In Greek mythology, Sisyphus, being punished for his deceitfulness, was compelled to roll a boulder uphill for eternity only to watch the rock slide down the slope every time he reached the summit. If you want to similarly creatively chasten an Irish person, you could arrange that they must watch the frantic denouement to Ireland’s 2014 Six Nation’s campaign over and over without ever getting the relief of Steve Walsh’s final whistle.
It’s one of the oddities of sport that high stakes occasions like the one we saw on Saturday in Paris (for the invested viewer anyway) is probably one of the least enjoyable experiences there is. The wait while Walsh tried to find any reason to allow France’s late score in the corner was particularly tortuous. Nerves ruin the experience of actually watching the contest. With that much on the line, it’s all about the pay-off once the right result is secured.
Another International Football tournament is upon us, and while in Ireland this competition has been fervently anticipated (owing to the rarity of us actually qualifying for something) across Europe there seems to be more of an ambivalent attitude towards this particular European Championship. England go into the tournament under a cloud of low morale and even lower expectations, France is still suffering the effects of the hangover from their humiliation in South Africa two years ago with a squad still unloved by many French people. For Spain’s supporters and players motivation is the problem as they have it all already. Italy’s woes are such that their coach accepted that a withdrawal from the tournament might be a blessing. Ukrainian media outlets didn’t see fit to send even one of their own reporters to their nation’s training camp in Austria and they are one of the co-hosts. Having half the tournament in Ukraine given it’s logistical issues as well as fears over crowd trouble hasn’t helped spread the Euro 2012 fever. This tournament then, outside of our own Isle, is one of the least hyped or anticipated of the modern era.