Home > EURO 2012, Travel > We had nightmares & songs to sing

We had nightmares & songs to sing

It was all a bit humbling really. Spain came and reigned supreme as the limitations of Giovanni Trapattoni’s system and our playing squad against Spain’s fluid flowing football was visible for all to see. Ireland were torn apart 4-0 by the World and European Champions and dumped out of the Euro 2012 tournament after just two games.

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Our only consolation was the magnificent support given to the team from the stands. This wasn’t a ‘sing when your winning’ support like Spain seemed to have but the singing of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ by the Irish fans at the games conclusion was simply incredible. Despite being 4-0 down and heading out of the tournament, it just got louder and louder. For me it will live long in the memory and it was an amazing experience to be part of.

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However, whilstwe sung about “dreams and sings to sing”, the players probably felt like it was a nightmare they were in as Spain took apart Ireland scoring three second half goals to go with their early first half strike. It was a very impressive performance by La Roja who were never really put under pressure by the boys in green. Torres (2), Silva and Fabergas did the damage for the defending champions.

The Simon Cox experiment didn’t really work and Plan B after half time involving Jonathan Walters wasn’t much better. Having said that whatever team or formation Ireland put out on a wet night on Gdansk, playing against opposition of this calibre was always going to a very difficult task.

The road down to the main square in Gdansk and around the Neptune fountain was full of Irish fans from lunchtime on match day. The trains, planes and camper vans had deposited the Green Army in the very north of Poland. Some Spanish fans wandered through the Square and supporters and locals alike were treated to a few Poznans as well as the full repertoire of Ireland songs from Trap’s Army. Whether a team of Gary Breens or one containing any of the 12 days of Christmas/Paul McGrath would have helped Ireland in the game is doubtful.

There was talk ahead of the game of whether the pitch would be watered and the weather gods conspired to make it wet. In the stands, the Green Army outnumbered the Spanish probably three to one. In excess of 25,000 were dressed in green and they were silenced once again like against Croatia by an early goal with Spain scoring in the opening four minutes.

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Spain passed and passed and passed while Ireland huffed and puffed but got nowhere near to blowing Spain’s defence down. It was a real master class in passing by Spain. They could afford to bring Cesc Fabergas off the bench where as we had Paul Green and that probably summed up the gulf in class between the teams. One of the biggest cheers of the night was for the introduction of young James McClean but even the young Derry man couldn’t influence the outcome of the game at that stage.

I’ve heard comment before about it would be better if we didn’t qualify for these things because once we are at a big tournament we would get hammered. I certainly didn’t think we would get hammered but after just two games conceeding seven goals and only scoring one, that has all the hall marks of a hammering. I’d much prefer for Ireland to be here though than being at home but these results have been hard to take after the long build up and sense of occasion about the Euros.

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It is better to be at the big boys table at these feasts of football than watching on the telly. The pity is that in Poland we were being served up as Spain’s starters to be consumed by their crisp passing football. What lessons can we learn from this I don’t know as we face into our final game of the tournament on Monday and the rocky road to Rio to come after. Ireland will be remembered by the fans off the pitch rather than the performances on it when this competition ends.

The final few minutes of the game were played out under the soundtrack, not of the celebrating Spanish fans, but to the Irish in the stands. It was a powerful rendition of “The Fields of Athenry”. The haunting mournful ballad echoed around the amber walls of the Gdansk arena. Ireland will be haunted by this result for a long time to come.

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  1. June 15, 2012 at 16:17

    There are no doubts the match belonged to Spain, 3-0 at the first half was like a blade in the heart for Irish fans. Those most passionate I could just imagine what they felt… They could have just crack, but they never did. The support from fans went louder and louder as the words “The Fields of Athenry” faded the sparkle of Spains fourth goal. Irish fans showed their love to the soccer and I think this what really matters. Because of fans this match will remain in history of football.

    Simon
    http://traveleros.pl

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