I got two tickets for a birthday present to the Ireland vs. Cyprus World Cup Qualifier in Croke Park last evening. My good friend and former colleague in SmartForce, Ciarán O'Connell, came to the match with me. We had Premium seats with an excellent view of the pitch.
Robbie Keane scored the only goal of the game in 5th minute - we had a perfect view of his header into an empty net. Ireland had most of the opportunities in the first half, but could not add to the lead. Our defence and attack played well, but midfield seemed to be lost. The crowd were calling for Andy Reid quite early on, but Ireland Manager Giovanni Trappatoni made no substitutions other than a time wasting one in the last seconds of the match.
Cyprus were shite all through the game, and Ireland were shite in the second half. Cyprus rarely threated to score, though they did get some opportunities near the end but Richard Dunne resisted all attempts to score. Dunne was man-of-the-match for me, but the press gave the award to Kevin Doyle.
The view in the papers and on radio this morning is that a "win is a win". The heavyweights in our qualifying group, Italy and Bulgaria, won't be shaking in their boots at the prospect of playing Ireland. Italy won again last night (2-1 vs Montenegro) , while Bulgaria drew (0-0 vs Georgia).
We left the ground happy with the win, but it was not an impressive performance by Ireland - especially in midfield. Darren Gibson, who is 9th choice for Manchester United's midfield, failed to impress, as did Glenn Whelen, who can't get into the Stoke City team. Andy Reid, a first choice at Sunderland, was kept on the bench. Trappatoni rules!
We finished the evening with a pint in the Lagoona Bar and a good chat.