Here we go again. Another big tournament. Another tough group. This time however, there is a sense of realism about the Irish team and supporters.
Few are muttering “If we can just win that game, who knows.” It seems as though the calming presence of Martin O’ Neill and the brutal honesty of Roy Keane, has combined to create an underwhelmed enthusiasm.
Perhaps of course due to Ireland’s horrific performance in Euro 2012, and their inability to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, there is just a more realistic understanding of where the team lies in world football.
There has been very little excitement and even less of the madness that engulfed the Road to Poznan in 2012. Maybe the fans will kick into gear this week, and the whirlwind of unrealistic expectation will get out of control, again.
In truth, it just doesn’t feel right without the buzz. So let’s get excited. Let’s believe the impossible is possible, and let’s enjoy the journey. We may not have the greatest players in the world and we may not have a realistic chance of winning the Euro’s, but what we do have are the best fans in the world.
Just look at what Leicester achieved this season.
Let that be the greatest motivator to all the Irish fans who refuse to believe. It may seem far fetched, but if you were told in August that Leicester City would beat Spurs to the top spot in the Premier League by ten points, you would have asked the person if they understood football at all.
Leicester were 5000/1. Ireland are 100/1. So technically, according to the bookmakers we have a 50 times better chance of winning the Euro’s then Leicester had of winning the League.
While all of that may be nonsense and hold no prevalence to the players, it should at least inspire. Inspire our great nation to hang out the buntings and flags and get behind our boys in green. We rarely get the opportunity to cheer our boys on in the big competitions, so we should cherish every opportunity. Let’s remember, we beat the current world champions Germany and held them to a draw on German soil.
We may not be the best, but we are resilient.
Ireland’s biggest flaw in Euro 2012 was their inability to keep their composure, especially in defence. It appears now as though the combination of O’ Neill and Keane have tightened up that area and have the players keeping their heads under the most extreme pressures, as displayed against Germany in the Aviva. Roy Keane has been unfairly criticised for losing his cool and berating the players.
The players need all the motivation they can get.
In Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane, Ireland have found the perfect balance of ‘good cop, bad cop’. Let’s hope this translates to the team exceeding expectations and achieving the unthinkable. Let us get behind them.
All together now: ‘Come On You Boys In Green’.