There have been great times for the Irish national team under Martin O’Neill. Wesley Hoolahan’s goal against Sweden. Shane Long’s stunner against Germany. That time O’Neill lost the plot with Tony O’Donoghue on RTÉ.
In many ways, the Derryman’s reign has been a successful one. In the past, it was possible even to exult in the atrocious long-ball football employed by the team simply because they kept on getting decent results.
There were hilarious moments when more talented opponents were left rattled and bamboozled at having to deal with about a hundred steepling kickouts from Darren Randolph or Shay Given in each half. Who can forget the bemused reactions of the German players who conceded that famous goal from Long in 2015?
But now, well, it’s just painful. We’ve got Cyrus Christie in midfield and James McClean playing as a wing-back – not that they ever really touch the ball, considering it’s generally flying several kilometres over their head.
Still, it could be worse – they could be Scotland, for example. So we set about proving that, actually, watching the goalkeepers of Ireland pummelling balls into the clouds is not all bad. Here are five things we found that are infinitely less appealing.
Just golf in general. In the past, it was a game for the infirm or those too elderly to partake in other, more interesting activities, such as watching dry paint get even drier. It was a pursuit for people whose favourite colour is beige, whose idea of a wild adventure is a trip to Tesco to buy a packet of vegetarian sausage rolls.
Now, all that has changed. People under the age of 40 are rumoured to be actually playing golf, never mind just taking a vague interest in what Tiger Woods is up to. There have even been unconfirmed reports that teenagers are starting to play the sport, which is something the UN Human Rights Commission will surely have to investigate.
For those seeking an even more dull evening in front of the TV compared to Ireland v Wales on Tuesday, consider tuning into Sky Sports Golf instead.
The relationships and reproductive activities of the British Royal Family
Have you heard? Meghan Markle is having a baby and the door of a drawing room was left open in the background of a photo at Princess Eugenie’s wedding. Huge if true.
If you’re the type of person who loves to feel subservient to a group of people who haven’t really done anything meaningful with their lives, you could start off watching Celebrity Big Brother and then, if you like what you see, ratchet up the dullness a notch by becoming a ‘Royal watcher’.
The hours will fly by as you coo and caw over what material Eugenie’s dress was made of, or speculate as to whether Prince Andrew will spend summer in Davos or Kavos. Far better than trying to work out why Martin O’Neill is playing Jeff Hendrick as a sweeper in a back five against Kazakhstan.
There's a #RoyalBaby on the way. What name will they go for?
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) October 15, 2018
Transfer Deadline Day
Can you believe it’s only 98 days until the 2018-19 winter transfer window SLAMS SHUT?
Does anyone care anymore? From what we can tell, there hasn’t been a decent deadline day since Fernando Torres took a chopper from Liverpool to London, or perhaps when Peter Odemwingie found himself alone in his motor chatting to Sky Sports News reporters in the car park at Loftus Road.
Yet some earnest anoraks still go through the charade, raptly noting that Barry Chumbaxter’s loan move from Airdrieonians to AFC Fylde is now a DONE DEAL. All things considered, Ireland defending with ten men behind the ball at home to Luxembourg is a vastly more appealing proposition.
— Jagaban (@_Saadiq) January 31, 2018
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United
You knew it was coming, right?
To be fair to Martin O’Neill, it’s not as if he has several billion quid’s worth of talent to work with. No, he’s got Richie Keogh and Daryl Murphy.
But you can’t make the same excuse for Jose Mourinho, whose current United side is clearly based on the attacking principles laid down by O’Neill. Namely, lining up as many players as possible along the edge of your own penalty box and, once the ball is secured, punting it forward without regard for where it might end up.
If you’re a true connoisseur of stultifying, disheartening football, Old Trafford rather than Lansdowne Road is currently the place to be.
Football matches played behind closed doors
As England’s trip to Rijeka to take on Croatia proved, football without fans is exceptionally dull.
What was happening on the pitch wasn’t necessarily bad in itself, though the 0-0 scoreline suggests it was, but the lack of any atmosphere made the game about as exciting as a 600-page book on the history of wallpaper.
UEFA surely need to reconsider their policy on this kind of thing. Still one positive was that no fans equalled no England band. Their absence is something we can all get behind.