Looking back at the warm ups gone by
It'll be fine
That rapid hissing sound on Tuesday night was the hope of Republic of Ireland fans rapidly deflating after a shocking 2-1 defeat to Belarus in Cork. A lackluster performance which touched on boring at times had the Boys in Green worrying. But in the words of Kolo Toure there is no need to be upset. Ireland always lose their last warm up game!
Since 1988, Ireland have qualified for six major tournaments and had the best fans at every single one.
Euro 88 vs Norway
Ireland had a decent run up to Euro 88 with victories against Poland and Yugoslavia. However, when they traveled to Oslo nine days before the tournament was beginning it was a bit different. The Republic coughed and spluttered to a 0-0. 11 days later, Ray Houghton put the ball into the English net but Ireland would miss out on a semi final spot by one point.
Italia 90 vs Malta
Having beaten Malta on the way to qualifying for the World Cup and off the back of draws with Finland and Turkey, Jack Charlton opted to play them again ten days before taking on England. A 3-0 win was the perfect situation and set Jackie’s Army up for their historic run.
USA 94 vs Czechoslovakia
Four years later and Charlton had taken his team to a second successive World Cup. Three friendlies against the Netherlands, Bolivia and Germany brought three victories and huge confidence heading into the final warm up against Czechoslovakia.
Lansdowne Road would see Ireland beaten comfortably 3-1 and exit the World Cup at the Round of 16 stage.
Korea Japan 2002
It would be eight years before the Irish qualified for a major tournament again. This time it was Nigeria who would come to town in the last game before the side set out for Saipan. Jay Jay Okocha and Kanu helped cause an upset as both assisted in a 2-1 victory for the Nigerians. Robbie Keane ,who played that day, is on the plane to France 14 years later.
A decade later and Giovanni Trappatoni has a pit stop on the way to Poland and the Ukraine. Hungary line up opposite a pretty experienced Irish side containing nine of the players heading to France in a week. A storm delayed kick off, but spirits were dampened further by the drab and uninspiring 0-0 draw. Ireland would be crushed at the Euros by Spain, Italy and Croatia.
So stop swearing and wondering who else you should back instead Irish fans. You’re used to being perennial losers in the run ups to major tournaments! Now, to blare Put Em Under Pressure for the next ten days. Olé Olé Olé Olé