Well that was a kick in the nuts. Four days after one of the most insipid displays from an Irish football team we saw one of the most sublime. After a bit of a stuttering start, Ireland actually began to pass the ball to each other and to pass through the French defence. By the simple expedient of playing 15 yards further up the pitch we managed to negate the French midfield and they were the ones that began to look disjointed with their forwards isolated up front.
And then came Keane’s goal, created by some glorious one-touch football that saw Duff do what he does best – get to the byline and deliver a wicked cross. From that moment we began to believe, especially when we didn’t do our usual thing and retreat. But with every missed opportunity, particularly Duff’s one-on-one with Loris, that belief slowly ebbed away. Once into extra time the hope was for penalties and even that looked a bit forlorn as we lost two of our first five takers in O’Shea and Whelan.
Deep into extra time FIFA’s prayers were answered. A nothing ball into the box that should have been dealt with by Dunne and McShane was beautifully controlled by the hand of Henry and Gallas put us away. All the talk of replays is just that, talk. The referee made his decision and thats that. We have another moral victory and Cowan has something to distract us from the mess that the country is in. Henry will become a hate figure, we’ll stop eating baguettes but, in time, we will forget and Dunphy will go back to sticking the boot in on Trappatoni. Roll on the Euro qualifiers.