“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thierry Henry: My Two Francs

A terrific performance (what’s rare is wonderful) from the Irish football team in Paris last night wasn’t enough to see us qualify for next year’s World Cup, but in terms of people to blame, Thierry Henry is about fifteenth on the list.
  Yes, he blatantly handled the ball to set up Gallas for the French equaliser, but Ireland – had they the class – should have been 3-0 or 4-0 up on the night by then: Duff, Keane, Doyle and O’Shea all had chances that you’d expect a player of international quality to score. Then there’s the performance itself: had Trapattoni allowed / encouraged that kind of performance all through the qualifying series, there’s a decent chance Ireland wouldn’t have wound up in the play-offs in the first place. Finally, the hand-ball: did anyone else notice that Robbie Keane got pulled up four times – that’s four times – for hand-ball during the game, one of which was in the box as he tried to turn Gallas? Now, deliberate hand-ball is due a yellow card; Keane shouldn’t have been on the pitch by the end, had the ref been looking to stitch up Ireland at the behest of FIFA, as the more demented morons have been suggesting (he could also have easily given a penalty for Anelka’s dive, had he been so inclined).
  Anyway, the point about Keane and his multiple hand-balls: he cheated but we didn’t profit; Henry cheated and France profited. Where’s the moral high ground there?
  Oh, and while were banging on about hand-ball: anyone (yours truly included) who laughed themselves sick at Maradona’s ‘hand of God’ goal against England in 1986 has no right to (a) get up on their high horse about Henry or (b) join in the growing demand from the headbangers, including Liam Brady, calling for a replay. It was a game of football. We didn’t do enough to win it. Get over yourselves.
  Roll it there, Collette …

9 comments:

John McFetridge said...

Maybe the geatest hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky, almost always known as a fair-play player once said, "Hey, the ref can't see everything, you've got to try."

It's a terrible way to go out, but it's what athletes do, they try everything they can and sometimes they get aay with it.

Still, if the NFL can have video replay....

NQ said...

And as a Hull City fan, i've got ask what on earth was Paul McShane doing sleeping at the back post...

Declan Burke said...

John - video replay should be a no-brainer at this stage.

NQ - Yep, McShane was caught out badly: Henry and ball should have landed in Row Z.

Cheers, Dec

Uriah Robinson said...

What happened to the luck of the Irish? Drawn in a group with the World champions Italy and then a playoff against the losing finalists.
Ireland missed a lot of chances but France were absolutely dreadful until they realised they faced the lottery of a penalty shoot out.
Video replay and technology should be brought in for all sports.
France will probably win in South Africa after that escape.

NQ said...

And a big 'no' from me to video replays in football. It doesn't suit the rhythm of the game, and where do you draw the line...penalties, goal-line technology...throw-ins? I can maybe see a case for goal-line technology, if it transmits immediately to the referee, but no further. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but the human judgment is what makes the game great. Maybe the players could try cheating a bit less?

John McFetridge said...

Of course we have qute a different view in North America where our "football" has quite a different rhythm, but the line has been drawn pretty well. Coaches have the option to ask for a video replay only if they have time outs left and if their challenge is not held up they lose a time out, so becomes part of the strategy.

I suppose in soccer a coach could ask for a video replay if he still had a substitution left and if the challenge is not held up they lose a substitution - that way it certainly wouldn't happen very often and would be part of the strategy.

But really, what I wanted to say is, I don't want the players to cheat less. Seeing how far they can push the rules and what they can get away with is one of the things I like about sports and I like it more and more as we become a more rules-obsessed society.

marco said...

Yeah, the Irish were very unlucky.
The French did make a big fuss about being "true sportsmen" after the lost 2006 final though, so in a sense this is a belated answer to all their pretense of moral high ground.

Ciaran said...

Keane handled the ball several times, ref spotted it. Anelka was in on goal, and took a dive as Given came out to him, watching the game in realtime, i was expecting the ref to call a penalty, he didnt (correctly), but no one is saying how spot on the ref was for those calls. "At the end of the day" (sorry Roy Keane), anyone who ever played a game of football, be it "three and in", or in the quarter finals of the world cup, will always have had one of those sneaky bounce of the balls to the hand that they got away with. Maybe even you did yourself Dec? Maybe Robbie Keane did? Did yiz run after the Ref pointing it out to him?

I was gutted after the game, but the Joe Duffy mob will have something else to react against next week, and life will go on.

C'mon the bit of red

Declan Burke said...

Fair comment, Higgs - I did it (at least twice that I can remember) myself in my playing days, and no, I didn't run to the ref pointing it out to him.

I think, given the shit state of the country right now, people just didn't want to let go of something good - the performance was top class - and the hope for something better at some point in the future. The calls for a replay were embarrassing, but understandable, I think.

Go on the Rovers ...

Cheers, Dec