Thierry Henry, take a bow son. In the space of four days you have just managed to de-throne Lassana Diarra as public enemy "numéro un" among the followers of the Republic of Ireland football team.
The Frenchman's technique to first control the ball with his arm then maneuver his hand to neatly cushion it into his path to set-up his team’s winning goal was sublime. In fact it should earn him a call up to the senior panel at Down GAA. They could do with talent such as that in their ranks.
In all seriousness though, ROI can quite rightly feel hard-done by. This was their best performance in the World Cup Qualifiers to date. They certainly saved their best ‘til last. Robbie Keane was a Trojan all night long. He was a real pain in the "derrière" for the French. The only time he stopped running was to compose himself for a fine finish to give the Republic the 1-0 victory over the 90 minutes.
In contrast, ‘Les Bleus’ were brutal. Chelsea striker Nickolas Anelka looked to be their only threat playing out of position on the left wing. The manager of France should quit while he’s ahead. I’m no expert on the French national team but leaving Benzema, Govou and Malouda out of the starting line-up? That was scandalous.
Not as scandalous as what was to occur in extra-time though. After much complaining that Anelka should have been awarded a penalty for a clear ‘dive’, and the numerous French off-sides which would you believe, were actually off-side, France were beginning to lose their cool. Yet another hopeful/hopeless (delete as appropriate) long ball punted forward which looked to be going out for a goal-kick. But step forward world superstar Thierry Henry, who would turn the tie on its head with one of the most blatant acts of cheating you will ever see in football. His resulting pass set-up William Gallas who would put an end to any plans the Irish had of topping up their tans in South Africa next summer.
While I was disgusted with what happened to the Republic of Ireland, I find it hilarious the calls being made for the match to be replayed. Are you serious Dermot? So, every time there is a controversial decision in a football match (which is every game in the EPL) the match should be automatically replayed. If that were the case then individual seasons might need to be prolonged by about ten years in order to get the fixtures completed.
It has only been 12 hours since that treacherous act took place in Stade de France and already I'm fed up with the constant moans about how 'unfair' it was to lose. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that over the two legs France scored two goals in total, and the Irish scored one. The Henry hand-ball was bad but it’s not the first time a legend of the game has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. ‘The Hand of God’ in the 1986 World Cup where Maradona scored with his hand against England to send them packing is just one example of teams being ‘screwed’ out of football matches.
It was an event that didn't gain a lot of sympathy from this island though. The whole place sold out of Argentina shirts that summer.