Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Steven Beacom: Republic of Ireland Euro 2012 flops simply got what they deserved

GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Shay Given of Republic of Ireland looks on during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Republic of Ireland football fan Laura Carroll from Navan in Gdansk, Poland before the UEFA Euro 2012, Group C match against Spain
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Republic of Ireland fans after the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Football fans soak up the atmopshere during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Republic of Ireland fans soak up the atmopshere during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Republic of Ireland fans soak up the atmopshere during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: A Republic of Ireland fan gives the thumbs up during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: A Republic of Ireland fan yawns during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Republic of Ireland fans soak up the atmopshere during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Republic of Ireland fans soak up the atmopshere during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: A Republic of Ireland fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: A Republic of Ireland fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: A Republic of Ireland fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Republic of Ireland fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Republic of Ireland fans ahead of the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Republic of Ireland fans ahead of the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: A Republic of Ireland fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Republic of Ireland fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Republic of Ireland fans look on during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: A Republic of Ireland fan looks on during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Republic of Ireland fans look on during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: A Republic of Ireland fan looks on during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: A Republic of Ireland fan looks on during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: A Republic of Ireland fan looks on during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
Republic of Ireland fans in Gdansk, Poland before the UEFA Euro 2012, Group C match against Spain
Republic of Ireland fans in Gdansk, Poland before the UEFA Euro 2012, Group C match against Spain
Republic of Ireland fan Malachy Gormley in Gdansk, Poland before the UEFA Euro 2012, Group C match against Spain
The Pedal to Poland charity team who cycled from Dublin, with RTE presenter Pat Kenny on their arrival in Gdansk, Poland before the UEFA Euro 2012, Group C match against Spain
Republic of Ireland and Spainish fans in Gdansk, Poland before the UEFA Euro 2012, Group C match
Republic of Ireland fans pose for pictures with Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar (second left) in Gdansk, Poland before the UEFA Euro 2012, Group C match against Spain
The Pedal to Poland charity team who cycled from Dublin arrive in Gdansk, Poland before the UEFA Euro 2012, Group C match against Spain. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 14, 2012
Republic of Ireland fans in Gdansk, Poland before the UEFA Euro 2012, Group C match against Spain
Republic of Ireland fans in Gdansk, Poland before the UEFA Euro 2012, Group C match against Spain
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: David Silva (L) of Spain pulls away from Stephen Ward of Ireland during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Jonathan Walters of Republic of Ireland clashes with Xabi Alonso of Spain during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Shay Given of Republic of Ireland stops Fernando Torres of Spain's effort on goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Fernando Torres of Spain celebrates scoring their thrid goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Fernando Torres of Spain scores their thrid goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Fernando Torres of Spain celebrates scoring their thrid goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: David Silva of Spain celebrates scoring his goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Andres Iniesta of Spain and Keith Andrews of Republic of Ireland compete for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: David Silva of Spain controls the ball during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Gerard Pique and Alvaro Arbeloa of Spain put pressure on Robbie Keane of Republic of Ireland during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: James McClean and Richard Dunne of Republic of Ireland appalud the fans after the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Stephen Ward of Republic of Ireland clashes with Fernando Torres of Spain during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Cesc Fabregas of Spain celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Daivd Silva during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Fernando Torres of Spain breaks forward to score their thrid goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: Cesc Fabregas of Spain scores their fourth goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
GDANSK, POLAND - JUNE 14: (L-R) Sean St Ledger, Shay Given and Richard Dunne of Republic of Ireland sit dejected after Fernando Torres of Spain scored their third goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C match between Spain and Ireland at The Municipal Stadium on June 14, 2012 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

So, the Republic of Ireland are the first nation to be eliminated from the European Championship finals. Appropriate really as they are the worst team in the competition.

Can't say I'm surprised by the early exit. Once the draw for the Euro 2012 groups was made it was as clear as Xabi Alonso's 20/20 vision, that Giovanni Trapattoni's team would be dumped after a couple of dates.

Prior to a ball being kicked, of course there was huge optimism in Irish ranks that they would enjoy a long love affair with this tournament.

The Republic fans, especially the thousands who travelled to Poland, were talking about who they would play in the knockout stages, the dream scenario being a quarter-final meeting with old foes England.

Even some of the players got into the act — brashly predicting that they would create waves. I love a bit of optimism, but perhaps the Irish should have travelled with more realism in their bags.

Being unlucky to be placed in the same section as Croatia, Spain and Italy, Trapattoni's squad were always going to find the mountain impossible to climb.

As I said last week if the Republic earn a point before going home they'll have done well. Their final chance of achieving that will come next week against an Italian side needing a victory to have a chance of staying alive in the show themselves.

Whipped by a Croatian side far better than Irish supporters gave them credit for, the Republic were given a footballing lesson by the Spanish last night.

Mind you, they aren't the only country to have experienced that in the past five years.

Even the best Republic of Ireland XI in history, containing, say iconic figures like Paul McGrath, Johnny Giles, Roy Keane, Ronnie Whelan and Frank Stapleton would have struggled against this lot.

Spain are the World and European champions and are one of the greatest teams we've ever seen with majestic, magical footballers like Xavi, Iniesta, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas and Alonso.

Such was their dominance last night Spain really ought to have scored 10.

In the end they happily settled for four as Fernando Torres netted twice. Silva and substitute Fabregas were also on target.

For all Spain's brilliant play, though, from an Irish standpoint all the goals could have been avoided.

Just what is it with Trapattoni's team at the start of each half? They conceded early in the first and second against Croatia and did it again last night. Criminal.

Surely after what happened

on Monday, alarm bells should have been going off in the heads of Shay Given and his defence when the referee blew his whistle to get the action under way.

Once again though the goalkeeper and his back four were asleep allowing Torres and Silva to deliver classy finishes at crucial periods in the game.

After that, it was a case of how many with Torres and Fabregas, taking advantage of more defensive howlers, piling on the pain against opposition who frankly were out of their depth.

Of course the Republic put in plenty of effort, but there was precious little quality on the rare occasions when they actually had the ball.

Aiden McGeady again disappointed, Damien Duff was even worse and was captain Robbie Keane even on the pitch? I didn't see him.

Distinctly average midfielders Glen Whelan and Keith Andrews were ran ragged and then there was the defence, who folded in the face of vastly superior footballers.

Londonderry man James McClean saw some action, making his competitive international debut as a late replacement, but he did about as much as the other men in green. Nothing.

The Republic came into this tournament with great hope.

They'll leave it knowing they simply aren't good enough at this level. Not even close.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre