***I DON’T HAVE FIFA’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT TO USE, TALK, THINK OR EVEN YELL AT RANDOS FROM MY BALCONY ABOUT ANY NAMES, COUNTRIES OR EVENTS MENTIONED IN MY FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 COVERAGE, SO FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS FROM HERE ON IN, THE EVENT WILL BE REFERRED TO AS QLAMQTAR 2022.***
The Qlamqtar 2022 World Cup is only about three moons away (depending on your own set of lunar circumstances) and the first ever World Cup held in the Arab world promises to be a real doozy. World Cup history is a tale resplendent with stories of triumph against the odds, childhood dreams coming true and unsung heroes becoming legends. As well as dumb idiot losers, wanker fuck ups and teams that are just total bullshit.
But how shall ye learn about these legends, losers and teams that are just total bullshit? Well look no further my wayward friend as I profile all 211 FIFA nations eligible for World Cup qualification. Today, I take a look at Republic of Ireland, which has qualified for three World Cups, 1990, 1994 and 2002.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Lucky, just depending on what your definition of ‘luck’ is
Nickname: The Boys in Green
FIFA Ranking: 47 (August 2022)
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualification result: Failed to advance from group stage (UEFA) finishing below Serbia and Portugal (and above Luxembourg and Azerbaijan)
Republic of Ireland’s Boys in Green have truly had the Luck of the Irish over the course of their World Cup travails. Of course, that depends of what you think of as ‘lucky’ though.
If you consider reaching the World Cup three times and advancing to the knockout round every time–even reaching the quarter-finals once–as ‘being lucky’, or reaching the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup without winning a single game in regulation or extra-time is lucky, or beating Italy in essentially a local derby at the 1994 World Cup on a stunning decisive goal that somehow looped over one of the best goalkeepers in the world and into the net, or even that being lucky means scoring in the 92nd minute to equalise against eventual finalists Germany at the 2002 World Cup, then yeah sure, there’s no doubt The Boys in Green truly have the luck of the Irish.
But if you think being lucky is qualifying for the 1966 World Cup and not losing in a playoff to Spain after deciding to move it from the much more favourable Wembley to Paris and going down 1-0 because of a suspicious attempt at “goalkeeping” that reeks of match-fixing, or it’s ‘lucky’ qualifying for the 1978 World Cup and not missing out on qualification despite defeating eventual qualifiers France but then still finishing bottom of the group, or qualifying for the 1982 World Cup and not failing to because of an inferior goal difference after defeating France at home again, or advancing past the quarter-finals at Italia 90 and not losing to the hosts by a solitary goal conceded after a horror pass and skull-clutchingly disastrous goalkeeping effort, or moving on past the round of 16 at the 1994 World Cup and not getting easily knocked out of the 1994 World Cup by a lacklustre Netherlands side after you had just beaten the world’s then-2nd best ranked team (and eventual finalist) Italy, or progressing past the round of 16 at the 2002 World Cup and not being eliminated by an average Spain team after missing a penalty in normal time, then scoring a penalty to equalize but then still going out on penalties anyway, or having a fair and transparent qualifying route for the 2010 World Cup and not having the rug pulled from underneath you by FIFA who at the last minute decided to seed the European playoffs condemning you to a near impossible task against 2006 World Cup finalists France, a tie which Ireland might have won against the odds and not missed out on a World Cup berth after Thierry Henry blatantly handballed twice, palming the ball to William Gallas to score the late winner in Paris, or beating Slovakia after making the playoffs for Euro 2020 (your best effort in 10 years) and not losing on penalties after a scoreless draw, or beating Luxembourg at home in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup and not gifting them their greatest ever victory, then perhaps the luck of the Irish needs closer examination and scrutiny.
But it just depends on what you think is ‘lucky’.
One to watch: Your harp, on your camping weekend with the boys
So you’re heading away with the fellas for a weekend of beers, bros and bearhunting in the woods. Awesome! It’s gonna be a great bonding experience, and when you’re chilling around the campfire sharing your top shelf stories of past tax returns gone wrong, at some point the boys are gonna want some music, and that’s when the lads are gonna be gagging for you to break out your harp and bust out out some tunes. That’s when it’s your turn to put on a show that they’ll never forget, one that’ll no doubt leave them chanting ‘ONE MORE SONG ONE MORE SONG’, at which point it’s up to you to decide when to close the curtain, to their inevitable dismay.
Despite what the lads might want though, you can’t play the harp all night, and since you already know that the Republic of Ireland is the only country to have a musical instrument as their national symbol, this is the perfect fact to share with the guys in between songs for a little fun respite. Just keep a close eye on the heavens at all times because if they open, you’re gonna wanna make sure you get that bad boy back in the car pronto. You don’t even wanna imagine what moisture could do to the sheesham of your 22-string, 36″ Heather!
Harps provide hours of musical joy but they’re also delicate instruments requiring the greatest of care, so if you do decide to put yours down after starting playing by the campfire for the boys, there’s another thing you’re gonna wanna also watch for aside from damage from humidity or moisture, and that’s your mates wrestling it away from you or just grabbing it when you’re taking a leak and chucking it into the fire, the lake or the woods. Harps that have been tossed into and submerged in scummy freshwater or conflagrated and incinerated in a campfire often never recover their original sound, so be sure to ask the lads beforehand that if it’s cool with them, whether they’d mind not using your harp to get the fire going or heaving your harp in the lake to see it sink to the bottom just for a laugh.
Also, remember that sharing is caring, so try not to get carried away playing your harp round the campsite–give someone else a go too! Your mates might be a bit shy to ask, but trust me, they’re raring to give it a go and try shredding a couple tunes like Donizetti’s Harp solo from Lucia di Lammermoor or John Thomas’ Watching the Wheat, but whow there, because you of all people know that before they get there, they’ve gotta start with the basics, so be sure to whip out your desktop PC (connected to a generator you brought) and hit play on this 14 part series on the basics of playing the instrument. That way, not just you but the whole gang can get in on the fun!
The Highpoint: Quarter finalists, 1990 World Cup
Defeating Romania on penalties in the round of 16, Republic of Ireland reached the quarter finals of Italia 90, where they would face Italy. And what ended up happening? Well, let me ask you: How’s the goalkeeping here by Packie Bonner (below)? Thoughts? Top shelf? Top rate? Your take on parrying the ball straight to the opposition and then running away off the field leaving the goal gaping? Good or bad? That’s also not to mention John Aldridge’s nice little lay-off to the Italians that lead to the winner. Thoughts on that? But mostly, what’s your view on the goalkeeping? A goalkeeping gamble to slide off the pitch and leave the team without a goalie? Or genius move that unexpectedly backfired?
Either way, the Irish, in their first ever World Cup fell just short of reaching the semi-finals and a match-up against eventual winners Argentina. Had they made it, who knows, perhaps they might’ve even nicked a goal or two and only lost 4-1 or 5-2!
Learn the lingo & speak like a local!
UEFA Nations League
24 Sep 22
SCOTLAND 🥃 x 🇮🇪 REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
27 Sep 22
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 🇮🇪 x 🇦🇲 ARMENIA