Genoa, Italy, June 1990. An utterly forgettable game of football at that summer’s World Cup is completely overshadowed by an occurance which merits accreditation as surely the most dramatic Irish sporting moment of all time. A nation did indeed hold its breath as David O’Leary of Arsenal blasted Ireland into the last eight of the World Cup.
It is not being fanciful to suggest that moment changed the lives of Irish people forever thereafter. Children were christened David, Genoa became a must-see destination, ‘Get outta my way ya dozy bol***’ was anointed as the official greeting for anybody being an ass on the roads and Roddy Doyle got a smash hit movie out of it.
An O’Byrne Cup encounter in mid January must surely look like a strange bedfellow for that historic day but the heroics of Pat Bonner and David O’Leary came back to mind the other night when Laois overcame Kildare on spot kicks to earn an early season joust with Dublin.
O’Moore County manager Billy Sheehan, despite his side’s success in the shootout, is not a fan of the method to decide GAA matches. “To be honest with you, I don’t think it’s a skill in the game. I’d rather if people took frees off their hands,” said Sheehan. It can be assumed the former Kerry and Laois forward was referencing the occasion some years back that 45 metre kicks were used to decide games in the pre-season competitions that finish level at the end of normal time.
I actually think the penalties are a better way, if that’s the route the GAA want to go. As in, finishing games on the day rather than utilising replays. That in itself is actually quite surprising given the financial windfall which tended to accrue from same. Having said the above, they’re probably not an ideal situation, but it certainly would add to the excitement.
If only from the point of view of fairness there’s surely more chance of players scoring a penalty then a long range free. Anyway, whatever about concluding the pre-season games on the day, this corner would consider it unreasonably unfair for a team to have their season’s work decided in such a lottery of a way.
As for the football itself, Kildare must be wondering why they didn’t appoint Glenn Ryan years ago. That might seem strange given that they didn’t actually get the desired result.
However, the finest centre back of his era is seen as a revered figure – and rightly so – among devotees of the Lilywhites. If there’s anybody capable of inspiring them and getting more out of them, it is indeed the Round Towers clubman. They could genuinely be dark horses for a run late into the season.
Sheehan, for his part, could quite conceivably improve the standing as well. He has assembled a rather impressive looking backroom lineup and, as with most of the other counties in Leinster will be striving to narrow the gap on the blue runaway train.