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.
So the postmortem is well under way. Ireland are out of the European Championship and they have been utterly humiliated. Most people seem to accept that whatever players we played, whatever formation we set out and whatever system we used it is the fact that the players aren’t good enough which has scuppered us. In twenty years we have produced only one player that can truly be said to have been world class. The days are gone when the top six English clubs were littered with Irish squad members. People have lamented these facts yet there has been very talk of how it all came to this and what exactly we can do to turn the tide. The story of course centres around the destination we outsource all of our best footballing talent to: England.