Thursday, October 13, 2005

It's Official...

...God hates me. I would react by not believing in Him but then I was saying the Hail Mary with a far too solemn conviction in the final minutes of yesterday's disgusting 0-0 tie between Ireland and Switzerland. God surely heard my prayer, and that of the millions of others in the Irish diaspora, but decided, yet again, that more suffering would be good for the Mick constitution. Haven't we had enough suffering, O Lord??? What are we, the Job of nations? Elizabethan transplantation of Scots to the North? Check. Cromwell slaughters Irish and sends those remaining to be enslaved in the Carribean? Check. Defeat to King of William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne? Check. Potato famine? Check. Execution of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Uprising? Check. The Troubles? Check. Bob Geldof's verbal incontinence? Check. Denied by the Swiss in both 2003 and 2005, preventing entry to both Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006? Check, Check, Check!!!

Yes I have a nemesis, and it is the Swiss. Everyone hates a neutral. Damn equivocating fence sitters. Sure, they're the "nice" Germans who stayed out of the war but then suddenly found themselves sitting on top of a ton of impressionist art and piles of bullion assigned to anonymous Swiss bank numerals. Oops, where did that come from? I don't understand how it can be consistent to stay out of the UN, EU, NATO etc. yet hold membership in UEFA and FIFA. I hope they choke themselves on Toblerone and Swatches before the playoffs. That makes no sense but I'm enraged.

Of course the Irish have no one to blame but themselves for not putting away teams like Israel when they had the chance. Standing out in my mind is the last-minute equalizer by the Chosen People in Tel Aviv (actually scored by an Arab), a momentary lapse making all the difference in the final standings. Group Four ended up being insanely tight, with draws in 11 of the 12 matches between the top four teams. The one exception: Ireland's loss to the French. Despite matching the French last month in Dublin, a sublimely freakish Thierry Henry strike from outside of the box was enough to leave the Irish needing to win their last two games. This is never a good position to be in, especially for a team lacking the killer instinct required to put away timely goals and hold leads. Only a penalty save by Shay Given in Cyprus kept us alive, giving the Hibernians a chance to make amends for the loss to the French with a win over the Swiss. Throw in injuries to talismen Damien Duff and Roy Keane for yesterday's game and it was a recipe for disappointment. Despite all of this there was a belief that a team improved from the side tying the Germans and losing to the Spanish only in penalties in the Round of 16 in Korea could surely surmount the Swiss, especially in the fortress of Lansdowne Road. But it wasn't to be. Wave upon wave of crosses failed to connect, making me feel sicker with each passing moment.

With the Greeks carrying Euro 2004 there is a mounting belief that anyone can take the World Cup with the right management, rock solid defending, strong set-pieces and lucky goals. But it won't be the lads in green. This is a bitter blow, a consignment to football exile, taking the relish out of the greatest sporting event to come around only every four years. What will I be reduced to next, cheering for the English?

Oh Lord, why hast thou forsaken me???


At 6:44 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Marvelous post, Murphy. The great thing about soccer---oops, football-- is the geo-political ties. Of course, it is also the worst thing about soccer, but you get my drift. Personally, I think all of the world's problems should be solved on the pitch, ice, gridiron, court, etc. etc. Disputed claims over Kashmir? India & Pakistan play for it. Cricket, obviously. The U.S. wants to get ride of Castro? Nine innings, Cubans versus Americans. Winner takes all. China wants Taiwan? Ping pong, best of five. Doesn't this seem way more sensible than killing people?

Man, I may have just stumbled onto something here. I should run for office.


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