Fearghal on Sport

 
 

Vindicated following Springboks turmoil on the pitch, our resident columnist Fearghal Kerin finally gives up the search for a decent name to his fortnightly missive

Sometimes you have to cut your losses, celebrate your successes, and also be aware of your limitations. Sometimes when you wake up beside a beautiful woman, you should be proud of your achievement, but also know that it is what it is, and not embarrass yourself by asking for her number.

main-de-dieuThe Republic of Ireland and the FAI have stark nakedly embarrassed themselves, in front of the world, trying in vain to get another date from their French temptress despite the world and his dog knowing it’s impossible.

There was plenty to build on and plenty to be proud of  – we were only a goal away from the World Cup, but it was Roy Keane who was one of the few Irishmen to be realistic in the wake of last week’s events. In criticising the Irish defence (of course) Keane was opening himself up to criticism, since it was the man Keane himself brought to the Premier League for £2.5 million – Paul McShane – that allowed Thierry Henry to ghost past him. What’s more, Keane appreciated that these things even themselves out over time. Were the Georgians looking for a replay after the ridiculous penalty decision at Croke Park that allowed Ireland to rob them with a late winner? Would Ireland have given them a replay? Not so likely.

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This column has long shown its mistrust of the Springboks, and admiration for Robbie Deans’ Wallabies. Hence, it was with some smugness that FOS saw Australia very nearly beat the champions of the Northern Hemisphere (Scotland don’t count, and that’s just that), and to see South Africa have their crown so seriously rattled against France. In avoiding defeat against Australia and gaining their facile victory over Fiji, Ireland have at least continued Declan Kidney’s extraordinary unbeaten run. Much as I don’t rate the ’Boks, however, it will take a mammoth effort for Ireland to beat them.

The timing of the Autumn Internationals doesn’t seem to suit anybody. With the southern countries dying to get their extended summer season over, and the Six Nations teams having had such a long break, particularly in Lions years, it doesn’t make for a fair gauge of any team.

Ireland did seem to be trying to play ‘sexy rugby’, as Ruud Gullit might have called it, against the Aussies, and by playing such a strong (!) team against Fiji, Ireland have had further opportunities to iron out the creases ahead of the ultimate test. Roll on this weekend: it’s time for my judgement of the ‘Boks to be put to the test once and for all.

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Back to the soccer. FOS avoided watching the second leg of the playoff in a pub, like most people, and instead booked a room in the Jackson Court Hotel to watch it there, saving myself the bother of queuing to get into Coppers in the rain later on in the night. When Keane’s goal was scored, the screaming and noise from all over the city was amazing. Horns blowing, cars beeping and sheer joy everywhere; it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed.

It only brings into clearer focus the disappointment of not actually making it to South Africa, when we could have had probably four or five of those days. Most readers of this newspaper are probably too young to have been going out to celebrate in 2002 for the last World Cup, just as I regret not being old enough to celebrate Offaly’s glory days in the 1990s. The taste of what a World Cup month would have been like, in those few seconds looking out over the city, is what leaves me most bitter of all.

I don’t mind the despair; it’s the hope I can’t stand.

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