The Luck – And Occasionally Otherwise – Of The Irish

It was what I once erroneously called “the swings and roundabouts of outrageous fortune.” The Republic of Ireland’s international football team were ‘done’ by a clear handball from France’s Thierry Henry in the 2010 World Cup play-offs two years ago. And in the last group game of Euro 2012 qualifying, Ireland’s opponents Armenia were ‘done’ by a clear ‘not handball’ from their goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky. The inevitable knee-jerk reaction is to suggest that the “things” which we are constantly told “even themselves up over time,” have done precisely that in this instance. And the fear is that this debate masks a more long-term debate about the quality of Ireland’s football… no, let’s be brutal about this, the almost total lack of quality of Ireland’s football. Comparisons between the 2010 injustice meted out to the Irish team and the injustice(s) from which they benefited against Armenia are subject to conjecture, of course. But a quick reminder of just what Ireland were ‘denied’ by Henry was required. The anti-Henry outrage has played tricks with some memories and enhanced the view that Ireland were denied a place in South Africa. This was not the case. Had Henry’s handball been penalised, the likeliest outcome of the match would have been a 1-0 win to Ireland, after extra-time. This, in turn, would have led to a penalty shoot-out, as France had won the first...

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