The Irish Football Teams Are Out – But What a Ride!

Well it really wasn’t a great weekend for the Irish football teams. On Saturday, a valiant and rather unlucky Northern Ireland went down 1-0 to Wales after a Gareth McAuley own goal. The Republic, despite a strong start where they scored in the first two minutes, ended up losing 2-1 after a Antoine Griezmann double.

Ball flies into net

I have to say, I was pretty gutted about both results. I am first generation English, so have always had a real soft spot for the Irish teams. My first world cup was Mexico 86, and I remember my family being upset when Northern Ireland were being hammered and sent home early. I never expected at such a young age, to be waiting 30 years for them to have another chance. The Republic performed miracles to get out of the groups, but the ride came to an end at roughly the time the French banged in their second.

It is apparent to me, that both teams have surpassed expectations. Both teams have been accused of negative tactics, and it is safe to say, neither had tactics like Brazil 1970. But let us take a look at their line ups. Northern Ireland didn’t have a team that was reminiscent of 1982, or even 1984, when they were eight minutes away from going to Euro 84 at the expense of W. Germany. The Republic didn’t have a team like 88, 90, 94, 2002 or 2010, when an Henry handball unjustly knocked them out in a world cup play off. There really wasn’t much choice…these aren’t golden generations.

Hard Work Goes a Long Way

What it has proven is that hard work can get you a long way. The nation has got behind two teams that are busting their ass to try and do the best for the fans, and the country as a whole. That means the supporters will never be disappointed. It could be said, both teams over-achieved.

As ever, the Irish fans have been some of the best in the whole tournament. Whilst we have seen the Russians and the English engaging in WWIII, the Irish fans, irrespective of which side of the border they come from, have sung, drank and partied their way into the hearts of local residents. No matter where they go, the Irish have a knack of making themselves loved!

It has been a wonderful few weeks. A nation has come together, and not only that, they have been bloody successful. I really do hope that it won’t be another 30 years before either team make their way to the big stage. One thing that has to be said about the expansion of the Euro’s to 24 teams, it makes it easier to qualify. I suspect that we will be seeing both Irish teams at a major tournament in the future.

I will sign off by giving a big thumbs up to the O’Neill boys. The managers of both teams have done a great job, making the most out of what they have been given. For that, everyone is thankful!

Martin Ward
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