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