Belfast Telegraph

Italian Rob gets the job Dunne for boys in white

By Billy Weir

You just knew that the Irish were spoiling for an upset when the first blow was struck before a ball was even kicked in Lille's peat bog.

Richard Dunne was more shriekingly violent than a shrinking violet and who could blame him for seeing red when ITV tried to put the boys in green down.

"There's a lot of motivation if we play France," growled Dunne, bringing howls of derision from his fellow panellists.

"Would you be referring about Thierry Henry's left hand?" chortled presenter Mark Pougatch.

"Well, youse have been going on about Maradona, so we've got ours." Game, set and on with the match. Dunne and dusted.

Maradona merited a mention as after the entertainment finished at Lille's revolutionary 4G pitch - that's for the four blades of grass that are still intact - ITV showed a super documentary about THAT goal by the Argentinian genius.

There seemed to be a lot of that going on, subtle mentions of other shows that might be coming up, Dunne regaining his composure to say that "on paper it is mission impossible". And on grass too, but that wasn't to be an issue.

Glenn Hoddle, one of those who watched Maradona making an eejit of Peter Shilton back in 1986, has been the master of stating the bleedin' obvious ever since, but even he was getting carried away by the occasion and Italy's decision to make eight changes for the game.

"They've got a bit more mobility up front with Immobile," he said, but as we wrestled with that one, we were off to commentator Sam Matterface, who had borrowed Clive Tyldesley's Big Boy's Book of Rehearsed Openings.

"Evening everyone, they've been trying to get you to go green for ages and I think now is the time," he said as Seamus Coleman led out the men in pristine white.

A couple of rumbustious anthems later and we were off, or so we thought, as Matterface turned to Page Two of Clive's book.

"He will have to have come up with a very specific call for this Italian Job, Martin O'Neill, he might have summoned up a bit of Michael Caine," he began.

Brace yourselves, there's more.

"It's a difficult job, the only way to get through it is if we work together as a team and that means you do everything I say," he concluded, as we lost the will to live and longed for him to get a coaching job, preferably dangling over a Alpine ravine.

The wonderfully-named Zaza was playing for Italy and we can only hope that somehow they get through to face Hungary and their keeper Gabor Kiraly at some stage. Write it down, Sam.

Also there was no mention of Italy fielding Ogbonna, no relation to Packie by all accounts, but they did make a significant change by bringing on the insignificant Insigne, who instantly smacked a shot off a post.

"He's only five foot four, which is the same height as Victoria Beckham - without the heels," Matterface revealed.

Irish sub Wes Hoolahan clearly hadn't time to change out of his slingbacks before coming on, missing a glorious chance to blow the Italians' door off.

Alongside him was former Ireland captain and former Englishman Andy Townsend, who was less than chuffed, but with his boots now on, Hoolahan became a hero, planting a perfect pass onto Robbie Brady's bonce and ensured the future of French victuallers for some tome to come.

"Getttttt innnnn," screamed Townsend and soon afterwards it was all over, Dunne spotted heading for the BBC studio to extend a friendly hand towards a certain Frenchman.

So, that's an Irish team through for everyone, and a third one if you count Iceland. Can they really beat England?

Probably not, but I look forward to Diego Maradonasson punching above his weight on Monday evening.

Belfast Telegraph