Friday, May 25, 2007

The Equal of Ecuador

A bit on football: the Champions' League final was a disappointment though I imagine that the majority of finals in this competition have been such - they certainly were when I was growing up. Fillipo Inzaghi's first goal was dubious in my view, as it clearly went in off his arm, which when moving propelled the ball in the direction it took. It may not have been intentional but an advantage was gained. The Herald Tribune's news report claimed that the ball struck Inzaghi 'above the left-ear', which reminds me of the apartheid-era police claiming that deaths in custody were due to the prisoner throwing himself out of a window. That Liverpool did not protest much says a lot about their professionalism, even if they failed to produce much that could trouble Milan. A much greater injustice was caused by the organisers' incompetence, which caused Liverpool fans without tickets to be denies entry while some with forgeries got in; UEFA's response was to blame Liverpool fans 'collectively' for the incident. It's the sort of disingenuous idiocy that we have all come to expect from football administrative bodies.

Meanwhile over in a near-empty Giants Stadium in New Jersey, a bunch of callow youths in green shirts (and Kevin Kilbane) drew 1-1 with Ecuador, a supposedly spectacular diving header from Kevin Doyle securing the draw. Stan sent out eleven lads on international duty for the first time, including Joe Gamble of Cork City and Joe Lapira, the American-born star of Notre Dame 'Men's Soccer Team'. Lapira is the son of a Dublin mother and is the first amateur player to play for Ireland since 1964. His uncle works at the FAI, and everyone knows that it pays to be be cosy with Merrion Square if you want to wear the green. There were no fewer than four Corkonians used, as well as a few more that have passed through Turner's Cross; Liam Miller was also recalled for the tour, so Roy's gripe about the blazers' beef with Leesiders is looking increasingly strange. A good result but with the Duffer out for the rest of the campaign things are not going to be easy.

Celtic, having stumbled to their second title in a row, face Dunfermline in the Scottish Cup final tomorrow and I have to say that I will not be too tearful if the relegated Pars upset the odds to win their first Cup in forty years. A bit unnatural to wish your own team ill but Dunfermline deserve something after an excellent run, which has seen them eliminate Rangers, Hearts and Hibs. Stephen Kenny's first season in charge disappointingly failed in that they went down but he has fulfilled the potential he showed at Derry. Whichever side wins I'll be happy. Celtic need to recover some of their hunger before next season.