3 thumpings.

    A very tough group but to come away with the worst record of any euro team ever is a bit of a shambles – particuarly with all the hype and build-up pre-tournament.

  • I’m taking it you meant ‘drawn Italy first rather than croatia. ‘ mick. Well. the rumours about Given’s fitness were borne out anyway. I suggest for those gloating over the three defeats, it’s not entirely Trap’s fault but refusing to play the younger ones. If the veteran’s all go, I’d say it’s their snub to Trap for ruining the chances of getting anywhere. It’s surely deliberate his leaving mcClean out yesterday given his claimed reasons for not picking him during the pressure matches. Trap was totally dishonest taking this job as he knew the pool of talent but took the money anyway, and FAI were in on it as they would get million s for qualigfying themselves.

  • gary oh

    in fairness that was 15 idiots out of 20,000. i maybe naive here but i was surprised by the smugness of some NI fans. alas this is football and we can look forward to some long nights at windsor park. but the futures bright is correct. it was a shambles. and please stop singing you never beat the irish. its embarassing.

  • gary oh. Henry McDonald in the BT today points the finger directly at the twits on twitter who were positively high on schadenfreude and HMD called their glee what it was, simply sectarian while they complained that this was what was behind FAI accepting northern players. In fact FAI could only accept the offers they got whichever religious affiliation. Their own team packed it in [as I mentioned earlier], while they still had a chance back in September.

  • Dec

    ‘A very tough group but to come away with the worst record of any euro team ever is a bit of a shambles – particuarly with all the hype and build-up pre-tournament.’

    Holland’s record wasn’t that much better. They’re probably questioning the value of playing a micro-minnow in their last warm up game before a tournament full of real teams.

    ‘Sorry to break it to you, but NI’s relative position in the world rankings compared to Togo, Vietnam, etc, matters not a jot.’

    On reflection you’re correct Mike. Northern Ireland are great at football and there’s no cause for concern whatsoever.

  • between the bridges

    can’t quite get my head round all the grief the ROI are getting, they did extremely well to qualify, played 3 better teams and lost…as for the fans they got drunk and had a good time…and keane had a rant…none of these events needed a crystal ball…

  • “In fact FAI could only accept the offers they got whichever religious affiliation”


    If there were evidence that it was the FAI approaching the players and that approach was directed solely at players from one background… would that qualify as sectarian in your book? Would it disturb you?

  • fordprefect

    Look, there’s no getting away from it, the 26 county team were Crap! Doesn’t matter if they went on the attack or not, they were useless! (And I’m one of their supporters!)

  • gary oh

    Northern irelands ranking does matter. It determines what seeding they will b for future campaigns? As for the whole player thing NI r on shaky ground here. Half there squad v holland contained players from england, scotland and even one from canada. Sort of undermines there position. Every country does it. Croatia hav a brazilian playing for them. We jus have a lad from Derry!!! England have had jamicans,canadians and austrailians, not a word about it. But for me the croatia game hurt the most, shay given obviously wasn’t right and shud of jus said som

  • Oneill. Yes that would be a sinister aspect but we’ve no evidence that they are tartting one side from here, and I suppose if the FAI wanted to take players they would surely see it as positive that a player from unionist side was willing to go. But my case is it’s the players going to the FAI for their own reasons[and not because I rate the FAI with scuples, but just that they are accepting players and only catholic ones are approaching Merrion Sq. So far..

  • Daniel,

    This is what one of our ex-21 players, Eunan O’Kane said to BBC Radio Devon:

    “I just felt my opportunity wasn’t going to come playing for Northern Ireland and the Republic have come and asked me to come and join them, so it’s kind of a no-brainer to take the decision to the country that want you.”

    That seems pretty clear to me- that it was the ROI approached him, not the other way round.

    Also is from McClean, when he was called up from NI is interesting:

    Seemed more than happy enough to get the call…what happened over the weekend to change his mind?

    It reminds me of the Rangers policy pre Sounness: “Course, we wouldn’t mind the ‘other sort’ playing for us but we don’t ask them because we know what already what the answer would be”.

  • gary oh

    Daniel. U are correct there. The FAI only care if the player is gud enuf to play for ROI. Everything else is irrelevant. And the players will go where there best oppurtunity lies. And as bad as they were in the euros that will b ROI for the forseeable future.

  • Oneill. You’re implying that Rangers never had a policy of not playing catholics, just that they made a ‘convenient’ judgement al those years/decades that even if they had wanted one, they wouldn’t have got them? Eunan O’Kane is from my neck of woods in north Derry. I can’t account for the judgement of individual players and their motives. They’ll have to choose for themselves. The track record of hostility to catholc players in the IFA set up continues to be a deterrent. Parcel bombs, death threats, [including to Lennon who was willing to play for NI to that point.yet you expect them to do what you wouldn’t expect protestant players to put up with? It’s called a double standard.

  • gary oh I’ve no illusions about the FAI. They agreed to Trap’s exorbitant fees even though they knew his career reputation was in clubs. He had no record in international management but they went along with his unreasonable demands because getting to finals raked in the profits for them. His attitude is clear from interviews. He believes he can get them to finals but anything after that can’t harm his reputation and as at the euros, the players can be blamed. But he’s miscalculated this time. Trap is now unemployable antywhere else and Irish fans no longer trust him.And with good reason.

  • neutralist

    Can you provide a link to the HMcD article?

  • You’re implying that Rangers never had a policy of not playing catholics, just that they made a ‘convenient’ judgement al those years/decades that even if they had wanted one, they wouldn’t have got them?

    No, I am saying that was the public justification of a sectarian selection policy.

    The point I was making about Eunan O’Kane was that the player himself admitted that it was the FAI who approached him about his availability not the other way round.

    Parcel bombs….

    Parcel bombs? Where did you get that from?

    Finally, the news about the sad death of James Nolan kind of puts all other petty rivalries and bickering into perspective.

  • gary oh

    Daniels, well at leat dennis o brien kicked in wit half salary. And I agree with u on d FAI. They r crooks they wudn let limerick play barca in a friendly a couple a years bk cos ther was no cut in it for them and the aviva is 4times more expensive as wembley to rent out! I would second oneills point there. RIP James Nolan

  • ayeYerMa

    Had there not been the blanket media coverage over the Republic’s team by the so-called Northern Ireland media such as so-called BBC Northern Ireland and the so-called Belfast Telegraph I might have been rather indifferent to them, and even perhaps shown a mild interest in their favour (as I feel about the England team – largely indifferent). However, given such nauseating and excessive coverage of every little detail of this foreign team by such media outlets, including the constant headlines and implications that the Republic are “our” team and that we must be supporting them, then I took interest in their games and was delighted and overjoyed to see them take three wonderful and thorough good thrashings in three excellent games, as well as satisfied to see the grin wiped off the faces of the presenters of BBC Newsline.

  • Oneill. I suppose that should have been ‘letter bombs’
    I’m taking you’re word about O’Kane case. It’s not that I would put it past FAI to set out to sabotage their rivals IFA, just that I’ve not aware till now of cases re players going south because of FAI putting pressure on them as opposed to the player initiating the move. Soory, nuetralist Can’t provide the link as not PC savvy enough. Editions of BT are kept in local librariesso you should be able to track it down on the facing page after letters page.

  • gary oh

    AyeYerMa, I hear what you are sayin. We r all delighted to see england getting beat. Cos they feel it is there god given right to win these things even tho there record is awful. I suppose people in NI feel like the republic is there team is because there own team could only dream of qualifying for a tournament to get hammered in. I 4 one hav duly noted the attitude of NI fans an cnt wait to see how they get on in their world cup qualifying campaign.

  • Daniel,

    The only letter bomb received by a NI past or present star was this one sent to Neil Lennon by two Scottish Rangers fans.
    Nothing to do with NI fans at all:

    And with regards McDonald’s article, here is the link:

    And he also said this, which kind of throws another shade on the selective piece you quoted earlier:

    For the record, I prefer if young northern Catholics and nationalists opted to play for the Northern Ireland side, maintaining a tradition on the field of one team kicking with both feet.
    That tradition of a religiously mixed Northern Ireland squad stretches back to the days of Pat Rice, Pat Jennings, Gerry Armstrong and Martin O’Neill.
    If the leakage of young, talented Catholic players from north to south eventually turns into a flood, we could be left with the unedifying scenario of a solely Protestant team for the north, thus solidifying yet another element of northern society into rival religious-ethnic blocs.

  • lamhdearg2

    “we could be left with the unedifying scenario of a solely Protestant team for the north, thus solidifying yet another element of northern society into rival religious-ethnic blocs.”
    And wont the haters love that, Northern Ireland (country and football team) haters (see above) will be able to cry “no catholics” as proof that N.I. is a cold house for poor catholics.

  • stewart1


    Whether Eunan O’Kane was approached by the FAI or not is a bit irrelevant. The IFA approached Scotland international James McPake, Republic international Alex Bruce & England international Lee Camp.

    No rules are being broken by an association approaching an eligible player.

    To be honest I don’t think O’Kane is ever going to compete at a higher level at club or internationally, i think he’s a lower division player and that’s his limit.

  • gary oh

    Lost decade? Surely its been a lost 26 yrs for NI? I see the default setting on here is to accuse people who don’t agree with u as being haters. Its natural to want to see ur rivals struggle. I jus don’t see how NI hav shown more passion in the last decade when ROI were in the WC in 02 and recently the euros? Great point bt mcpake, I notice a lot of NI fans r silent on that issue. Double standards

  • DT123


    Could you provide a link or some information on where the IFA approached Alex Bruce?

    McPake and Camp would ,as you well know ,never feature for their countries of birth.

  • Gary oh. Lost 26 years? The NI effort in Mexico in ’86 amounted to one point gained in the 3 group matches. The group system in euros and world cups is a bit like US presidents legacy. They have to be re elected to be able to claim they merited their time as presidents. 1958 and 1982 is all NI can claim to have achieved, while 1988 1990 1994 and 2002 is the legacy, so far for the RoI.

  • neutralist

    I note with interest the epiricacy of some of the NI fans here — best typified by Iluvni and ayeYerMa. Personally, the net result of this is:
    1. The phenomenon of NI playings throwing their lot in with the ROI — about which I used to have mixed feelings — is now something I view positively.
    2. NI’s next World Cup qualifying campaign — about which I would otherwise have been totally indifferent — is now something I will ‘enjoy immensely’; in fact I expect to be ‘delighted and overjoyed’.

  • neutralist

    Sorry that should have been: ‘epicaricacy’.

  • lamhdearg. For the player eligibility issue which has holed the NI side below the waterline, it’s a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ you have blame trimble and his UUP deputy Taylor for, in the talks prior to the GFA in ’98 they insisted that the territorial claim by Dublin must be excised, [a claim Dublin never showed any inclination to enforce so it was a paper tiger], The end of this claim meant nationalist negotiators then needed a replacement, so the formula was the bullet of the Irish passporteligibility, which led to FIFA recognising the change in status of the statelet from one which was ‘by right’ to one of ‘until further notice.
    This has ingrained the undermining of the IFA case. The removal of the terrritorial claim looks like a pyrrhic victory now, wouldn’t you say?

  • stewart1

    ‘McPake and Camp would ,as you well know ,never feature for their countries of birth’


    Why would McPake never have featured for Scotland?

    He said the following a week before he was named by Michael O’Neill for the Dutch friendly.

    “I would hope to be knocking on the international door again although the manager has got his centre-halves and a settled squad, but you never know.

    “I got close before so there’s no reason why I can’t get close again.”

  • stewart1

    ‘Could you provide a link or some information on where the IFA approached Alex Bruce?’


    See below, Alex Bruce was approached by IFA assistant manager Glynn Snodin

    Worthington’s assistant Glynn Snodin has a foot in both camps. He is also Simon Grayson’s number two at Leeds United — where Bruce has been playing for the last year — and he has already done some ground work.

    “I have spoken to both Alex and Nigel and we’d like to have him playing for Northern Ireland,” said Snodin.

    “The plan is for Nigel, Alex and his dad to talk sometime this week to see if he will come.

    “Alex want to discuss things with his dad because they are very close. I told him that we understand that. His family has to come first, but I think Alex would like to play for Northern Ireland and he’d like to win international caps.

  • JR

    With Italy’s comprahensive defeat of Germany last night the true extent of Ireland’s group of death was revealed. It is some consolation that the two teams who qualified from our group are both in the Final.