Soccer / international soccer
From Bono to Obafemi and not a goal in sight!
Winning is a Habit Winning may be a habit, but it seems that not scoring goals is Rep of Ireland's habit right now. Ireland are possibly closing in on some sort of record for the most 0-0 draws in close succession. This evening's tame, drab, boring affair played out at Ceres Park in Denmark was Ireland's third 0-0 draw in their last 4 competitive senior international matches. We just cannot score goals at the moment. It seems that an Irish player can't find the back of the net for love nor money. You know, people in Ireland sometimes have a habit of giving stick to Irish heroes and legends. One example is Bono, who is famous around the world as the front man of U2, one of the most successful rock bands in the world. He is also an ambassador for human rights and an all round decent human being, who tries to use his position of power and fame to do something positive and raise awareness around many subjects which need a light shone on then. Yet, you'll hear many an Irish person say something like: "Ah jaysus, Bono, the sap. Jaysus, the amount of preaching he does, would he ever shut up and sing for jaysus sake" Here jaysus = jesus, which I'm sure you gathered! A funny aside about Bono There is a story about Bono, now I'm sure if it's true, but it's kind of funny :o) During a massive gig in Glasgow, Bono asked the whole crowd to be silent and then began slowly clapping his hands. The crowd began to clap along then for a while, so that all you could hear in the stadium was rhythmic clapping… Bono looked around the crowd and then began to speak, saying that every time he clapped his hands a child died someplace in the world… That's when a big burly Scottish man shouted at Bono from near the stage in a thick Scottish accent: “Well stop ****ing clapping then!!” Like I said, I don't know for sure if it's true, but it popped into my head just now, so said I'd share as an aside. What's my point? Ok, I was getting to that, as I was saying above Irish people can sometimes give stick to Irish heroes. We have this begrudging trait where some (not all) of us don't like to see fellas do too well for themselves. One such person, particularly in the twilight of his career was our very own Robbie Keane. He was a living, breathing, Irish goal scoring machine. Robbie proved that he could play at the highest club level and scored many goals for his 13 different clubs throughout the years. He played with top clubs like Inter Milan, Spurs and Liverpool, yet it was not uncommon to hear certain sections of the Irish crowd take a swipe at Robbie. His record at International level speaks for itself. 68 goals in 146 games. To put that into context, that's more goals than Ibrahimović has managed for Sweden. It's three more goals than Messi has managed for Argentina. He has 15 more goals than England's most prolific goal scorer - Wayne Rooney. In fact there are only 14 men living or dead on this planet who have scored more international soccer goals for their country than our Robbie, yet I often heard it around the Aviva stadium, that Robbie was past it, that he had lost his touch. I think that it is only now, when we are struggling to find a single goal in 360 minutes of international football, that the penny has finally dropped for many of those bemoaning Irish fans. The simple fact is, that even now Robbie could probably offer us something up front. He just has that natural instinct of knowing where to pop up in the box to claim those poacher goals. He was a great servant to the game, and boy do we miss him now. So desperate is the need for goals, we could probably even play Bono up front, and he could try to talk the keeper into letting a goal in for us on humanitarian grounds! As another 0-0 draw would be torture on a grand scale for us Irish fans! One positive to take from this evening's match There was something to be positive for on the night though. A young starlet with great potential pulled on the green shirt for the first time. Michael Obafemi made his International debut this evening coming on as a second half substitute for Callum O'Dowda. In a week where his international future with the republic looked in doubt, it was great to see him make an appearance in a competitive fixture, and in so doing cementing his place as an Irish player for the future. The rumour mill was rife that he would follow in the footsteps of Jack Grealish and Declan Rice, two of our most impressive under age stars of recent times who have opted to not commit to the irish set up at senior level. Jack has made his mind up, and it looks likely that Declan will do the same. Michael has opted to play for the country where he was born in 2000, which is making me feel extremely old right now. I'm also extremely happy about it, and hopefully Michael is one for the future. He is well regarded at Southampton, and I think it is only a matter of time before he plays his way into the first team there. He has big shoes to fill if he is to come anywhere close to Robbie's level, and even if he could manage one third of Robbie's haul, that would make him the second highest goal scorer ever for Ireland. At the moment that is Niall Quinn on 21 goals. I brought my son to his first match, but I picked the wrong sport! So, yes, not my best move ever, but I brought my son who is five years of age to his first live match last Thursday, and yes you guessed it, it was one of the three 0-0 draws I mentioned above. The risk was that I would put him off soccer for life. Even though the match was shockingly bad, and there were few moments to get excited about, he actually had a great evening. He got to stay up past his bed time, got his first ever Ireland scarf, his first ever match programme and ate his weight in sweets to keep him appeased so that I could watch some of the game. I was expecting to have to leave at half time, as I suspected boredom would play a part for someone so young, but to be fair to him he lasted until 85 minutes, which was to be commended considering the game was a borefest and there were grown men falling asleep watching it. It was a pity that I couldn't get tickets for us for 2 days later instead, when Ireland defeated the All Blacks for only the 2nd time ever 2 days later at the same stadium. The little man is already looking forward to his next match at the Aviva and I must say it was lovely bringing my son to the match, as I have such fond memories of going to games with my own Dad when I was a kid. Thanks for taking to time to read my post. I hope you enjoyed it. Peace Out.
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