/ Euro 2012

Diary of a hard-working journalist: Mason in Montecatini - entry 2

Updated: Friday, 01 Jun 2012 12:50 | Comments

The Republic of Ireland line up against US Pistoiese in the Stadio Marcello Melani
The Republic of Ireland line up against US Pistoiese in the Stadio Marcello Melani

Audio

It was a day of earthquakes and shocks in Montecatini as northern Italy was rocked by Terromotte and Kevin Foley was left devastated by his axing from the Republic of Ireland squad.

Minutes after it was announced that Foley would not be playing in Euro 2012 this summer, the Wolves defender was spotted in the town.

The pictures that were tweeted out by some journalists yesterday afternoon show that he was clearly downbeat as he sat on a bench in a local park.

Paul McShane, who took Foley's place in the squad, will wear number 13 in the tournament, so he had some luck on his side this time.

There was further evidence of Foley's heartbreak later that night in the mixed zone after the 5-0 friendly win over a Pistoia select XI.

The emotion got the better of him and he was close to breaking down as he spoke to journalists from the daily papers.

"It is hard to take, you know. I sort of feel betrayed. I don't want to go into too much detail. I just feel betrayed," he said.

It is hard luck on Foley who has withdrawn from very few Ireland squads over the years and has earned just eight caps in six years.

EARTHQUAKE

For those of us who were awake for the earthquake, it was the first topic of discussion when we came down for breakfast or met in the lobby of the Ariston Hotel.

We wondered could it really have been an earthquake or were we just imagining it after a late night.

Despite disrupted wi-fi connection we were soon able to confirm that the movement that caused the hotel to shake and the windows to rattle just after 9am was indeed an earthquake.

The force of the 5.8 quake was frightening here in Montecatini and it is little wonder it caused such widespread damage around 200km away at the epicentre.

Lying on my bed on the first floor, I initially thought it was a rubbish truck coming up the nearby laneway or cleaning staff trying to get into my room.

But the noise from the rumbling underground became louder and the shaking of the hotel's walls more violent.

We joked around breakfast about our initial thoughts that it could have been one of the journalists getting lucky with the locals or an American women's volleyball team staying in the town.

However, the mood changed to a sombre tone when the scale of the devastation became clear and the number of fatalities began to steadily rise.

The second tremor just before 1pm local time caused further anxiety for those of us experiencing such things for the first time.

You begin to wonder if the hotel you're staying in can withstand the shock.

The team, who are staying nearby, where unaffected by the quakes and aftershocks, although Sean St Ledger did tweet that Simon Cox was scared to see the chandelier shaking in his room.

There was a minute's silence at last night's game in Pistoia and FAI officials wore black armbands in respect of the dead.

A horse and cart had temporarily delayed the team bus on way its way from Montecatini to Pistoia, which is around 12km away.

The match itself passed off peacefully in the Stadio Marcello Milani, which is the home of US Pistoiese.

There were no injury concerns and four of the squad's strikers got on scoresheet, which will boost confidence ahead of the tournament.

It's a rest day today for the players and some are choosing to play golf or go sightseeing in the bigger Tuscan cities.

Shane Long claimed that he and Kevin Doyle are the men to beat on the course but McShane described Long's boasts as "all talk".

One of those eschewing the golf course for the more high-brow pursuits is defender Stephen Kelly.

The self-confessed "history buff" is keen to visit Florence for the first time and examine the Renaissance artworks.

Just one more thing, Keane gave his jersey at half-time to Tuscan midfielder Corrado Colombo, who had been at Inter Milan with him in 2000.

It is not known if the Ireland skipper received a grubby beige mack in return.

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