Out but proud with added Postscript

Out but proud with added Postscript

So Ireland’s journey in the Euros came to an end today in the last 16 against the hosts, France. It was always going to be tough but for a little under an hour we were dreaming of what may be as Robbie Brady gave Ireland an early lead. Brady, the hero in the last round against Italy, brilliantly stroked an early penalty to the French net to give Ireland something to hang on to.

Last weekend Ireland was well beaten by Belgium but they regrouped and during the week a late Robbie Brady header gave Ireland the win they needed to progress into the last 16. After the defeat by Belgium, the victory over Italy lifted the team and country.

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Robbie Brady scores v Italy

This morning I was up early and with a new US friend I headed around to my neighbors house, a fellow Irishman from Kildare, to settle down and watch the match. We hadn’t even got comfortable when the referee pointed to the spot and Ireland had a penalty after barely 90 seconds. Up stepped Robbie Brady, and he scored to give Ireland the lead. Que celebrations but also knowing this French side aren’t bad so it was going to be tough.

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Robbie Brady scores penalty v France

Ireland played great in the first half and could have had a second goal but it didn’t come. The half time break came, time for another mug of tea and take stock. Could we hang on, were we going to emulate Stuttgart in 1988, or would the French step up their game and hit back. Unfortunately, it was the latter as the French hit 2 second half goals to win 2-1 and our dream was over.

This Irish team was written of a year ago, but they regrouped and fought to qualify, defeating Germany in the process. During the Euros we seen the best if this team in the draw against Sweden and the win against Italy. This was tempered by the defeat to Belgium, but we have a platform now to build on. Today we were beaten, we are out of the Euros, we are proud of the team and the future for this squad of players is bright. Thank you Ireland for a wonderful 2 weeks of football.

As an added Postscript I woukd like to add that the Irish fans in France were immense, as always. Singing, supporting and partying away with no hint of trouble. They have endeared themselves to the French and the watching public. Just one thing, if just 10% of those that attended the games in France headed to a local League of Ireland match, the future of the international team would be secure. Coleman, Hoolahan, McClean, Ward and Quinn all played in the League of Ireland and it’s only with investment and fans will the next stars make the breakthrough.

Feast of Football

Feast of Football

Before I start this post I just want everyone to know I am talking about Association Football, soccer, not American Football when I say football. The USA can try rename the most popular sport in the world, Heineken may even have an advert where they tell you it’s OK to call it soccer, but to me it’s FOOTBALL.

Anyway, June has started with a bit of a football feast. Normally the seasons around Europe are winding down but I still have the Airtricity League in Ireland and St Patrick’s Athletic to follow, but this summer not only do I have my normal football, but I have the European Championships in France and the Copa America in the USA. I have been enjoying the Copa America live on US tv but like at home I have to turn the commentators to mute. What is it with TV commentators talking absolute rubbish during games or not having a clue about teams or matches?

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Football

I went to watch the USA play on the big screen outdoors, which is an advantage living in Atlanta, last week but unfortunately for the championship hosts the first game ended in defeat to Columbia but the USA still have a great chance to progress but first up they need to defeat Costa Rica in their next match later tonight. The game of the competition so far has definitely been Argentina v Chile but it is very early days with only 8 matches played so far. It was end to end stuff throughout the full 90 mins, which was great to see.

This Friday sees the start of the Euro 2016 Championships in France and Ireland have qualified so there is an added interest. Ireland are joined by Northern Ireland, Wales and England so there will be a lot of interest among the British Isles nations. I will be cheering on 3 of those 4 nations and it doesn’t take me to spell it out who I won’t be cheering on 🙂

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Ireland will be hoping Robbie Keane can get fit and score at the Euros

Ireland are in a tough group and I will be delighted if they progress and it will really depend on how well they do in their very first game. A defeat in that match will make it extremely tough for Ireland to qualify for the next phase so a win or draw is vital. With the Airtricity League taking a break for a week I will be following the Euros and the Copa as much as I can, especially with kick offs in the Euros in the mornings and the Copa in the evenings, some days I will see some matches, others I won’t see any at all.

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Club and Country

St Patrick’s Athletic aren’t having a great season so far so maybe the small break will allow them to regroup and start the second part of the season in better form. Either way I look forward to following them online and via radio commentary. As a football fan, this summer is a dream summer with so much football on, and nearly all of it live on tv here in the USA. Of course nothing beats being at a live game so I look forward to Atlanta United starting next season in the MLS and I hope to get to a Atlanta Silverbacks game soon as well. Maybe I will even get back into photographing matches over here like I did back in Ireland.

These last 8 weeks or so have seen me make a bit of a come back to playing some football, purely for fun and a little bit of exercise. I joined a 7 a side team which playing in a supporters club league run by Sons of Pitches and even though we were a new team who only met the day of our first match we done well. We finished the league part of the season in 6th place put of 8 but 4 teams had near identical records of wins and loses.  So into the playoffs we went and in our quarter final we defeated the 3rd place team to qualify for the semi finals and to meet up with a team who had given us our biggest defeat and were the 2nd ranked team. This time though we had our full squad, knew each other a lot better and after a 2-2 draw we won on penalties and so qualified for the final. Alas, the final was one game to many and we lost 3-1 to the number 1 ranked team. We have already signed up to play again in the Summer league and will be hoping to go one better or at least have fun trying.