Lucky me, I was invited to the Ireland vs. France match, a game that on paper looked to be in France’s favour. This was not just any game. It was a VERY important qualifying game for both Ireland and France. Either country had to win in order to secure their tickets to the WC 2010. The best team over two games will head to South Africa.
The game was taking place in Croke Park, Dublin’s main stadium that has hosted many great events such as U2 360. It is the venue for multiple GAA games (hurling and gaelic football) throughout the year. Hill 16 was built from the rubble left on O’Connell Street (Sackville Street) after the 1916 rising. So, there’s a lot of history and nationalism breathing within the giant Croke Park. I’ve watched a couple of Hurling games from Hill 16 and the atmosphere is fantastic.
This time I was going to see The Green Army play Les Bleus, not from the stands but from premier level (also known as premier boxes). So that also meant free food and drinks. As I’ve said in previous blogs (Chelsea CL game and FA Cup 2009), the only way to watch football is VIP style. That said, I would love to see a game any time.
My friend and I arrived at the Croker around 18.00 to participate in the pre-match drinking games and view a few celebrities, mainly ex-Irish football players. It was bound to be a great evening. I was certain Ireland would come out all guns blazing and running over the French frogs.
Even the Pope and Cardinal Desmond Tutu gave their support and blessings, hoping that the Irish would qualify for the World Cup in South Africa 2010. Ireland was bound to win, considering that there are millions of Irish people outside of Ireland, in every country and any remote corner of the World, ready to support their relatives. These numbers include, of course, all Americans that have 1/8 of Irish blood in them, who visit their relatives in Mayo every 10 years.
The game was OK. Ireland unfortunately lost 1-0 to France. For 90+2 minutes the boys in green fought the battle, but not bravely enough. On paper, France should have beaten Ireland 10-0. However the French didn’t play with any passion or desire to win. They were even arguing with their coach. The Irish focused mainly on defence, only bringing 2-3 forward. So, no wonder they didn’t score. Technically, the Irish simply weren’t good enough.
In spite of this, the atmosphere in Croke Park was fantastic. 72000 Irish and 2500 French spectators must have been overwhelming for both teams. Even if I’m not Irish, I felt proud being there and participated in singing the national anthem. Did I cry? No, but I probably farted quietly.
The Irish team received strong support even after being 1-0 down. There’s still a chance of Ireland qualifying for South Africa, but they have to win in France! It’s unlikely they will, but there’s still hope for the green army.
I woke up the following morning, wondering if the taste in my mouth was that of defeat, but I soon realised that it was simply a combination of shitty burgers and too many pints of Guinness. My kids were so happy to see me that they jumped into our bed, hugging me, not caring that my head was bursting. They just didn’t care that I had a minor hangover and why should they? I just knew that I was getting too old for this shit. My body and head just can’t handle 7-8 pints of Guinness. As Dubliners would say “I’ve got an arse on me like the back of Batman’s car after all that Guinness last night”.
I wasn’t too sure that Ireland was the strongest team, so I had to compare a few key points, which should determine the true winner – France blue and Ireland green.
65,000,000 vs 4,500,000 people – history shows that the Irish are stubborn people and they DO NOT want to be ruled by anyone (although they pretend to be British sometimes). They will never follow bigger countries blindly (just the US and Britain). The Irish are always up for a good fight, so just because they are out-numbered 14:1 doesn’t mean they will lay down their defences. Thierry Henry might be the best striker in the World (5 years ago), but the Irish have Dunne in defence, all pumped up on Guinness foam.
GDP €2.6 trillion vs. GDP €282 billion – it is not all about money, but it would certainly help Ireland a lot, and make sure it is not stuck in the arsehole of the World’s economy. I’m “delighted” that we let banks and property developers ruin the Irish economy!!
Thierry Henry vs. Robbie Keane – Henry has scored tons of goals for France, England and Spain. He must be considered as a top striker in the history of football. However, Keane score many goals for Ireland, but scores many goals for Tottenham Hotspurs (England). But, he’s lethal. He runs around on the pitch like a little Tasmanian Devil. He’s everywhere on the pitch; assists, free kicks, defending, getting water bottles, arguing with the ref and brings the crowd along.
Kronenbourg 1664 vs. Guinness – doesn’t take much consideration or debate. Guinness has it all; flavour, alcohol and it is filling as a meal too. 1664 is like drinking Mountain Dew. It’s also bright yellow like pee.
Pixies vs. Le Petit Prince – another easy win for Ireland. Pixies are cute little fairytale creatures, whereas the Prince is an annoying little boy who has a problem with Baobab trees. He dies too.
Sarkozy vs. Brian Cowen – OK, France wins this one. Sarkozy is short, elegant, well spoken and has his country under control (including economy). Cowen is the direct opposite; butt ugly, chubby, poorly dressed, speaks funny and he has no control of his country and its economy. You could say they are the Beauty and the Beast.
Leon vs. Ray (in Bruges) – Yes, Leon is one of the coolest assassins in the movie industry, but Ray must be the funniest. So, the winner is Ray. Why? Well, Leon is a loner and weirdo who dies in the end to save an obnoxious teenage girl. Ray wins the girl and he doesn’t die…and he karate chopped a midget.
Brie vs. Cheddar – right, this is personal. I hate cheddar with a vengeance. It is hard and it has no taste. Brie on the other hand is smooth, soft and delicious. Also, France produces an abundance of different cheeses, whereas Ireland primarily produces Cheddar. The only thing cheddar is good for is Macaroni and cheese.
4 seasons vs. 2 seasons – they call Ireland the Emerald (green) Island for a reason. It rains every 2nd day here, so everything is therefore moist and green. Ireland has two seasons; rainy and more rainy season. Ideally, it would be great with a nice warm summer once in a while.
Overall, France unfortunately lost the competition here, but Ireland lost the first leg of an important football game. So, who is one step closer to South Africa?
The Irish supporters are absolutely fantastic. But, Ireland will have one big problem if they qualify because they don’t have the dough to travel to South Africa. On the other hand, nothing has been better for the economy than increased loans and credit card debt, so it might just be dragging Ireland out of the void.
Personally, I didn’t care who won or qualified – no disrespect to any of the two countries. My country, Denmark, already qualified by winning their games. They have also started to compose the Danish World Cup football anthem.
I wonder if the horrid twins Jedward will be singing for Ireland next year, if Ireland qualifies?
I hope Ireland qualifies so they can spice up the World Cup. Let’s wish them best of luck for their next game in Paris. Go buy shamrocks and pray to St. Patrick that they’ll make it.