Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Ireland’s progress. The 2006 Word Cup Qualifiers – France and the Faroe Islands.

After the high of the French result, a home game against the Faroe Islands was always going to be an anti-climax. Andy Reid started up front in place of the injured Clinton Morrison, allowing Damien Duff to continue on the left wing. Within three minutes, Duff had been clobbered twice, setting the tone for the whole game. Unfortunately the referee adopted a very charitable attitude to the minnows. Perhaps he thought they were going to lose anyway, and that was punishment enough. I don't agree. The rules should be applied evenly to all teams, irrespective of playing ability. Anyway back to the players. Andy Reid again hinted at why the Premiership clubs have stayed away in droves despite his “come and get me” pleas. Ireland completely dominated the game and had eleven corners in the first half, most of which were taken by Reid. From all of these, we had one clear header on goal. With talented crossers of the ball like Duff and Finnan in the team, one wonders why Reid wasn't told to just leave it and go have a burger (or whatever he eats to maintain that physique).

The inevitable breakthrough came in the 13th minute, when Damien Duff went on a mazy run through the Faroe Islands' penalty area, which ended in a penalty so obvious that it just had to be given. Robbie Keane stepped up and made the record his own. Despite earlier criticisms of Keane, respect is due. He is the top scorer for his country and scored more goals in just over 6 years than the previous record holder (the Mighty Quinn) scored in 16. And before anyone says that Keane takes our penalties, he does now but he wasn't always the man with the responsibility. He has taken (and scored) only three penalties for Ireland. His 22nd goal was greeted with a chorus of “Congratulations” on the Lansdowne tannoy and the crowd provided the expected enthusiasm. Keane's second goal of the day came after 31 minutes, when Keane the Elder won the ball in midfield, laid it off to Duff, who returned it. Keane continued his surging run into the penalty area, played it across to Keane (still with me?) who made the most of the opportunity and somersaulted his way into the record books.

The rest of the game was unremarkable. Kilbane was quieter than against the French, Duff raided at will, the defence was solid except for one moment in the 86th minute when Given saved the shot and their blushes.

Liam Miller was introduced in the second half and showed his customary high level of energy. It's not fair to label someone “the next Roy Keane”, but hey I'm going to do it anyway. Miller has the same combative style and work rate that Keane had at his age. Miller also displays a sweeter touch and a little more guile about his play. Of course he's unproven and only time will tell, but the scowling skinhead from Mayfield can't go on forever, and it would be nice to think there was someone to fill his boots.

From an up and coming player to someone who we all thought was past it and were glad to see the back of. Ian Harte joined Valencia's “other” club Levante this season, and by all accounts has been playing brilliantly. Harte is enjoying a new lease of life as Levante sit 6th in the Spanish league, ahead of Real Madrid! The left back's uncompromising style has endeared him to the Levante fans, who refer to him as the “Irish Bull”. I'm not going to start campaigning for Harte's return to the international fold, but maybe it might be worth the cost of a flight to Valencia if John O'Shea doesn't wake up and Finnan is required on the wing. Just a thought…

Finally, I was going to follow this with a little look ahead. I logged onto the FAI website (on 26th October) and had a search as I know there are a couple of International friendlies before our next competitive game against Israel in March. The FAI website did not have any details for these games. It did however have ticket information for the two games just gone by. On a whim, I had a look at the scorers charts and noticed that after two weeks they have still not given Robbie the credit for his achievements. Seeing as the FAI makes its money from the efforts of the team, including Robbie Keane, you might expect that they would be a bit more diligent. Similarly, if they are trying to encourage support for the home games, on of the best ways of ensuring a high turnout is to actually tell people the game is on. In the news lately we also see that the FAI board is not happy with Fran Rooney. Is it a coincidence that Rooney was the man brought in to implement the Genesis report, a document that was highly critical of the FAI? Plus ca change but at least I've now got something for my next column…

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