Friday, October 26, 2007


As I remarked to my friend, Pat,
Too rarely does it happen that
Such a massive demi-God
Appears upon the Lansdowne sod.
For giant figures show disdain
For sampling our notorious rain,
Preferring, in these jet-set times,
To ply their trade in sunny climes.

And so, when Ireland played Brazil,
It gave me an enormous thrill
To watch this icon show his fresh
And eager talents in the flesh.
The very fact that he turned up –
This hero of the last World Cup –
Transformed a great night into one
That could not be improved upon.

And last night, he was at this best
And left the Irish crowd impressed,
As, from the very outset, he
Controlled things with authority,
And covered every blade of grass,
And never gave a wayward pass,
Displaying, once again, his sheer
Brilliance as in South Korea.

He did not tire towards the end,
As other, younger figures tend,
But kept up the relentless pace,
Retaining at all times such grace.
His reading of the game was such
That no-one caught the eye as much.
Not afraid to grasp the thistle,
Though always playing to the whistle.

Yes, Anders Frisk must surely be,
As my friend Pat remarked to me,
The greatest ref this world has seen, a
Hairier Pierre Collina.
And Irish fans still dwell upon
Those pennos given in Suwon –
A weak ref would not take the risk.
Undaunted though was Anders Frisk.
Ireland 0 Brazil 0

Kilbane Out-Brazilians the Brazilians

Ronaldo, Kaka, Ronaldinho,
Roberto Carlos and Juninho
Huffed and puffed but could not score,
Well-marshalled by our tight back four.

And each was proved less skilful than
The marvellous Zinedine Kilbane.
Ireland 0 Brazil 0

No Grounds For Complaint

From Bertie Bowl to Fransdowne Road,
The journey’s long and winding.
But Bertie has his word bestowed,
And, as we know, that’s binding.

They say he’s pledged in days of yore,
And then had to withdraw it,
Like last time and the time before,
And then the time before it.

But this time everything has changed
It really is uncanny.
The building work has been arranged,
He swears it on his granny.

While construction’s underway,
The DART won’t be affected,
So overcrowding and delay
Will not be unexpected.

Mary must have deigned to give
Her blessing ‘pon the project.
PD voters mustn’t live
Around this massive object.

Will Bertie’s statue stand outside
This marvellous erection?
Will its completion coincide
With Ireland’s next election?

Oh, stay my lips and hush my tongue!
Such thoughts are reprehensible.
Insinuations have been flung,
Unjust and indefensible.

Bertie wouldn’t tell us lies,
There’s no grounds for suspicions.
Why must we always criticise
Our selfless politicians?

Duffer’s Goal Against Canada

He got the ball outside his box
With countenance intense.
Like Maradonna with blond locks,
He charged at the defence.

The ball seemed tethered to his lace
As onwards he cavorted,
And every scared Canadian face
Did seem a mite contorted.

Past the halfway line he ran,
With narrow tunnel vision,
Defenders almost to a man
Were filled with indecision.

And then, as he approached the goal,
At last they came to meet him.
But with his subtle close control,
They simply could not beat him.

A subtle touch and he was through,
The goalie tried to block it,
But there was little he could do,
It went in like a rocket.

The Mounties always get their man,
That may be true enough.
For mostly they stuck to that plan,
But they could not catch Duff.
Ireland 2 Canada 0

Have You Seen Dave Connolly, Brian [Standing in the Shadows]?

‘Twas Ruby Tuesday in the rain, the game was quite a belter,
Though sitting out there all exposed, I shouted “Gimme Shelter.”
The Last Time that we played the Turks, they beat us fair and square,
And my Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown happened when we went out there.

The game was quite a good one, Ireland did Not Fade Away,
Though at the end, those Tumbling Dice all landed Ireland’s way.
We were nearly Out of Time, when up stepped Richard Dunne,
Who’d Come On just before when Turkey thought they had it won.

Up till then, they’d beaten us, we watched As Tears went By,
Which goes to prove that I am just a stupid Fool To Cry,
Time was far from On our Side, till Dickie took his bow,
And then the referee blew up, saying “Its All Over Now.”

Don’t Start Me Up ‘bout our defence, we’ve problems at the back,
Although ‘twas just a friendly, and I’m loathe to Paint It Black,
I Can’t Get No Satisfaction from the draw, though goodness knows,
You Can’t Always Get What You Wanna, I suppose.
Ireland 2 Turkey 2 on the same day the Rolling Stones were in town

I Had a Dream...

Ireland versus Switzerland, the match was very tight,
Though Shay in goal had hardly had a shot to save all night.
Finnan, Breen and Cunningham, the mighty John O’Shea
Had worked extremely hard to keep the Swiss attack at bay.

Then suddenly from out the tunnel charged a herd of cattle.
With ringing bells they seemed intent on joining in the battle.
They stampeded straight at our defence who didn’t stand a chance,
Obviously unprepared for such a circumstance.

Well, they chased them and they caught them and they squashed them in the dirt,
They trampled with their flailing hooves – I’m sure it must have hurt,
They mashed them and they bashed them and they ground them in the mud,
Till our defence consisted of a mass of flesh and blood.

The ref got out the rulebook but was quite uncertain which
Chapter dealt with herds of cattle charging on the pitch.
The Swiss could not believe their luck and waltzed right through to score,
Which manifestly shows the dangers of a flat back four.

The Rime of the Ancient Optimist

The Matterhorn stands high above the Bernese Oberland,
Glistening escarpments proudly fashioned by God’s hand.
High up in the stratosphere the gusting currents wail,
But it is not as high as that great mountain we will scale.

In spring from suffocating snow unfurls the edelweiss,
Bringing warmth and colour to a landscape clothed in ice.
Its arrival tells the cowering world that life will soon begin,
But much more blooming marvellous would be an Ireland win.

The cows above the tree line are all troubled by the hex,
Of wearing massive clanking bells around their fly-strewn necks.
The thin, clear air reverberates with clonking bells galore,
But all the bells of Ireland will ring out if Ireland score.

The lakes within the cantons are all crystal clear and blue,
Neuchatel, Geneva and Luzern and Glarus too,
Shining ‘neath the woods and snow, contrasting green and white,
But none will be as blue as all the Swiss on Saturday night.

The arrow pierced the apple perched on Wilhelm Tell’s son’s head.
He mustn’t care for apples much, the puzzled peasants said.
But Keano is the Wilhelm Tell of Ireland’s rebel nation,
And hopefully we’ll see again that archer celebration.

Tributes to Swiss chocolate run to many reams of print,
Some will swear by Suchard, whereas others go for Lindt,
And Toblerone is loved by all, though I must tell you this,
There’s none will be as sweet as Irish vict’ry ‘gainst the Swiss

Switzerland 2 Ireland 0

Miscarriage of Justice

Another awards ceremony,
Tuxedos and trite laughter.
The compere told us that the News
Would follow shortly after.

“Personality of the Year.”
[I think that was the title]
“And here to read the nominees…”
My God! It’s Harvey Keitel!

Harvey strolled up to the mike
And told a funny story.
The camera panned in on the smiles
Of Fat Spice and Hugh Laurie.

“The nominees,” said Harvey, as
The laughter faded slowly,
“Are an actress from Eastenders and
A brilliant Irish goalie.”

Cue a little bit of film,
The music from Eastenders,
Dot Cotton in her headscarf
Fighting off some moneylenders.

Cue a bit of football film,
The Irish national anthem,
Chris Eubank saying Shay Given is
“Formidable and handthome.”

Harvey tore the envelope and
Pulled the card out quickly,
But suddenly his pallor went
All vomit-green and sickly.

“Dot Cotton,” he announced at last,
And everyone grew restless,
Except for Dot who blithely bounced
Around, so lithe and chestless.

The audience smiled nervously,
Assuming he was jesting,
But very quickly it became
More serious protesting.

Andrea Corr began the chant
[She thought the judging rotten.]
She jumped upon a table, crying
“For Given, not for Cotton!”

Stephen Carr

Few things in life inspire me, or cause my heart to sing,
But one of them is seeing Carr go motoring down the wing.
He’s got a great little engine, for he’s always on the go,
His bodywork’s superb [at least my missus tells me so]
Exhausted by the end, he always does more than required,
So obviously, apres match, he’s often choked and tyred.
He’s smaller than Van Nistlerooy, which isn’t a surprise,
[And as for Lorry Sanchez, well, he’s nearly twice the size]
No matter what the gear he’s in, he always looks so classy,
Although, to be quite honest, I’ve not checked beneath the chassis.

The Aussies are Coming

The Aussies are coming to Lansdowne tonight,
Meself and the young lad are going,
Which, in itself, is a reason that we
Won’t put on a very good showing.

The Aussies are coming to Lansdowne tonight,
With two who play for Glasgow Rangers.
We aren’t allowed boo, so we’ll cheer them instead,
And make some new friends out of strangers.

The Aussies are coming to Lansdowne tonight,
The famous, improved Socceroos,
And rumour is rife, for an hour and a half,
They’ll manage to stay off the booze.

The Aussies are coming to Lansdowne tonight,
I don’t mean those rugby impostors.
Brian’s prepared well, and has a game plan-
Deliver a crateful of Fosters.

The Aussies are coming to Lansdowne tonight,
Scwartzer, Viduka and Kewell,
Though doubtless the latter will not have improved
Since he joined up with Heskey at ‘Pewell.

The Aussies are coming to Lansdowne tonight,
We’ll show them a lot of respect,
For the last time they played in these islands, of course,
Poor En-ger-land’s chances were wrecked.

The Aussies are coming to Lansdowne tonight,
What cards will Dame Providence deal us?
But we shouldn’t go gambling or take any risks,
We’d better all lock up our Sheilas.

The Aussies are coming to Lansdowne tonight,
Meself and the young lad are going,
We’re wearing our t-shirts, so come half past eight,
Its bound to be raining or snowing.
Ireland 3 Australia 0

Apologies to all Aussies

Whose was the sparkling idea
At a packed Lansdowne Road last night?
The motives were vague and unclear,
The action offensive and trite.

We have an immense reputation
For welcoming fans from abroad.
Their anthems receive an ovation,
Their excesses are largely ignored.

So why the intense provocation?
Why should we be so insulting?
Twas only through chance situation
That violence wasn’t resulting.

The Aussies are normally cheerful,
Ebullient, with great bonhomie,
But prior to the match they were tearful,
And well they had reason to be.

The music pre-match was quite harmless,
We bore it with scarcely a frown,
But it changed to offensive and charmless,
When they played “Tie Me Kangaroo Down.”

Ireland 3 Australia 0

The Raven

(with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe)

[It is October 2002, the day after Ireland’s disastrous home defeat to the Swiss, which renders Ireland’s qualification for the European Championships well nigh impossible.]
Once upon a midnight bloody,
Lounged McCarthy in his study,
Pondering the harsh, unholy
Portents of the night before.
Wounded deep by Hakan Yakin,
Press suggesting he was lackin’,
Conspiring to demand his sackin’,
This knave let out a hollow roar.
They might well demand his sacking,
Quoth McCarthy, “One game more!”

As he lolled upon his cushions,
Contemplating Swiss and Russians,
Thoughts of Saipan filtered brusquely,
Conjured up from days of yore.
Through the murky mists came hobblin’,
With a football madly bobblin’,
A vision of the Mayfield goblin
Striding through that hotel door.
Grinning madly, that foul goblin
Smiled and whispered, “Never more!”

As he dozed, consumed and troubled,
Dreadfully the vision doubled,
And another wizened figure
Strode triumphant ‘cross the floor.
To the poor, untutored layman,
Pranced a single-minded Shaman,
‘Twas the scheming, whistling Eamonn
Dunphy, ballpoint to the fore.
Then that mystic, wrinkled Eamonn
Dunphy whispered, “Never more!”

Assaulted by this smirking twosome,
With their accents stark and gruesome,
McCarthy woke with brow perspiring,
Beads of sweat through every pore.
And, as he ceased his nervous napping,
He thought he heard a tiny rapping
Through the night come tap-tap-tapping,
Hard upon his study door.
“Who on earth is tap-tap-tapping?”
Angrily did he implore.

Like a most disgruntled rhino,
Swept he swiftly o’er the lino,
And with scarce concealed impatience,
Grasped the handle of the door.
Then this sad and lonely figure
Flung the door ajar with vigour,
And though he thought he heard a snigger,
Deep black night was all he saw.
“Did I really hear a snigger?”
Quoth McCarthy, nothing more.

Worried now, he hesitated,
Thwarted by his ghosts, frustrated,
Till at last, his patience snapping,
Violently he slammed the door.
But as the clock resumed tick-tocking,
Fancied he, he heard a knocking,
Barely heard and faintly mocking,
Mocking as McCarthy swore.
“Who is this so faintly mocking?”
Came a small voice, “Never more!”

“This is not imagination!”
Cried McCarthy with frustration,
“Someone close is out there standing
Hard upon my study door.”
Thus the bould McCarthy reckoned,
As he paused for just one second,
Till once more the small voice beckoned
From the night’s Plutonian shore.
Softly now the small voice beckoned,
Softly chiding, “Never more!”

McCarthy wrenched the door with passion
In a most ungodly fashion,
The pulse within his temple throbbing,
Senses shaken to the core.
And, as he scratched his chin unshaven,
Through the door there stepped a craven,
Hollow-eyed, ungodly raven,
With a most distinctive caw.
Cackled this ungodly raven
Quite distinctly, “Never more!”

Up on Charlton’s bust it fluttered,
As McCarthy darkly muttered,
Uttered oaths not heard in heaven
Nor upon Nirvana’s shore.
Showing scant regard for fleeing,
There it perched with eyes unseeing,
Staring at the human being,
Standing there with slackened jaw.
Sneering at the human being,
As it murmured, “Never more!”

McCarthy stared at this black vision,
Bereft of logic and decision,
Something in the bird’s demeanour
Stuck fast in his stubborn craw.
The accent that foul bird had uttered,
As it upwardly had fluttered,
Was surely that which Cork men uttered,
According to the rebel lore.
[McCarthy blanched when Cork men muttered]
Quoth the raven, “Never more!”

“Get thee hence, ungodly creature!”
Cried McCarthy like a preacher
Exorcising demons in a
Tableau from a holy war.
But the raven perched there tightly,
Three days stubble quite unsightly,
Cruciate ligaments flexing lightly,
Face towards the study door.
McCarthy’s face was flushing brightly.
Quoth the raven, “Never more!”

“Are these the only words you’re able
To impart, black bird of fable?
Have you learned them parrot-fashion
From a most obtuse macaw?
Seest thou not, that I wish that you
Leave my Big Jack Charlton statue?
Go now! Quit my habitat, you
Are not welcome, that’s for sure.
Please, now, leave my habitat, you!”
Quoth the raven, “Never more!”

The raven’s eyes burned with cold fire.
“What,” McCarthy did enquire,
Is the reason for your rapping,
Tapping on my study door?
I have work that needs attending,
Faxes urgently need sending,
A coach’s work is never-ending,
Especially when results are poor.
The Swiss made fun of our defending.”
Quoth the raven, “Never more!”

Then McCarthy saw this raven
Was a harbinger, a craven
Doom-strewn messenger of fortune,
Sent to speak eternal law.
Round the study blind he lumbered,
Ireland’s future unencumbered,
For his days were shortly numbered,
Resignation lay in store.
He realised his days were numbered,
As the bird spoke, “Never more!”

To this day, it sits besmirching
Charlton’s bust, ungainly perching,
In McCarthy’s study blithely,
Still of eye and sharp of claw.
Despite the fire, the room grows colder,
Still it sits there, darker, bolder,
Two big chips upon each shoulder,
Staring blindly at the door.
Will McCarthy move that boulder?
Cries the raven, “Never more!”

Basel Faulty

Disappointed, not distraught,
We’re not as good as we had thought.
Inflated dreams conspired to dazzle
Irish eyes that went to Basel.
Defence as holey as Swiss cheese,
There’s no point learning Portuguese.
Keane and Duffer barely figured,
Frei and Chapuisat both sniggered,
Midfield barely posed a threat,
Performances we may forget,
Frightened of the Swiss attackin’,
Gugelhopfed by Hakan Yakin.
When Frei poached their second goal
We all looked for a Heidi hole.
Put it bluntly, we were dismal,
Deserved to lose and quite abysmal,
Never ever looked like scoring,
Build ups tedious and boring,
No wonder that the Irish crowd
Barely spoke a word out loud,
Overrun by reds and whites
And cowbells ringing for the Schweiz.
Blame it on McCarthy, sure,
But don’t pretend that we weren’t poor.

So, disappointment by the Rhein,
But not as bad as Liechtenstein.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Return to the Park

When the lads returned home from Korea,
We sung out their names loud and clear –
Staunton and Keane,
Duff, Harte and Breen,
Kinsella and McAteer.

But we must have been out on the beer-o,
For our manners were all shot to zero.
Kilbane was ignored
Didn’t get his reward,
You might say he’s an unsung hero.

In Praise of “Donkeys” – A Rant

I thought that it was very rude,
The day that Kev Kilbane got booed.
He may not have Duff’s speed or grace,
Nor is he quite as fair of face,
But one thing cannot be denied –
When wearing green, he’s always tried.

Gary Breen gets fierce abuse
From those who say that he’s no use.
Positionally, he’s quite suspect,
In terms of speed, he’s often wrecked.
But in the cauldron of Japan,
Bould Gary was your only man.

And Doherty and Connolly
Are criticised most constantly.
Beside the likes of Keane and Duff,
Perhaps they are not good enough,
But they would beg and swallow dirt
To pull on Ireland’s famous shirt.

Your game can sometimes fall apart,
As in Japan with Ian Harte,
Who got the most enormous flak
For his mistakes while at left back.
A lesser man might walk away,
But Ian always wants to play.

It’s fashionable today to jeer
The likes of Jason McAteer.
Such a pre-pubescent boy
For daring to provoke our Roy.
But Jason, thank you very much
For those two goals against the Dutch.

Damien Duff and Robbie Keane
Are rightly heroes of the green.
They have the talent and the skill
To turn a football game at will.
But should we really damn the rest,
Who try as hard, but aren’t as blessed.

There are players who don’t take the mickey,
Act the goat, or pull a sickie.
Forgive the pun, but always keen
To join the squad and wear the green,
And walk through hell and swallow crap
To gain an international cap.

And then there’s others I won’t name,
Who play the club or country game,
For whom an international match
Intrudes upon their league club’s patch.
And these true “heroes” of our nation
Receive our strongest adulation.

Suwon City

Gaizka Mendieta,
Outside his home in Spain,
Was writing a long letter
To his sweetheart, Elaine.

At the time, Shay Given,
In Spain on holidays,
In a hired car was driven
By Claude, a friend of Shay’s.

Now Claude and Shay were driving
Around and round and round,
No nearer to arriving,
Destination still unfound.

They stopped chez Mendieta,
The window open wide,
And hailed the blond goal-getter,
Sitting there outside.

Mendieta listened,
Looked long and hard at Shay,
Then with a smile that glistened,
He sent him the wrong way.

Robbie Keane’s Last Minute Penalty Against Spain

While we were the fact digesting,
And the Spanish were protesting,
Straight up to the ball ran Keano,
With an almost boyish bound.
Were the nerve ends taut and fraying,
While the Spanish were delaying?
Or did he think that he was playing
Just another kick-around?

Did he realise the massive
Moment, as he watched impassive?
Did the niggly doubts start crawling
Through the portals of his brain?
Was he, as he seemed, uncaring
‘Bout the burden he was bearing,
As he waited, chewing, staring
At the angry men of Spain?

Who, in Ireland, at that moment,
With emotions churned in foment,
Would have volunteered to try
To equalise the Spanish goal?
With the moments slowly dying,
Who’d have faced it, fate-defying,
While all those around were shying
From the challenge of the soul?

Hail the boy that knows no jitters,
While the old man shakes and witters!
Glory to the New World where
The wrinkled angel fears to tread!
Confidently running, scoring,
Head upturned and both arms soaring,
With the adulation pouring
Down upon his uncrowned head.

The Ballad of Quinn and Hierro

Fernando Hierro had but one small wish,
A little reward for his labours.
He yearned for his very own satellite dish,
Despite the strong views of his neighbours.

But there was a bye-law that people respected,
And which he’d been warned not to flout –
No problem with aerials being erected,
But satellite dishes were out.

Fernando, however, was keen on his sport,
And community-wise, kept aloof,
And so he dismissed what his neighbours all thought,
And fixed up a dish to his roof.

Niall Quinn, as it happened, was honorary chairman,
Of the local residential committee,
And he called on Hierro and said, “It’s not fair, man,
Yon satellite dish isn’t pretty.”

Hierro’s response was dismissive and fleeting,
And he sent the tall striker a-packing.
So Niall, enraged, called an emergency meeting,
To look for the residents’ backing.

Well, they gave him their blessing to do what he could
To get the tough Spaniard’s compliance.
Provided ‘twas legal, they well understood
The need to face down his defiance.

Now, Niall had some chickens [an old boyhood dream],
For he fancied himself as a farmer,
And cunningly now he did work out a scheme
Where they became part of his armour.

Hierro’s back garden adjoined that of Niall,
And the floral display was impressive,
Orchids and dahlias and sweet camomile,
So much it was almost excessive.

So Niall hung on till the Spaniard went out,
And then he ran down to his coop,
And he summonsed his chickens with one cheery shout,
And they gathered around in a group.

He quickly dispensed several urgent instructions,
And thanked them for co-operating.
He knew that their actions might cause nasty ructions,
And possibly trouble lay waiting.

And when he had finished, he lifted them gently,
And placed them all over the fence,
Ran up to his bedroom and peered out intently,
His face ever-watchful and tense.

The chickens, though, followed their master’s request,
And made for the colourful beds,
And, clucking away with encouraging zest,
They pecked all the flowers to shreds.

Well, Fernando returned in the late afternoon,
And his blood pressure instantly doubled.
All over his garden, bright flowers were strewn,
While chickens walked o’er them untroubled.

He let forth a yell, and he ran back outside,
And he banged on the Mighty Quinn’s door.
As Niall came down, he, with innocence, cried,
“What on earth is that hammering for?”

As he threw the door open, Hierro let loose,
And Quinn’s bright expression did vanish.
In turn, he enquired, why the florid abuse?
He’d never been taught rustic Spanish.

Hierro then dragged him around to the back,
Where Quinner feigned innocent wonder.
The Spaniard was bulling, his temper was black
And he wore an expression like thunder.

Niall announced that he wasn’t surprised
At the chickens’ despicable actions.
Perhaps poor Hierro had not realised
They hated these novel distractions.

These chickens he tended, though docile and few,
Could suddenly turn pretty vicious,
The reason for which, as all poultry men knew,
Was the presence of satellite dishes.

Perhaps ‘twas the colour, perhaps ‘twas the shape,
That caused certain fowl aggravation,
But the salient fact that he couldn’t escape,
Was - they flipped o’er a dish installation.

Well, Hierro looked sideways at Quinn for a while,
Sceptically mulling and thinking,
And then his bronzed face creased into a great smile,
And one of his eyes started winking.

“You’re very inventive, you know, Senor Quinn.
I admire the way you’ve contested.
You played most unfairly, but I’ll let you win,
I’ll take down the dish as requested.

I’ll purchase an aerial, throw in the towel,
And thank God you don’t own any cattle!”
And thus, though Hierro quite loudly cried, “Fowl!”
‘Twas Quinn won the aerial battle.

The Submarine Bar

The Submarine Bar is up for sale,
A snip at fifteen million.
The price would make the nerve ends quail
For many a Joe or Gillian.

Located out in Walkinstown,
The place is often swaying,
For that is where the craic goes down,
Whenever Ireland’s playing.

The three-toned hats are on display,
Like something from the Tweenies,
The oul’ wans sing Olé Olé,
And sip their dry martinis.

All faces cricked up in the air
To watch the television,
They tear their hair out in despair
At every bad decision.

And if it’s an important match,
Then RTE comes calling,
Trying very hard to catch
The sense that it’s enthralling.

The lads all brandish pints of beer,
And spill slops on their bellies,
And if we score, they give a cheer
And shout out at the tellies.

The pub has come to symbolise
The modern day supporter,
Who watches games through square-shaped eyes
While lowering the porter.

He’s Irish as his pint of stout,
He roars on Ireland’s goals,
But when the weekend comes, he’ll shout
For Larsson, Giggs and Scholes.

For football’s best when it is viewed
On thirty six inch screen.
The atmosphere’s far better, dude,
Down in the Submarine.


[A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment.]

In Ibarak’ did Ollie Kahn
A stately Berlin wall decree,
Where Ramelow, inspired, ran
The back four with Dietmar Hamann,
To try and clinch Group E.
And thus they built a wall of clay
To keep the Irish hordes away.
And Oliver in majesty surveyed
The battling ramparts from his stately throne,
And though his gallant soldiers were afraid,
The Irish could not topple German stone.
But oh! When all seemed lost a breach appeared,
And Kahn did suffer bitter acrid loss,
For as the weary battle’s twilight neared,
‘Twas just as strained Teutonic hearts had feared,
As mighty Quinn arose to meet the cross.
And in this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
The whole Hibernian nation eschewed breathing,
And as the ball dropped marvellously to Keane,
That proud and tireless warrior in the green,
Stiff-legged smacked he past Kahn’s despairing dive,
To keep the Irish World Cup dream alive.

Ireland vs. Cameroon 2002

And so in the Niigata heat,
We uttered forth a mournful song.
The rhythm of the bodhran beat
Still echoed passionate and strong,
But hearts were heavy to a man
O’er what had happened in Saipan.

The men in green thus took the pitch,
Though all the chatter was about
A man at home in England, which
Increased our worrying self doubt,
Insulting men who chose to stay
And fight for us with feet of clay.

And lo! Those doubts appeared well-founded.
The Cameroon with skill and strength
Upon the Irish rearguard pounded,
Occupying them at length.
Desp’rate, they en masse defended,
Optimism now suspended.

Given played a hero’s role
To keep the Cameroon at bay,
But could do nothing ‘bout the goal
That caused the Irish ranks dismay.
And as Mbomo celebrated,
Ireland’s World Cup hopes deflated.

And when the second half began,
The Africans got in their stride,
And Geremi soon lost his man,
But blazed the sitter inches wide.
Under pressure. One behind.
Saipan heavy on our mind.

But then we got a slice of luck,
As Song essayed to clear a threat,
And Mattie Holland gleeful struck
Into the corner of the net.
And we all danced with sheer relief,
Regaining some small self-belief.

Then Ireland, heady, pinned them back
And, nervous apprehension lost,
They piled forward in attack,
Got it down the wings and crossed.
But Cameroon, all back en masse,
Would not allow the Irish pass.

And Finnan, raging down the right,
And Duffer, twisting inside out,
Put up a most courageous fight
And turned this football match about.
And Alioum gave up the ghost,
But Robbie’s screamer struck the post.

And so we earned a point apiece,
And Ireland were well satisfied,
For hopefully the talk would cease
Of how we were a one-man side,
For, playing boldly as a team,
We’d kept alive the World Cup dream.


12.9 on the Richter Scale,
The impact was terrific,
A mushroom cloud, a smoky trail
Out in the North Pacific.
The bitter ash blocked out the light
On that small island nation,
A photo from a satellite
Displayed the devastation.
Seismologists re-checked their dials,
As hist’ry was created.
Around the world, ten thousand miles,
The shock reverberated.
And many, many miles away
Tectonic plates did shift,
Creating on Hiberniay,
A most divisive rift.
This geological event
Divided one proud nation,
Villages and towns were rent
In violent condemnation.
The McCarthy Fault, it has been named.
Some called it after Keane.
What God has split, the bishops claimed,
No man may stand between.

Gunfight at the Not Very OK Corral

He was handsome, he was fearless, he was noble, he was tall,
By all accounts, he was the biggest cowboy of them all.
As he rode out upon his horse, so loved and so respected,
The priests and GAA men all bowed down and genuflected.

For Bertie was a leader who was blessed with strength and vision
And never needed prompting to appear on television.
He had a dream, like all great men, to have a huge erection
That could be seen for miles around in Abbotstown’s direction.

Now in the land where Bertie ruled, there lived an evil troupe,
A freeloading gang of rustlers, an insane and reckless group,
People hid in fear and dread whenever they rode by,
And warned their children to beware the loathsome FAI.

Bernard was their leader and he had a heart of stone
And he desired to raise a big erection of his own.
And though there was much muttering from Bernard’s hired hands,
They backed him to the hilt when he presented his demands.

Now Bertie listened carefully, but after some reflection,
Decided he could not support another man’s erection.
He emptied out his saddlebags upon the barroom floor,
“There’s gold for all!” he shouted, “And I’ll see that you get more!”

As Bertie went out in the street, there came a mighty roar
As all the varmints dived upon the gold dust on the floor.
As Bernard pulled his 45 and told them to desist,
Miles and Brendan drew their guns and neither bullet missed.

Bernard, he was buried with two bullets in his chest,
And so his own erection plans were also laid to rest,
No one sighed, no widow cried, no chapel bell was tolled,
For everyone had been entranced by thoughts of Bertie’s gold.

Bertie was euphoric and he seemed to grow in stature,
Possessing all the qualities of Major, Blair and Thatcher.
The FAI were all on board, there could be no deflection
Away from his great personal aim – the Abbotstown erection.

But behind this powerful leader, lay a shadow tall and wide,
Who aimed a high and mighty kick at Bertie’s big backside.
“I’ve checked the books,” sweet Mary said, “and after my inspection,
I’m sorry but we can’t afford your fatuous erection.”

Now Bertie was a mite afraid of Mary’s sensual charms,
Though he had spent some lonely nights lost in her loving arms,
And so he thought it prudent to consult his loyal minion,
So that he might better get another man’s opinion.

“The gold’s run out,” oul’ Charlie said, “The miners can’t find any.
What good is an erection if you cannot spend a penny?”
When Bertie heard these fateful words, his vision fell apart,
The price, some said, of saddling up the horse behind the cart.

When Miles and Brendan heard the news, they both were sorely vexed,
And spluttered in their whiskey as they planned what happened next,
They knew that they could not stand up to Bertie in a fight,
Although they felt that they had both been dropped into the shite.

Now Bertie was a bit harassed, although he was no fool,
And standing in the street, he challenged Brendan to a duel.
Brendan staggered out of the Incompetence Saloon,
As Milo, on the piano, played a melancholy tune.

Brendan demanded all the gold, but Bertie said he’d none,
Brendan smiled nervously at Bertie’s polished gun.
Inside the Sheriff’s office, Sheriff Croker squirmed with glee,
And, with a glad expression, rubbed his hands expectantly………..

Confessions of a Lily Liver

McAteer scored,
And, all alone at home, I roared,
As the ten men went ahead against the Dutch.
Every game I fear the worst,
Expect the bubble soon to burst,
And, for me, this was a little bit too much.

Now, my heavy, rhythmic heart
Had been a-pounding from the start,
But now, with that great goal, it started racing.
Though we had a goal in hand,
There was no way I could stand
The half an hour or so that we were facing.

So I nimbly set the tape,
And made a cowardly escape
Out onto the bare, deserted street.
And I paced the road alone,
With knuckles chewed down to the bone,
And not a single person did I meet.

Round and round the block I walked,
As each second was uncorked,
And I calculated minutes left to play.
And when full time had been reached,
From nearby houses people screeched,
And then I knew the match had gone our way.

My wife and son and daughter
Claim I’m not a true supporter,
And I’m the one they always throw the book at.
It’s a little bit simplistic
Just to state I’m pessimistic,
But there’s certain games I just can’t bear to look at.

Revenge on the Dutch

Dalymount. A bitter night. October ‘83.
For Ireland fans there could not be a better place to be.
The European Championships had thrown our boys together
With the brilliant Dutchmen, so who cared about the weather?

A minute in the second half and Stapleton was clear.
We stood up on our tiptoes and we braced ourselves to cheer.
He took it round the keeper but he pushed it much too wide,
The Dutch defenders scurried back and Stapo was denied.

If he’d have scored, it would have meant that we were up three-nil,
And even those great Dutchmen would have not climbed up that hill.
But still we had the lead, although the Dutch strove to annul it,
They brought on a new talent by the name of Rudi Gullit.

Rumour was that he was hot, and so it proved to be,
Inspired by this flamboyant lad, the rampant Dutch scored three.
The only consolation on that night of deep despair,
Was the privilege of seeing a performance of such flair.

Gelsenkirchen, ‘88, again we met the Dutch,
We countered them with passion, but that did not count for much.
A mis-hit shot, a spinning ball that crept inside the post,
Once again, frustration was the sense that surfaced most.

‘Twas in Italia ’90 that we sought to end their reign,
But Gullit and his dreadlocks nearly did for us again.
We equalised at last, then tamely settled for a draw,
Carving up the spoils upon that far Sardinian shore.

We beat them in a friendly back in April ’94,
But in the World Cup Finals, they did conquer us once more.
Two silly, basic errors, and they strolled it in the end,
Giving Ireland lessons how to finish and defend.

Anfield in December and a play-off place at stake,
We hoped for some good fortune but we didn’t get a break.
‘Twas really quite one-sided as the Dutch controlled the show,
Convincing Mister Charlton that the time was ripe to go.

World Cup qualifiers for Japan and South Korea,
We scored two early goals from Robbie Keane and McAteer,
But once again, we crumbled when the Dutch chose to attack us,
Scoring twice towards the end, with two tremendous crackers.

And so, ‘twas back to Dalymount, which couldn’t have been fuller,
The stands awash with either a bright green or orange colour.
The Dutch piled on the pressure, but the chances came and went –
Defending as a unit seemed our singular intent.

Then Gary Kelly got sent off and Irish spirits sank,
Surely now the Dutch would hurt us down their left hand flank,
But suddenly a cross came o’er, and Jason thundered in,
Smacking it into the net, to set up Ireland’s win.

Eighteen barren years had passed since Gullit broke our hearts,
Vengeance had not come despite so many hopeful starts.
But finally we did it and we celebrated much
On the day we got our sweet revenge upon the brilliant Dutch.

In Praise of Stewards

The stewards there at Lansdowne Road,
Lined up beneath the stand,
Make sure that all the entrances
Are excellently manned.
Their scope of responsibility
Is frequently expanding,
But, lined up there so helpfully,
They’re very under-standing.

Robbie Keane aged 14

The summer term was over, and the holidays were on,
To earn a bit of money, Robbie worked with Uncle John,
His uncle was a kindly man, a plasterer by trade,
And Robbie was well pleased with all the money that he made.
A clinic was upon the list of houses to be plastered,
And Robbie practised at the trade and shortly had it mastered,
A week they toiled and mixed and screed beneath the burning sun,
Till soon there only was the pebble-dashing to be done.
But time was short and John moved on to start another job,
Leaving Rob instructions and a bonus of ten bob,
And yes, he quickly polished off the doctor’s surgery,
For Uncle John knew well that Robbie finished clinically

Robbie Keane [aged 5]

Miss Barker briskly handed out
The markers and some card.
“We’re going to make some signs about
The litter in the yard.”

The five year olds looked overawed,
At that great task ahead,
Though Robbie Keane looked tired and bored
And picked his nose instead.

The concentration was impassioned
As children started drawing,
And marvellous works of art were fashioned,
Though one child found it boring.

“Why aren’t you drawing, Robbie?” came
The shrill voice of Miss Barker.
“Please miss, I’m really not to blame –
I’ve gone and lost my marker.”

Macedonia Nightmare

There was no need for them to score,
No reason for such boldness.
The header which earned them a draw
Just wrapped our hearts in coldness.
No benefit to them, that goal
That chilled the warmest Gaelic soul.

In Skopje, ‘twas a goal from Quinn
That launched our celebration.
A tight and scrappy one nil win
Ensured our qualification.
Injury time was almost up,
Dreaming of the Euro Cup.

“Four minutes,” screamed the neon sign,
As we howled at the telly.
And then we got some luck divine –
A brilliant save from Kelly.
Into the fifth minute went
The Macedonians, almost spent…

The Spanish ref alas allowed
The corner to be taken.
“Defend! Defend!” we screamed out loud,
Our insides stirred and shaken.
But someone let the full back go,
And thus they struck a tragic blow.

A header we will ne’er forget
Amid such abject wailing,
Crashed into the Irish net
With Alan Kelly flailing.
Our cup of joy was dashed away
With but a second left to play.

Why did the scorer not stay back?
Why did he come up running?
Why did he join his own attack
With fortitude and cunning?
They’d long since fallen off the wall.
A draw would bring them bugger all.

The reason that this sod attacked
Was selfish and gratuitous.
Dreams of glory, though in fact
‘Twas pretty damned fortuitous.
He put his dreams of pers’nal deeds
Before our nation’s urgent needs.

Instead of coming out on top,
We only finished second.
Airline tickets got the chop
And play-off places beckoned.
And Turkey beat us with some ease
To bring a country to it’s knees.

The travel brochures may well say
That Macedonia’s brilliant.
But bitterly, I’ll stay away,
Sulking, but resilient.
Sure, I’ve not been to Holland since
That Wim Kieft header made us wince.

Big Jack’s Farewell Speech

I will arise and go now,
Back to the granite that carved me.
Back to the country that starved me.

Content in the love of a woman,
That clasped a stranger to her breast
And gave him all that she possessed.

See! She stands upon the shore,
Headscarf tight around her cheeks,
And though she now no longer speaks,

All is well and content.
In our eyes there is fond admiration,
A bond between step-child and nation.

Ten years in which a team,
Moulded from clay, finely chiselled,
Even as the grey clouds drizzled,

Soon to pass. And then a day,
Bright as any Eden dawning,
Blinded by the wealth of morning.

Big Jack’s Resignation Speech / Match abandoned

Big Jack's Resignation Speech
We’ve passed a lot of water since my service was first courted,
And you’ve become familiar with the old cloth cap I’ve sported.
Your football team was in a mess – I worked and got it sorted,
And now our style of football round the world has been exported.
In our three major finals, we’ve been wonderfully supported,
Except by one small journalist, whose views are quite distorted
[No wonder he’s so wrinkled with his face always contorted]
But by and large the media with fairness have reported,
And haven’t run with any allegations they’ve purported.
Unfortunately, the bloody Dutch once more our hopes have thwarted,
And travel plans to England will now have to be aborted.
And so, for several reasons which are lengthy and assorted,
To my resignation letter I have finally consorted.
Match abandoned
The ashen-faced young boy,
Holding tight his father’s hand,
Watches hooligans destroy
All the seating in the stand.

As the debris is slung down
With triumphal shouts of hate,
He just stares with puzzled frown
At the tumbling plastic spate.

Every seat that’s rudely hurled
With repulsive racist cries
Makes his innocent young world
Fall away before his eyes.

Camera cut to Graham Kelly
Shouting “Is my hair okay?”
As he moves to go on telly
To deflect the blame away.

Packie Bonner’s Blunder - Orlando 1994

We gazed dumbfounded at the screen,
And with uncomprehending eyes,
Sought desperately to realise
The impact of the goal just seen.

We sought the answer in our stout,
We looked for solace from our pain,
As if bould Arthur could explain
That score from thirty five yards out.

The Dutch were quite a useful side.
No shame to lose to such as them,
For we admired the orange crème,
And thought they would not be denied.

But ‘twas the manner of the goal,
The second one that sealed our fate,
That we could not articulate,
For it defied our very soul.

Packie Bonner, ten feet tall,
The rock behind the green defence,
Reliable and so immense,
Did get his chest behind the ball.

And everybody glanced away
Before the save was made complete,
For Wim Jonk’s drive would never beat
The greatest goalie of the day.

But then, alive, the football eased
Out of his rock-steady hands.
Euphoria in the Netherlands,
As just inside the post it squeezed.

No word of blame was cried aloud,
No plaintive cursing rent the air.
There was no anger anywhere,
As Packie squatted down, head bowed.

No matter that our dream was dead,
No matter that our hopes were slashed,
No matter that the Cup was dashed,
And we were coming home instead.

It mattered more that Packie Bonner,
In stadia both near and far,
Between the posts, beneath the bar,
Had served his country with great honour.

And now, as with a crack of thunder,
His confidence severely battered,
His reputation had been shattered
By one most unbecoming blunder.

And all of Ireland, as one, felt
For Packie in that dreadful second,
As international twilight beckoned,
And cursed the hand that fate had dealt.

Tommy Coyne

Tommy Coyne of Ireland had such problems with his name.
He always seemed quite nervous just before a vital game.
The captains of each football team would chase him everywhere,
Then one of them would hold him out and flip him in the air.

The Elephant, the Giraffe and the Scouser

The sun in the Orlando sky
Beat down with suffocating weight,
And fright’ning power to dehydrate,
Until one’s mouth and throat were dry.
The Mexicans with seeming ease
Had danced around the Irish team
In burning sun and heat extreme
That brought the Irish to their knees.
What folly ‘twas to play the tie
Upon the burning hour of noon,
Within the scorching month of June,
And Ireland’s hopes about to die.
But then the Gaelic fans were cheered,
As Aldo, trim, and clad in white,
To every Irish heart’s delight,
Upon the touchline soft appeared.
So Tommy Coyne then left the fray,
And shook bould Aldridge by the hand,
And sat down wrecked before the stand,
As Aldo itched to join the play.
But lo! A man of mighty girth,
Bespectacled with fingers fat
Came forth to cause a mighty spat
That sent disgust around the earth.
And thus, he held great Aldo’s arm
And warned him off the football field,
And Aldo, livid, had to yield,
But vowed he’d do the Fat Man harm.
Then Charlton rose with finger taut
And jabbed it at the Fat Man’s chest,
Particularly unimpressed
Because his team was one man short.
The elephant and the giraffe
Went head to head quite unrestrained,
As Skinny Man with force maintained
The elephant had made a gaffe.
For fully six whole minutes long,
While Ireland played with but ten men,
The slanging match went on and then
The language got supremely strong,
As Aldo, in deep fury, turned
Upon the hapless bureaucrat
And let a stream of curses that
In days to come a large fine earned.
And finally he joined the fray,
But still he turned and mouthed his worst,
With pressure levels fit to burst
Upon that most exhausting day.
And shortly after, he jumped up,
In such a leap we’ll ne’er forget,
And nodded sweetly in the net
To keep oul’ Ireland in the Cup.

Born in the USA

The World Cup in Ninety Four,
Denis Irwin hurt his jaw,
Steak was out, it was too tough,
So he tried some seafood stuff.

Prawn in the USA,
He had Prawn in the USA
Prawn in the USA
Seafood chowder in the USA

Abba were not in the charts,
But Paul McGrath was in their hearts,
Three watched on their TV screen
But one came out for the Boys in Green.

(It was) Bjorn in the USA
Bjorn in the USA
Bjorn in the USA
No Agnethe nor Benny in the USA.

Jack Charlton threw his weight around,
Tried it on at every ground,
Didn’t use his brains too much,
Tried to mix it with the Dutch.

Brawn in the USA
Brawn in the USA
Brawn in the USA
No tact or guile in the USA

Andy Townsend dyed his hair,
Went from very dark to fair.
The sex industry was impressed,
Tried to coax him to get undressed,

(It was) Porn in the USA,
Porn in the USA,
Porn in the USA,
Let it all hang out in the USA.

Giant in the Giants’ Stadium

Scorned women and the fires of hell do not possess the fury,
Of I-ta-li-an support, when someone scores ‘gainst the Azzurri.
And Houghton’s goal did stir them up,
Attack! Attack the ball!
But none of them had reckoned with the majesty of Paul.
Oooh Aaaah Paul McGrath,
The majesty of Paul.

They loaded up their weapons and they jumped into their tanks,
And tried to catch the Irish out by storming down the flanks,
But one man saw the danger,
And he formed a one-man wall,
The men in blue could not get round the tow’ring might of Paul.
Oooh Aaaah Paul McGrath,
The tow’ring might of Paul.

They let loose with their hand grenades and sent their bombers in,
Desperate to make sure that the Irish didn’t win.
Shells rained down upon the lines
Where Ireland set her stall,
But through the heavy smoke emerged the mighty frame of Paul.
Oooh Aaaah Paul McGrath,
The mighty frame of Paul.

Blackened-faced commandos rained on down with parachutes,
A sight that might have left the Irish quaking in their boots,
But Paul McGrath just pursed his lips,
And blew a mighty squall.
Blew them out to Coney did the powerful lips of Paul.
Oooh Aaaah Paul McGrath,
The powerful lips of Paul.

The generals sent the army in, each soldier armed and primed,
The terrifying attack was most immaculately timed.
But they miscalculated if
They thought that we would fall,
For nothing ever got beyond the mountain that was Paul.
Oooh Aaaah Paul McGrath,
The mountain that was Paul.

At last they got the message and the white flag was displayed,
Bestowing ‘pon the Irish team the greatest accolade,
One of the best performances that Irishmen recall,
Inspired by Ireland’s demi-god, the sprightly, ageless Paul
Oooh Aaaah Paul McGrath,
The sprightly, ageless Paul.

Paul McGrath’s Knees

Was there anything wrong with Paul McGrath’s knees?
Or did he just hate doing training?
All of the time, we accepted his pleas
That his tired old joints were complaining.

And yet, his career got longer and longer,
Defying advancing old age.
And year after year, his physique got much stronger,
As far as outsiders could gauge.

So despite those bad knees [if they really existed],
His career had tremendous longevity.
While healthier men, who with training persisted,
Played but with comparative brevity.

Alan McLoughlin Gets us to America [1993]

Ireland could not equalise,
Bingham had us on the ropes.
Joy in our near-neighbours’ eyes,
Banishing our U.S. hopes.

Where our superstars had failed,
Alan relished the occasion.
Where some bigger nerves had failed,
His now balanced the equation.

Never one to be the bride,
Content with a supporting role,
Called at last into the side
And scored the all-important goal.

Took the crossed ball in his stride,
Rifled it into the net.
Hail the shy and blushing bride!
Alan, we will ne’er forget.

Ireland’s Most Underrated Goal

The atmosphere around the ground was so thick it was spreadable.
For weeks we’d thought of little else, the tension was incredible.
All wound up to get at Spain and claim the two points needed,
The caution of the realists went very much unheeded.

Sure, didn’t we get a draw in Spain? The Sevillians had been cowed,
And Aldo even had a goal unjustly disallowed.
They wouldn’t relish playing here, their chances would be slender,
We’d pressurise them from the off and force them to surrender.

Big Jack went for 4-5-1, with Quinn up front alone,
And here and there among the crowd was heard a plaintive groan.
But mostly we were on a high – Jack knew what he was doing,
And nobody suspected the disaster that was brewing.

Thirty minutes on the clock, our World Cup dreams were shattered.
Three times did the Spanish forwards snatch the goals that mattered.
Our sails were limp and windless, as we watched with great contrition,
Succumbing very meekly to the Spanish inquisition.

Of course, the game was over, and the crowd was quite subdued.
We’d been so sure we’d hit the net, we’d hopelessly miscued.
The Spanish were delirious and waved their red scarves proudly,
Dancing on their sectioned seats and chanting very loudly.

The Spaniards took the pressure off, though still in clear control,
As we hustled and we bustled in attempts to find a goal.
We switched it back to 4-4-2 and got some more possession,
But had no joy until the middle of the second session.

Houghton found John Sheridan, who had been quite impressive,
Threading passes here and there and being most expressive.
He skipped around some tackles with redoubtable persistence,
Then passed the ball into the net from barely six yards distance.

The crowd’s response was fairly mute, half-heartedly they cheered,
For many of our so-called loyal fans had disappeared.
A poor reward, one reasoned, for the way he found the net,
Although it’s true significance was not apparent yet.

It saw us to America, that “consolation” shot,
As Denmark failed by just one goal to gain that second spot.
That super strike from Sheridan thus brought us to salvation,
Though, to our shame, it garnered such a very poor ovation.

Tony Cascarino

Tony Cascarino was so solid and dependable,
Though first with Aldo, then with Quinn,
Jack thought he was expendable.
But when he got called off the bench, he thought he was Mike Tyson,
Rampaged at defenders like a badly wounded bison.
Many of the goals he scored were vitally important.
But should he have been capped at all?
Some people say he oughtn’t,
For questions have been raised about his mammy and his daddy,
But with a name like Cascarino, sure,
He had to be a Paddy.

Houghton’s Miss vs. England 1991

Half-poised to leap aloft and roar
To celebrate a brilliant score.

No-one was the least surprised
When Dixon’s goal was equalised.
A fluent move, despatched by Quinn
Which surely set us up to win.
And so with hopeful hearts we pressed
Around the England box with zest,
Playing with such self-belief
That England could get no relief.
Then, as the final whistle neared,
There it was! The gap appeared!
And Razor Houghton, eight yards out,
With foot so sure and heart so stout,
Was all alone in front of goal,
With too much sugar in his bowl.
He had to score! Our backsides rose,
Our fists were clenched, expressions froze,
And as we waited, open-eyed,
He blazed his effort inches wide.

We closed our eyes and grimaced for
It was our final chance to score.
And so, alas, the match was tied
And England later qualified
When one of Lineker’s late goals
Unjustly beat the gallant Poles.
And Ireland, very narrowly second,
Lost out as further glory beckoned.

In Stuttgart, Ray, you scaled the heights,
And gave the nation drunken nights.
And in New York, you did the same
And garnered everlasting fame.
One of the greatest players seen
To wear the famous Irish green,
You gave us rapture, gave us bliss,
But Jaysus, Ray! How did you miss?
For though so much rode on a win,
My granny would have knocked that in.

The Olympic Stadium, Rome

Packie’s parry on the line,
Stumbling as he fell,
Schillachi star about to shine,
Sounding our death knell.

Carefully he picked his spot
With great deliberation,
An accurate, well-measured shot
That earned deification.

The cross that came in from the right
That reached McGrath’s strong head.
Just was not to be our night,
Our dreams were put to bed.

Franco Baresi on the ball,
Calm and self-assured,
Didn’t see Townsend at all
Till well and truly skewered.

The crowd that tarried in the ground
Although the match was finished,
The constant, marvellous wall of sound
That never once diminished.

The memory is fading now,
The details have gone hazy,
But wasn’t it fantastic how
The country all went crazy?

With O’Leary in the Grave

Behind the couch, I watch him slowly
Place the ball upon the spot.
By the Lord of all thing’s holy,
He will miss it, sure as not.
Who decided he should take
This most important penalty?
A quarter final place at stake,
The populace in agony.
George Hamilton is commentating,
Cue: “A nation holds its breath!”
And he isn’t overstating,
This is really sudden death.
As he runs, my wife’s eyes wince,
My mother cowers behind the door,
My heart knots up like never since,
Georgie Boy lets out a roar.
Now O’Leary’s on his knees,
Throws his arms into the air,
Joy in the Genoan breeze,
This is much too much to bear.
Dancing round and round the telly,
Giving mother-in-law a hug,
Thighbones twitching like a jelly,
Collapsing breathless on the rug.

Birth of a Legend

One of five brothers born on the same day,
To a mother of very fair skin,
Born on the river in Egypt, they say,
And so he was named Nile Quin.

Quinn’s Equaliser Against the Dutch – Italia 90

‘Twas a second half of tension,
Fingers gnawed in apprehension,
Chances far too few to mention,
Holland still maintained their lead.
Was this where our World Cup ended?
Not the way that we intended,
Though we bravely had defended,
Scoring was a vital need.

Though the minute hand was ticking,
Jack was to the game plan sticking,
Play’n’ the way that we were kicking,
Pressurise and keep it tight.
Packie sent a kick-out flying,
Way up, altitude-defying,
With the Dutch defenders trying
Hard to judge it’s soaring flight.

Cas and Quinn were watching, lurking,
Both so honest and hard-working,
Never once their duties shirking,
As the leather orb did fall.
And with Tony set for pouncing,
Van Aarle tried to stop it bouncing,
Most inelegantly flouncing,
Swung a leg and kicked the ball.

Towards the goal, he lobbed it deeper,
Past the startled orange sweeper,
Near the waiting, watchful keeper,
By chance, perhaps, or by design.
Van Breukelen though did misjudge it,
Unusually for him did fudge it,
Inadvertently did nudge it,
Sideways ‘cross the six yard line.

Dutch defenders were still dreaming,
Irish fans were roaring, screaming,
In came mighty Quinner steaming,
Sliding in to reach it first.
And, as the ball with great elation
Bulged the net in celebration,
The total Irish population,
Hollered as if fit to burst.

Packie Bonner


Packie Bonner, in the pink,
Went to fetch himself a drink.
The barman took his order and
Delivered it into his hand.
But, as poor Packie turned to go,
Some unobservant so-and-so,
Did nudge his elbow with his arm,
Which caused the keeper great alarm.
Reflexes, quicker than a wink,
Were not enough to save his drink.
For lo! the massive Irish star
Did tip it blithely o’er the bar.


The old judge looked down at the shameless defendant,
The goalkeeping hero, Pat Bonner.
“You admit that you grimaced?” he asked, wig resplendent.
Said Packie, “I grimaced, your Honour.”

“Very well,” said the judge, “that is rather convenient,
And seeing that you show no repentance,
Community service is really too lenient –
I impose a custodial sentence.”

Typical Egyptian Throw-In Italia 1990

[to be read as slowly as possible]

Oh, look! The ball’s gone out of play.
I think that it’s our throw.
Don’t hurry now, we’ve got all day.
We’re drawing, don’t you know?
The ballboy’s picked the ball up first.
Throw it to me, sonny!
It’s hit my knee. I must be cursed.
No really, it’s not funny.
Darn, it’s rolled away again.
I’ll get it, don’t you worry.
Rushing goes against the grain,
Oh, why do people hurry?
There now, see! I’ve got the ball.
I’m back in my position.
But was it a throw-in at all?
What was the ref’s decision?
I’ll place the ball down for a free
And take a few steps back.
Is someone whistling loud at me?
Why can’t they cut some slack?
Sorry, ref, what’s that you say?
I don’t quite understand.
Why are you looking cross today
And pointing at your hand?
Oh yes, I see, it is a throw!
Forgive me, my mistake.
Sure, I’ll get on with the show.
Why not, for goodness sake?
Now where did the football go out?
Was it here or further up?
It’s hard to think, there is no doubt,
When playing in the Cup.
Here, you say, Herr Referee?
Here, where you’ve just pointed?
Thank you for your accuracy,
I’m sorry I’m disjointed.
Here, I’ll throw it down the line.
Oh no. He’s being marked.
The Irish lads don’t act benign.
In fact, they’re getting narked.
Perhaps I’ll do a massive throw
Away back to the keeper.
Maybe not. It may not go
Much further than the sweeper.
Why does no-one make a run,
Or show a turn of pace?
D’you think I’m standing here for fun?
That’s really not the case.
Someone come a wee bit nearer?
You’re all too far away.
Come in where I can see you clearer.
Don’t you want to play?
What was that? I heard a call.
Oh yes, it’s my full back.
He’s calling loudly for the ball.
I’d better throw it back.
Oh dearie, it is not my day.
God curse that Irish toe!
Oh look, the ball’s gone out of play.
I think that it’s our throw.

Ireland’s Equaliser vs. England Italia 90

[Our first ever goal in the World Cup Finals]

Beneath the hot Sardinian sun,
England thought they had it won,
Believing simply they had done
Enough to win the tie.
But Ireland were not finished yet,
And ‘bout an equaliser set,
Striving hard to find the net
As minutes trickled by.

Behind his staunch defensive wall,
Bold Packie Bonner, Ireland’s tall
And agile goalie got the ball
And clutched it to his front.
And, as he waved the lads away,
He grimaced in his unique way,
And launched the ball back into play
With an almighty punt.

Up and up and up it soared,
Defenders watching, open-jawed,
As Ireland’s mad supporters roared,
Or gave a fist-clenched laugh.
Up and up and up it went,
Quite nearly into orbit sent,
And then began it’s long descent
Deep in the English half.

And Cascarino, striving, straining,
Being dragged but not complaining,
O’er the England centres gaining,
Bravely stretched his head,
And knocked it sideways, where the weedy-
Looking frame of Kevin Sheedy,
Like an ad for Help the Needy,
Waited to be fed.

But Sheedy, nervous, miscontrolled it,
Tried to pass with time to hold it,
Straight to Steve McMahon he rolled it,
As we railed ‘gainst heaven.
But fair McMahon quite oddly gave a
Nation something great to savour,
Unusually returned the favour,
Knocked it back to Kevin.

This time, Kev was less ungainly,
In his stride, he took it plainly,
McMahon essayed a tackle vainly,
Kevin beat him to it.
Suddenly the goal was gaping,
Shilton moved anticipating,
Sheedy shot with steam escaping,
As he followed through it.

Low across the turf it arrowed,
Shilton looked distraught and harrowed,
Thought he had the angle narrowed,
But Kev’s aim was true.
Bulged the net in sweet elation,
A nation leapt in jubilation,
Sheedy took the adulation
That arrived on cue.

Lineker’s Goal Against Ireland in Cagliari

And Sheedy turned and raised his hand
To claim possession of the throw,
But Waddle had the touchline manned,
And o’er the line it did not go.

And Lineker, quick-thinking, sought
The cross from Waddle to control,
As Bonner spread, with actions fraught,
To block the passage to the goal.

McCarthy tried to make up ground,
With Morris standing much too square,
As all through Ireland came the sound
Of horror mingled with despair.

But Lineker caught it not too well,
Although it struck him on the breast,
As Bonner in great anguish fell,
The Englishman that day was blessed.

Instead of chesting in his stride,
It took an angular deflection.
Where Bonner sought to field it wide,
The ball went in the wrong direction

And trickled, trickled, oh, so slowly
To the now unguarded met,
Past the brave and valiant goalie,
Cruelly, for ‘twas so ill-met.

And Lineker and Mick McCarthy
Scrambled on in mad pursuit,
But sadly, ‘twas the English party
Reached it first with outstretched boot.

As Lineker peeled off, delighted,
Sunburnt face alive with glee,
Over here, ‘twas unrequited,
As we watched despondently.

The Crushing of Gary Waddock

And so the Geordie broke the news,
To this young red-haired Irishman
Who did not figure in the plan.
And Jack was steadfast in his views.
Chosen for the final squad,
Preparing at their Maltese base,
He learned that he lost his place,
And must have glanced askance at God.

Forever faithful to the cause,
Passionately, he’d chase the ball,
In every game he gave his all
And left the pitch to great applause.
Cruel injury had laid him low,
But with a heart of hardened steel,
This warrior refused to kneel
Or lie down meekly in the flow.

And thus determined, did he gain
His rightful place back in the team,
With prospect of each player’s dream,
A World Cup place! Yet all in vain.
Forsooth, a mere fortnight ‘ere
The first Sardinian game began,
Long Charlton fumbled with the plan,
And brought bold Waddock to despair.

And so, alone and crushed, returned,
Discarded in the spotlight’s glare,
With dreams destroyed beyond repair,
Despite the battling chance he’d earned.
Reward and honour, where’s thy shame,
To wound an honest, noble heart?
What anger must we now impart,
When people say ‘tis just a game?

Captain Fantastic

Kevin Moran had a yen
To play in pantomime,
And so he did it, now and then,
Whenever he had time.

The parts he played were only small,
Sometimes even scenery!
In “Robin Hood,” as I recall,
He played a piece of greenery.

In “Peter Pan,” his part was crude,
Though really rather droll.
When Captain Hook called for some food,
Kev played a captain’s roll.

Aldo’s First Goal for Ireland

We played against Tunisia, away back in the past,
Wond’ring if John Aldridge would come good and score at last.
But then there came an omen, a strange sign from Lady Luck,
For, sitting in the bath beforehand, Aldo broke his duck.

Euro 88 – Ireland vs Holland

George Hamilton actually gloated.
I couldn’t believe my ears.
And though it was sugary coated,
He summonsed our deepermost fears.

“The Dutch,” he announced with elation,
“Don’t seem to know how to respond!”
“Shut up!” screamed the whole population,
From the shores of this land and beyond.

But sure enough, two minutes after,
With a header the Dutch went ahead,
And amid all the bright orange laughter,
We wished hapless Georgie-boy dead.

The match had not too long remaining,
And Ireland looked set to go through,
And I’m not one for bitter complaining,
But anger where anger is due.

What a ludicrous thing to be saying!
Why the great, urgent need to tempt fate?
Especially when Ireland are playing
And we’ve more than enough on our plate.

The Dutch won the whole competition,
Though Ireland had done a good job.
No tactics contrived our perdition,
Just outspoken George’s big gob.

Mick McCarthy Gets Cold Feet

In Euro 88, as football fever gripped the nation,
In Hanover, the lads inspected their accommodation.
Mostly they were very pleased, as far as they could tell,
But Mick McCarthy had a little carp ‘bout the hotel.

“Its very nahce,” said he to Jack. “Ahm sure it’s pretty prahcy,
Although me room is lahk a fridge, it’s really flippin’ ahcy.
I lahk a bit o’ warmth, so can ya get me extra beddin’?
‘Cos wakin’ up wi’ frostbaht’s really somethin’ Ah’ve bin dreadin’.”

“Ahl goo ‘n’ fahnd the chambermaid,” said Jack with furrowed brow.
“Ahm sure that if Ah ask ‘er nace, shill sort ya out somehow.”
And off he went, back up the stairs, inordinately wishing
That he could find a bit of time to go and do some fishing.

Mick went back up to his room at nearly eight o’clock.
He’d not been in a minute, when there came a strident knock.
In strode the pretty chambermaid, without the slightest qualms,
Assorted eiderdowns and bedspreads piled up in her arms.

She laid the pile of bedclothes down upon McCarthy’s bed.
“Blankets oder eiderdown? Ve haff zem all,” she said.
Mick surveyed the options as he stood there by her side,
“Ah think ah’ll tek a long throw, love,” he cryptically replied.

Oh, Ronnie Whelan!

Purposeful, McCarthy strode
Across the Hanoverian pitch,
Across the painted touchline, which
Pristine against the green turf showed.
And, as the Irish thousands bayed,
He clutched the ball between his hands
And turned his back upon the stands
And slowly o’er the ground surveyed.
The Russian players turned and faced
McCarthy, waiting for the throw,
Unaware where it would go,
Yet hoping it would be misplaced.
But like a spring, the Barnsley man
Uncoiled like a rattlesnake
And hurled the ball without mistake
Behind the waiting Irish van.
And thus did he the Reds confound
In thinking that the soaring throw
Towards their packed defence would go,
Instead of sideways ‘cross the ground
To where, unmarked, a player waited,
Midfield star of great renown,
Not only in his own home town
But mightily in Anfield feted.
Ronnie Whelan watched the ball
Come arcing down from up on high,
Watched with concentrated eye,
As slowly it began to fall.
And with a scissors kick sublime,
With both legs scything through the air,
He caught the ball with practised flair,
A moment captured for all time.
No matter that the football struck
Bould Ronnie fully on the shin,
For bravery oft helps begin
The acquisition of sheer luck.
And fired by shin, the ball did steer
With curving flight into the net.
The keeper, diving, could not get
A hand upon the spinning sphere.
It was a dish so sweetly served
By such an undisputed cook,
Adorned with just a slice of luck,
As Ireland’s prowess had deserved.

Lest we forget

Crouched behind chairs, between fingers we snuck
Fleeting glimpses, afraid we would run out of luck.
The header went down in our footballing lore,
Seventy nine minutes to sit on that score.
And Gascoigne and Lineker had chance after chance,
Leading our back four a right royal dance.
Penned in on all sides, with the traffic one way,
We scarcely believed it would turn out our day.
The slow-ticking clock, so unwilling to move
Never travelled so slowly, as stuck in that groove.
And Packie blocked shots with his legs, head and chest
And we sighed with relief, though Jack wasn’t impressed.
“You’re playing too deep!” he roared at his keeper,
“No wonder you’re busy – you should be our sweeper!”
While we, on our knees and peering ‘round cushions
Had no time to ponder our game with the Russians.
Bombarded, split open and totally drained,
Emotions distilled, till but pure joy remained.

Stuttgart 88 [The Pop-Up Version]

Ray Houghton went to Germany,
A long, long way to roam.
He saw the famous Stuttgart sights,
And then he headed home.

Far Reaching Repercussions

Far away across the galaxy, a billion light years hence,
A startled Betelgeusian became extremely tense.
‘Twas in the Scientific Hall, a dark and gloomy place
Where astronomic instruments are trained on Outer Space.
They pinpoint radiation and they pinpoint sound as well,
And they’ve even got an “odourscope” designed to pinpoint smell.
This startled Space Observer had been diagnosing sound,
When suddenly he threw his leather headphones to the ground.
And as he gently rubbed his ears, the other scientists
Looked up at him quite quizzically and stopped preparing lists.
“I heard it,” he moaned abstractedly, “I heard a massive roar
Emanating somewhere near the edge of Sector Four.”
Well, they scrambled all the light machines, and sent them with great haste
Towards the source of that great roar across the vacuumed waste.
And then they made a cup of tea and stretched their arms and waited
Until the Sound Investigators had investigated.
And after nearly fifteen years, the Head of Phonics brought
The long-awaited copy of the “Massive Roar” report.
The roar had been produced upon a little spinning planet,
Composed of mainly, H Two O and silicone and granite.
And on this largely liquid world, a greenish island lay,
Its population watching telly on that fateful day.
And they all roared in unison, the Head of Phonics said,
When an alien called Houghton headed over Shilton’s head.

Stuttgart 88 ABC

As brave Charlton directed efforts furiously,
Gallant Houghton instinctively jumped,
Knavishly leering,
Mischievously nodding over Peter “Quick Reflexes” Shilton
To underpin victory,
While Xanadu yelled zealously.

The Greatest Ten Seconds of Irish History

The worthy Moran, staunch and unafraid,
With steadfast foot the lifeless ball did send
With elevation to the English end,
Where Stapleton with sunken cheekbones preyed.
But wily Frank did judge it not to well,
Well marshalled as he was by Stevens fair,
Of strong physique and frankly suspect hair,
And turned aside embittered as it fell.
But leapt the massive Wright into the fray,
Hot headed ‘neath the burning Stuttgart sun,
And though the probing missile had seem’d won,
His foolish interjection did dismay
The red-cross’d hordes that gasped in disbelief
As Wright and Stevens crashed upon the pitch,
Abandoning the bouncing football which
Was seized upon by Galvin like a thief.
Then swivelled Tony Galvin uncoerced,
And lobbed the ball with angled foot inside,
But Irish smiles like fading sunlight died
As Sansom moved to reach the object first.
But lo! the ball before said Sansom bounced,
And as the Arsenal fullback made to swing
His foot to lash the ball on down the wing,
Kind fate with sweet poetic justice pounced.
And thus the ball directly upward flew
With joyous imprecation to the skies,
And as the English watched it with surprise,
Moustachioed John Aldridge watched it too.
And with a spring from luscious turf well primed,
His em’rald shirt o’er white defender soared
And gained the most significant reward
From salmon leap immaculately timed.
And from the cheeky Scouser’s furrowed brow,
The ball in perfect arc and calm control
Was commandeered sideways ‘cross the goal,
As far as it’s volition would allow.
And all alone the stocky Houghton came
To meet the urging ball with mop-strewn head,
And as perfidious Albion watched with dread,
Young Razor earned his everlasting fame.
Inch by inch the spinning football went,
Eagerly eluding Shilton’s might,
Until it reached the apex of it’s flight,
When carefully it started it’s descent.
And in a scene no Gael will e’er forget,
As all the Universe in wonder stopped,
The ball with grace o’er groping Shilton dropped,
And landed with crescendo in the net.

Jack Pulls the Perfect Pint / Gary Mackay / Silverware

With calm, cool assurance,
He held the glass steady.
A trial of endurance,
Though patently ready.
Angled obliquely,
The glass never wavered,
The liquid poured sleekly,
So potently flavoured.
The caramel foment
Was arching and swirling,
He paused for a moment
To watch the fronds curling.
Time barely ticking,
The chaos abated.
Lips drily licking,
He patiently waited.
A head white and creamy,
Sat shining so proudly,
Aspiring and dreamy
And gleaming so loudly.
Beneath lay the porter
So black and enticing,
The dark, heavy water
A-topped with smooth icing.
And when he had judged it,
He filled the glass slowly,
Just carefully nudged it
With reverence holy.

In Stuttgart was culled
The results of endeavour,
When Jack Charlton pulled
The most perfect pint ever.
St. Gary Mackay of Sacred Hearts

Down in a pub on Dublin’s quays,
I drank my pint with carefree ease.
Above the bar, a fuzzy screen
Showed football. Not the Boys in Green,
But Scotland playing in Sofia.
And though the picture wasn’t clear,
We knew the Bulgars were on top
And soon our dreams would slow, then stop.

The qualifiers were nearly o’er,
And though we had come to the fore,
Bulgaria needed but a point
To put our noses out of joint.
Nobody thought the Scots could win,
Prepared to take it on the chin.
And so unconfident were we
The people watching numbered three.

Chances came and chances went.
The ball, it seemed, the whole time spent
In Scotland’s half – and thus our hopes
Were swaying madly on the ropes.
But then, with minutes left but few,
The customers (now numbered two –
Myself and some lad in a cap
Who seemed to be a daycent chap)
Sat open-mouthed in disbelief
As Scotland, like a brazen thief,
Broke once upfield and young Mackay
Became the apple of Ireland’s eye
By firing left foot low and hard
To catch their keeper off his guard.

We stared, our minds engulfed in cloud.
Was it a goal, or disallowed?
A goal! A goal! We yelled and screamed –
All hell had broken loose, it seemed.
Bulgaria threw everything
Into attack. Balls down the wing
Came sailing o’er, attackers leapt,
But somehow Scots defenders kept
Them out. One shot then struck the post!
Sweet Lord, it really was the most
Nerve-wracking time I’ve ever spent –
The pressure did not once relent.

And then the final whistle blew
And, for the first time, we were through!

With the rest of the world heading Mexico way,
Big Jack turned his back on the sun.
We flew up to Iceland to skies cold and grey
To engage in some Arctic-style fun.
‘Twas not a big tournament, only three teams
Whose World Cup ambitions became shattered dreams,
But up in the land of great weather extremes,
We ended up second to none.

We’d never won nothing, we’d never been blessed
To qualify out of a group.
Our lack of cohesion, despite our great zest,
Had landed us oft in the soup.
But here against Iceland and then ‘gainst the Czechs,
We started to see things with rosier specs.
When we won the damned Cup it was better than sex
And we felt like the cock of the hoop.

The Death of Eoin

The manager. The nearly man.
His goose was truly cooked.
Things hadn’t gone at all to plan,
He’d pressed the self-destruct.

So near he came, and yet so far,
Cruel luck ran through his story.
The very thickness of the bar
Could well have brought him glory.

But in the end, ‘twas not to be,
Results just tailed away.
And Eoin’s fate was sealed for he
Was honest as a day.

The method though was somewhat shoddy,
Detectives did impart.
A groundsman came across the body,
Dagger through the heart.

They hauled the usual suspects in,
Liam and Frank and Dave,
But each showed a defiant chin,
And strong denials gave.

But, thanks to the forensics’ lad,
They freed the trio and
Proved that the late lamented had
Died by his Eoin Hand.

Gerry Daly

Somebody scribbled all over the ball,
Chapters and verses in letters so small.
Calligraphy-wise, ‘twas a bit of a scrawl,
Deciphering it was an order quite tall,
With theorists banging their heads off a wall,
As disputes over meaning turned into a brawl.
But it was no bother to Gerry at all,

He could always read the ball brilliantly.

Lansdowne, I Hardly Knew You

Along with fifteen thousand more,
I watched the great John Sivebeck score.
From the right full back position,
He mesmerised the opposition.
On and on and on he ran
With smooth control and great elan
And finished with a mighty shot
That Packie Bonner found too hot.

The clapping echoed ‘round the stand,
And marked the end for Eoin Hand.

Three years later, Lansdowne Road,
With great supporters overflowed.
Terrace tickets were elusive,
And, as I found out, exclusive.
How many people who had seen
The Danes destroy the Boys in Green
Found getting tickets far too stressful,
Now we had become successful?
How many, we can only guess,
Came only we got success?
“The best supporters in the world,”
Announced the banners, now unfurled.
[But only, they forgot to tell,
At times when we were doing well.]

Mickey Walsh Produces the Goods

In January ’85, Ireland’s Eoin Hand
Announced his squad for Italy, exactly as he’d planned.
Defeat in Copenhagen meant that changes were expected,
And one change in particular was certainly suspected.
Mickey Walsh of Porto thus discovered he’d been dropped,
His international career had been prematurely stopped.
Yet somehow, I don’t think he cared ‘bout Ireland or ‘bout squads,
For on that day, his darling wife presented him with quads.

Tony Galvin / Famous Buns of History

Famous buns of history (Part 1)
What kind of bun did Paddy Mulligan throw?
Did he throw an oul’ bun at all?
Did it make one boss
So hot and so cross
That he wouldn’t give Paddy the ball?

Was it London, was it Saffron, was it Chelsea?
Was it buttered or was it plain?
Or perhaps it was Bath
That spiked Paddy’s path,
And ushered in Eoin’s reign?
1980 - After Johnny Giles quit, Eoin Hand beat Paddy Mulligan to the Ireland manager's job by one swing vote. Afterwards, one FAI board member said that he had voted for Hand because he thought Mulligan was the person who had thrown a bun at him on an away trip. originally posted by 'the spuds r boiling' on the "An Fear Rua - The GAA Unplugged" website
Tony Galvin
He never kissed the six-yard box,
Nor held the centre spot.
The larger penalty area
Touched romantic ardour not.
With the teasing centre circle,
His strong arms did not entwine,
But everybody roared when
Tony Galvin hugged the line.

The Luck of the Irish [76-81]

‘Twas at the end of ’76, the Irish were in France,
Where Stapo’s goal from Brady’s cross had given us a chance,
But joy was interrupted by a travesty unfair,
When the peering, Slavic linesman raised his flag into the air.

Summertime in’77, in Sofia we strayed,
But once again, the Irish fans were cruelly dismayed.
Givens was about to shoot, they barged him in the back.
The ref deemed that a fair way to break up the green attack.

Then Gilesy struck a beauty, and the points were in the bag,
But twenty minutes afterwards, the linesman raised his flag.
The Bulgars were so fortunate to win by 2-1, which
Is why the home supporters clapped the Greek ref off the pitch.

Two years later, back in Paris, losing by a goal,
Kevin Moran nods it down with marvellous control,
Robbo puts it in the net to answer Ireland’s call,
But incredibly the ref decides a hand has touched the ball.

1981 in March, we’re off to play in Brussels,
A game that many people see as one of our great tussles.
And Stapo scores before half-time to stupefy the crowd,
And no-one has a notion why the goal is disallowed.

And then, towards the very end, the Belgians get a free,
The ball is blasted at the net with great ferocity.
It flies up off an Irish head, away up in the air,
And Irish goalie, Jim McDonagh, doesn’t have a prayer.

He’s trampled on and kicked and gouged and mashed into the ground,
He’s punched and kneed and disembowelled by everyone around,
And as the ball comes down again, Jan Ceulemans is there
To nod into the empty net, which seemingly’s quite fair.

Giles in the seventies just couldn’t understand,
What he had done to have been dealt a most unlucky hand.
And later, in the eighties, Eoin Hand did feel the same,
When terrible decisions robbed his team of hard-earned fame.

Liam Brady

When first he burst upon the scene
To don the famous Irish green,
Way back towards the end of seventy four,
He put the Russians to the sword,
And Dalymount with fervour roared,
As Givens thrice delightedly did score.

Mancini took the walk of shame,
But Brady ‘twas, who ran the game,
And gave an exhibition of great skill.
Next day the world in stupor read
How Russia had been left for dead
For Ireland had dismissed them three to nil.

And as we hailed a superstar,
So young of age, who’d come so far,
We wondered, would his youthful brilliance last?
Or would he shine for just one game?
Would injury snuff out the flame
‘Ere many international games had passed?

But time, with fond embrace, did show
How Liam, year by year did grow
To be one of the finest goal creators.
His famed left foot was magic, but
He also had a great right foot,
Which oft is overlooked by commentators.

I won’t pretend that every time
He played, he reached that perfect prime.
Certain games he barely got a mention.
But no-one else possessed his vision,
Passed with such direct incision
Or drew the least discerning fan’s attention.

For fifteen years he gave his all,
Answering the Gaelic call,
Except when he was injured or suspended.
And football is a cruel game,
For Ireland’s greatest success came,
Just as Chippie’s long career ended.

Only a game?

This remarkable book,
which brought him great acclaim.
The epithet stuck –
was it only a game?
A journeyman’s tale
in the second division,
Ambition grown stale
and inviting derision.
“I couldn’t care less,”
he intoned near the end,
“for the men of the press
and the tripe that they’ve penned.
They sit on their eyries
massaging the truth
to fit in with their theories,
however uncouth.
The facts must be twisted
to shore up their views
and half-truths are listed
as what they call ‘news.’”

Ironic’s the word
that springs soonest to mind.
Is his memory blurred?
Is he really that blind?
He’s made a nice living
by doing just that,
with his warped, unforgiving
and motive-strewn chat!
The men he’s destroyed
with his merciless pen,
the venom deployed
without counting to ten.
And who says he’s correct
in the theories he floats?

Himself, I expect,
As tradition denotes.

[I Did It] Heighway

He was a brilliant player,
Though his moustache was very iffy.
The fullback had no prayer,
For he was round him in a jiffy.
Equally at home
Whether on a wet or dry day,
At Filbert Street or Rome,
‘Twas Stevie Heighway.

He lived out on the wing,
Up which he frequently would canter.
He made the Koppites sing,
And listened to their sarky banter.
Famed throughout the world,
In Torremolinos or in Taipei,
Where’er the red flag was unfurled,
‘Twas Stevie Heighway.

But when he was picked
To wear the green,
His neck was ricked,
He wasn’t keen,
He had a knock,
He was too tired,
He’d lost a sock,
Passport expired.
His record shows
The path he chose
That’s Stevie Heighway.

Playing for Ireland in the Sixties

Selection for the national side
Was once a cause for burning pride.
And though the trek back home was long,
They faced it with defiance strong.
On Saturdays they’d play a match,
Then change their clothes and run to catch
The train that went to Liverpool,
And eat a pork pie, as a rule.
Then at Lime Street, they’d a very
Briskish walk to catch the ferry.
Nine hours later, dirty, bleary,
Dock in Dublin, or Dun Laoghaire,
Where they’d join up with the squad,
With but a little help from God.
It was a quite exhausting trip
By Shanks’ pony, train and ship.

But in the sixties, certain players
Would not say their travelling prayers,
And claimed that they had got “a knock,”
Or broke the tie-up on their sock,
Or seemed to have mislaid their comb,
Preventing them from coming home.
And there were others Busby told,
“You’re not to go – you’ve got a cold.”
Despite the fact that they felt fit,
Busby would have none of it.

Charlie Hurley used to play
For Sunderland on Saturday.
And when the final whistle blew,
He knew just what he’d have to do.
He wouldn’t bother getting dressed,
But start to run with zeal and zest
Out of the ground and out of sight
Still proudly garbed in red and white.
He’d set a course for west-south-west
[A course he always found the best]
And then he’d run with steady stride,
Until he reached the foaming tide,
Whereupon, he’d plunge into the ocean,
And with a forceful front-crawl motion,
Swim and swim, and in a jiffy,
He’d be powering up the Liffey.
Thus Charlie put them all to shame,
Those charlatans who’d miss the game.

And those “great” players, who will not play
For Ireland’s national team today,
Trying to eke out their careers,
For one or two financial years,
And leave international football early,
Should take a leaf from Charlie Hurley.