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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ireland-Croatia Post Mortem

Now that the dust has settled it's time to look back at the debacle from Sunday & what exactly happened to the Ireland team that we had expected to see going into Euro 2012.

What Happened: Zero discipline, A total failure on the part of Ireland to adhere, even minimally, to the most basic elements of the system that has been well estanlished by Trapattoni was at the heart of their downfall. Between playing far too wide open for what they are actually capable of playing & an inability to close down Croatian midfield maestro Luka Modric was at the heart of their downfall. Not to mention that it didn't help matters that Shay Given had, quite possibly, the worst performance of his international career.  A terrible day all around for Irish fans, though I suspect the fine makers of Guinness will have found it to be quite profitable.

What (if anything) went right: Aside from Sean St. Ledger heading home a well taken free kick by Aidan McGeady there wasn't much more positive than that i'm afraid.

What went wrong: Oh boy, where to begin. It seemed that just about everything that could have gone wrong for the Boys in Green did go wrong.  I mentioned some of the failings on the day above, but believe there are more. The next of which is the manager.  Trapattoni's performance in running the show from the sidelines was horrendous. He looked as if he had no  answers for what Croatia was doing & was badly out-coached by his counterpart Slaven Bilic. The there was his choice of substitutions, which left much to be desired. Taking off Kevin Doyle, who was having  a decent game & drew the foul that lead to the free kick responsible for the goal, was questionable. Even more questionable was the decision to take off McGeady, while largely anonymous on the day, in favour of Simon Cox was mind boggling. While adding a 3rd striker would have been a prudent move, making that happen by reducing the already limited creative capacity of the side defied logic. The more apt replacement would have been James McClean, his energy & dynamism would have been a welcome addition to the mix. Trap however showed his pigheaded refusal to give Ireland's promising young players a chance, & it may have cost ireland on the day.

We could also mentioned the cock up by the referee to not award a penalty to Robbie Keane when the Croat defender took him down sloppily in the box, but given the poor display all around from the Republic on the day, I doubt it would have made any difference in the final outcome. Though, the crap decision by the ref was emblematic of Ireland's plight on the day. Nothing went their way on Sunday.

Man of the Match:  The clear cut choice for this was Sean St. Ledger. Aside from being the only goal scorer, he also was Ireland's most competant defender. Sure, he wasn't perfect, but compared to the other, I felt he made the fewest mistakes & was least responsible for the failings of the backline. Keth Andrews also deserves an honourable mention, one of the few offensive bright spots on the day

Final Thought: It wasn't so much the defeat on Sunday, but the manner of it. Ireland were very poor  against Croatia, the buoyancy & optimism with which the army of supporters had for the Boys in Green going into to the tournament made this defeat seem even worse than perhaps than it was. Look, I know, & all rational Ireland supporters know, that our guys are in tough here & while optimistic I wouldn't have been surprised by a loss. It's okay to do so, so long as they give an effort that we can be proud of. Sunday's performance definitely did not do that. Let's hope for better against Spain on Thursday.

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