Earthquakes, Landslides and Ireland vs Croatia

As we sat around in the sun yesterday, enjoying a relaxed barbecue and quietly sipping on ice-cold Mexican beer, somebody mentioned the small earthquake off Mayo.  Only 75 killed, he mused.

Yeah, said someone else, and they were all tightrope walkers.

Over a razor-blade factory.

A burning razor blade factory.

A burning, radioactive razor-blade factory.

A burning radioactive razor-blade factory that recycles hypodermic needles from junkies with AIDS.

Guarded by specially-trained, man-eating hyenas.

With poisonous fangs.

Specially-trained, genetically-modified man-eating killer hyena-snakes.

Well, as somebody mused, if you’re going to walk a tightrope over a burning radioactive razor-blade factory that recycles hypodermic needles from junkies with AIDS, guarded by specially-trained, genetically-modified man-eating hyena-snakes, I suppose you can expect to be killed even in a small earthquake.

Watching Ireland playing Croatia later in the evening, I thought of the Mayo tightrope walkers.  The first tremor, after less than three minutes, had them wobbling frantically from side to side, but to their credit, they regained their balance until first one, and then another aftershock sent them hurtling to their doom in a welter of razor blades and hyena drool.

This doesn’t look too promising, observed my companion, as Ireland struggled to close the two-goal deficit with 80 minutes on the clock.

Ah, you never know, I told him.  They might knock in three quick goals in the last ten minutes.

What do you think they are — Manchester United? he snarled.

They don’t look particularly united, I replied, except in the way they all pass the ball to the nearest Croatian striker.  That must be a training ground tactic, is it?  (As you know, I understand little or nothing about the subtleties of soccer).

We’re screwed, he muttered.

And that old guy, Tramalamadingdong, isn’t he paid two million a year?

He is.  He doesn’t give a toss.

So how come the Croatians are able to string together an intricate series of passes, find open space and run onto a beautifully-weighted cross at just the right instant, while all we can do is hoof the ball up in the air?

Simple, he said.  We’re donkeys, and they aren’t.

And so it came to pass that the Poznan earthquake ended in a landslide victory for the better side, but informed people tell me that this is only a start.  They say Spain have this extra-Torrestrial who can hammer in goals in his sleep and another guy called Flabbergast, so-called because he confuses the shit out of the opposition.  Now, I don’t claim for one second to know anything about soccer, but my more informed friends are saying this match against Spain could be a nightmare.

Think exploding razor-blade and bullet factory.






Ireland vs Estonia

That’s it, they’re telling us.  It’s all wrapped up and we have one foot on the plane to Poland, but do you know what? I might reserve judgement until the final whistle in Lansdowne Road.  It’s not that I think Estonia will beat Ireland 5-nil, but the celebration just seems a bit premature, and also perhaps a little disrespectful to the opposition.  After all, these guys went to Belgrade and beat Serbia 3-1, so they’re not exactly mugs.

Never mind.  I’m sure Ireland will qualify. Maybe it’s just an unfamiliar feeling to be in such a dominant position.

You probably know if you’re a regular visitor, that I drifted away from soccer over the years as it became increasingly boring and caught up in money, but most of us will remember the national delirium of the 1988 European Championships when Jack Charlton’s team followed his mantra and put ’em under pressure just as they did in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.  It was heavy-handed, brutal stuff and it must have been torture for anyone but the Irish to watch but at the same time, it was wonderful for the country.  It lifted the mood of the entire nation, even if it wasn’t pretty.

Anyone who’s read Nick Hornsby’s Fever Pitch will understood exactly what it means to be a supporter.  You’re not there to see a beautiful game.   You’re there to see a win, and as Hornsby honestly admits, that means you won’t be too worried if an opposing player breaks a leg.

Despite the rise of the soccer millionaire-idiots, Trapattoni seems to have built a team who play for each other, even if the game they play is not particularly attractive or entertaining, but then again, the Italian way has always been to win ugly, and it has been effective.  What exactly did Materazzi say to Zindane in the 2006 final?

They’re about to kick off, and I hope they do well.  Brady, Dunphy and Giles don’t seem to be too worried, so why should I?



At half time, with an Ireland goal from Ward, Estonia are 5-nil down.  Realistically, it’s over.  Short of a nuclear strike, Estonia have no chance at all of overturning the Ireland lead.



57 Minutes. Estonia goal.  6-1.



With five minutes to go, I can’t see Estonia scoring a goal a minute.



That’s it .  Game over.  Result.