Mary Han­ni­gan TVView

Eter­nal op­ti­mist Doyle be­lieves the Repub­lic can turn a cor­ner

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Sports -

‘Hope­fully you fol­lowed all of that,” Pe­dro Pinto said to the view­ers at home and any­one who nod­ded was ly­ing.

It would have been eas­ier to com­pre­hend what Jor­dan Pick­ford was up to in the 96th minute at An­field than fig­ure out how the Euro 2020 qual­i­fy­ing draw ac­tu­ally worked.

To fur­ther com­pli­cate it all the draw had ‘ex­ces­sive travel re­stric­tions’, ‘win­ter venue re­stric­tions’ and ‘pro­hib­ited team clashes’, the lat­ter con­di­tion keep­ing apart na­tions where re­la­tions are testy, eg Gi­bral­tar and Spain, Bos­nia and Kosovo, and Kosovo and Ser­bia.

There was, though, no pro­hi­bi­tion on Eng­land play­ing any Eu­ro­pean na­tion with which it cur­rently has a prickly re­la­tion­ship be­cause that would have left them in a group on their own, tak­ing the com­pet­i­tive edge off it.

Kevin Doyle tried to get his head around it all, but he was strug­gling.

“I’ve been study­ing it for the last week and it’s still hard to fol­low,” he con­fessed to Dar­ragh Maloney, but the main thing was that we wanted to avoid a cat­a­clysmic out­come like, say, us be­ing put in the same group as the Nether­lands and Ger­many.

And then Nuno Gomes pulled a ball from his bowl in the Dublin Con­ven­tion Cen­tre and at­tempted to put us in the same group as the Dutch and the Ger­mans and Mick McCarthy wore the look of a man who was tempted to text Stephen Kenny (“Wud u like the job 2 yrs early?”), be­fore Uefa com­pe­ti­tions di­rec­tor Gior­gio Marchetti and his com­puter in­ter­vened to save the day.

We couldn’t be in with the Dutch and Ger­mans, af­ter all, be­cause like us and four fifths of Eu­rope they are host­ing some Euro 2020 games, so Gior­gio very kindly shifted us in to a pot with Switzer­land and Den­mark. And we haven’t played the Danes in at least six weeks so that’ll be a nice change for us.

And then Gior­gio an­nounced that “the other Ire­land” would go in with the Dutch and Ger­mans and Michael O’Neill looked liked he was about to pro­jec­tile vomit, be­fore com­pos­ing him­self to pro­duce his ‘we can beat any­one on the day’ face.

Our group was com­pleted by Ge­or­gia and Gi­bral­tar which made you think Uefa should in­tro­duce a re­stric­tion pre­vent­ing teams sick of the sight of each other from end­ing up in the same pool. All we needed was Oman in there and it would have been deja-vu-arama.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Richie Sadlier with the Dutch and the Ger­mans, rather than Ge­or­gia (and Co), on his mind, while Kevin pro­claimed him­self to be “de­lighted . . . I think”.

Gold medal

But then when he went through our op­po­nents team by team his con­fi­dence be­gan to soar.

“We’ll go in to it all guns blaz­ing, full of con­fi­dence hope­fully and turn it around,” he said.

When Kevin sees a glass 50 per cent filled with liq­uid he ac­tu­ally sees it as 110 per cent.

“I’m prob­a­bly be­ing a bit harsh on Switzer­land but I’m glad we got them,” he said. “And we’ve noth­ing to fear from Den­mark if we get the bounce from the new man­ager.”

We have, of course, loads to fear from Den­mark, and as their as­sis­tant man­ager Jon Dahl To­mas­son said with a grin, when Tony O’Donoghue tried to put the fear of God in to him about the Re­turn of Mick: “At the end of the day, it’s the same play­ers who will be play­ing”. Deb­bie Downer.

There was, though, only sunshine in Mon­trose on Satur­day night when Kel­lie Har­ring­ton ar­rived on the Ray Darcy Show with her world cham­pi­onship gold medal hang­ing around her neck. Had it sunk in yet? “On my way in to work this morn­ing I was just sit­ting in the car driv­ing along, I had the Christ­mas tunes on. It just started to dawn on me, I’m ac­tu­ally, like, the world cham­pion. I’m world cham­pion. Je­sus, I’M WORLD CHAM­PION.”

And Kel­lie had to beat New Zealand, In­dia, Canada, Kaza­khstan and Thai­land, there were no pro­hib­ited team clashes, nor weather or travel re­stric­tions.

If she could man­age that, surely 11 of our hardi­est lads can see off Switzer­land, Den­mark, Ge­or­gia and Gi­bral­tar? York SOC­CER FA Cup SOC­CER (8.00) GAA High­lights

Gior­gio very kindly shifted us in to a pot with Switzer­land and Den­mark. And we haven’t played the Danes in at least six weeks so that’ll be a nice change for us.

NFL (1.15) HOCKEY (11.30) (1.30) SNOOKER York SOC­CER (8.00) SNOOKER York SOC­CER (8.00) SOC­CER (7.45) NBA Toronto GOLF Ekurhu­leni

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