/ News

Dave reports from Gdansk on a night where the Irish fans, but sadly not the Irish team, made a lasting impression

Updated: Friday, 15 Jun 2012 16:33 | Comments

The Irish fans outnumbered and outsung their Spanish counterparts from start to finish
The Irish fans outnumbered and outsung their Spanish counterparts from start to finish

There had been a sense of foreboding before the game, and it was well founded.

The Irish players will be back in Dublin on Tuesday after over a month together. It's been great while it lasted.

Inevitably, the debate will now rage after Ireland's heaviest competitive defeat in 41 years, and their heaviest ever at a major tournament. The senior players that have served the team so well down the years may decide that now is the time to bring to an end their involvement.

With that possibility in mind, the build up to the World Cup qualifying campaign needs to start on Monday. After the final Euro 2012 game against Italy there is just the August friendly in Serbia to come before the Republic of Ireland's opening Group C fixture away to Kazakhstan. The group also includes Germany, Sweden, Austria, and the Faroe Islands.

Qualifying for the finals in Brazil 2014 is clearly going to be a tall order. Ideally, Euro 2012 will end on a positive note in Poznan with an Irish win, but let’s look at the bigger picture. The likes of James McClean, Shane Long, Stephen Kelly and Darren O'Dea would all benefit greatly from starting a game at a major tournament.

The fans we spoke to last night were disappointed, but realistic in their views. Clearly, there is no shame in losing to the World and European Champions. The Republic of Ireland were not the first, and won't be the last, side to be outclassed by what is a very special team.

The concession of the early goal made an already uphill task all the more difficult. Giovanni Trapattoni seemed to be a lot less animated in his technical area than normal as the game progressed. Make no mistake, he will be hurting this morning. This is a man who is among the most successful managers in the history of the game. For any Trapattoni side to lose such a high profile game by such a margin is hard to accept.

Some of the fans questioned the FAI's decision to award Trapattoni a contract extension before the tournament, but I disagree. Qualifying this team for European Championship is success in itself. With Poland and Ukraine qualifying as co-hosts, Ireland are one of only 14 nations across Europe to have made it to the finals. For a nation with limited resources, that has to be regarded as an achievement worthy of a new deal for the management team.

As one supporter pointed out to me, the teams last night were operating levels apart. The Spanish starting XI was dominated by Barcelona and Real Madrid players, with the likes of David Silva, of Premier League champions Manchester City, and Fernando Torres, of Champions League winners Chelsea, also included. The Irish player in the side last night with the highest Premier League finish was Damien Duff, of ninth place Fulham.

The team will have a late afternoon workout in Gdynia today, and another morning session tomorrow. The journey to Poznan may be a little subdued, but qualification for the tournament was always the target. The European Championships are being expanded to a 24-nation tournament, starting with France 2016. In sport, disappointment is followed by the realisation that further opportunity will always present itself in the future.

Again, the Irish supporters did themselves proud last night. They outnumbered and outsung their Spanish counterparts from start to finish, despite the events on the pitch. Poland has really taken to the Irish fans, and that was clearly evident last night. 'Polska for the Boys in the Green' reverberated around the PGE Arena in Gdansk towards the end of the game. A moment to remember on a night to forget.

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use
Live!
Powered by NewsWhip