Euro 2016 Best 10: Rep. of Ireland 0 – 3 Belgium

Tom Simmonds gives us a run-down of his best thoughts on the Republic of Ireland’s second group stage match.

  1. First things first: they can still do it! Beating an already-qualified Italian side whose manager has said he will make changes might not seem such a lofty ambition given that Croatia or Spain await the winners of Ireland’s group in the Round of 16.
  2. Ireland’s collapse coincided with the appearance of Radja Nainggolan, a man who could earn a living as a body double for the Prodigy’s Keith Flint, off the bench in the second half. There is nobody so scary-looking in the Italian side, so Ireland will have no excuse on that score!
  3. Jeff Hendrick produced an ace bit of trolling, kicking a second ball on the pitch towards the direction of play, picking up one of the silliest bookings in European Championship history.
  4. Ireland proved quite good at one of the game’s dark arts early on, slowing the game down where possible in the first half. There isn’t a team who has done well in international football who hasn’t been good at this sort of thing, so Ireland are getting there…
  5. Bordeaux produces some of the best wine in the world. Most of the Irish fans will therefore be pretty sanguine about their 3-0 defeat right about now as a consequence!
  6. Has this Ireland team finally softened Roy Keane? Images of him laughing and joking during training sessions put a pin prick in his intense, brooding image despite Martin O’Neill calling him “the Werewolf of Manchester”.
  7. Little Wes Hoolahan received a boost to his self-esteem being stationed on the post at corners. When he cleared a Toby Alderweireld header off the line from one, he will momentarily have felt all of six feet tall.
  8. O’Neill refused to answer a question at a pre-game press conference about how many Irish players would get into the Belgium side. We can see why he ducked that one now!
  9. Ireland would not have expected anything from this game, so they will likely be taking a phlegmatic, nothing-to-lose attitude into their do-or-die showdown with Italy in Lille.
  10. According to official statistics, 130,000 Irish nationals are currently in France, as opposed to 13,000 under normal circumstances.  That’s a lot of people not actually going to the games, and a ready-made explanation as to why the Irish economy is performing sluggishly.

Next stop Lille on Wednesday against Italy.
Read more from Tom here

Follow Tom on Twitter @TallulahonEarth

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