When something amazing happens to the Irish, we tend to cling onto it with every last fiber of our being. Snow? Jaysus, that’s an excuse for a hot dinner. The trams are striking? Well, that’ll mean less hassle to cross the road. That big yellow thing in the sky is back? Barbecue!
And that appears to be happening once again following their draw with Sweden on Monday evening, as Paddy Power customers are contemplating the luck of the Irish striking again against Belgium.
50 Years of hurt
Forget your Three Lions, it’s been 50 years since the Republic of Ireland even beat the Belgians. They’ve never managed to do it competitively, drawing at three World Cups. Belgium knocked Ireland out of the World Cup 98 qualifying, as Mick McCarthy recalled in his exclusive column.
But just like the anti-Liverpool argument, history means nothing unless you can do it in the present. And our punters don’t seem to care about history as there’s been twice as many bets on Ireland () than on Eden Hazard’s lads (). In fact, 50% of all bets have gone onto the Boys in Green.
So it seems that most people are using their heart over their head. After all, Belgium are ranked as the best team in Europe. And those FIFA rankings are extremely trustworthy, we say with our tongues firmly in our cheeks.
A Long shot?
After seeing the swashbuckling performance against the Swedes, the fans are loving the look of Shane Long as first goalscorer. There’s been more bets on the man from Gortnahoe than on Hazard and Romelu Lukaku. We think that most people are just hoping for another performance like the one against Germany – John O’Shea nicked an equalizer in Gelsenkirchen in qualifying and he’s to open the scoring against Marc Wilmot’s Red Devils. We’ve taken some money on it.
Long scored a goal every three games in qualifying, a stat slightly better than his overall average of a goal every 3.8 games. He was stifled by the Swedes but when was the last time an Irishman gave up when presented with a Swedish problem? Oh, yeah, that time with the flatpack…
What’s the score?
Throwing the stereotypes of scrappy Irish football off, when O’Neill’s side then to win games they win them in style. In the ten wins since the Derryman took charge, the Boys in Green have won seven of them by more than one goal, including that famous German victory. But based on the Sweden game and how the Belgians were flat against Italy, punters are backing a 2-1 Irish scoreline as the most popular with a 1-1 draw following close behind. We’ve had one man try and repeat the Northern Ireland punter who went in the Hall of Fame by putting money on a 5-0 Ireland win at massive odds of 500/1.
If that happens, they might as well hand the trophy to Ireland on Sunday morning. Although we doubt they would. Sad emoji.