This past week saw everyone on TV and radio reminiscing about Italia 90. Draws with England and Egypt had people questioning Jack Charlton and his tactics but that was all about to change with another draw with Holland so after 2 goals and 3 games, Ireland booked a quarter final spot and they would play Romania in Genoa on June 25th.
This was Ireland’s first time on the grandest stage of them all. Yes they went to Euro 88 but this was their first World Cup appearance. From what I have seen , read and been told this was the biggest party this country had seen. The author of this piece was a month old and I spent Italia 90 in Tralee General Hospital.
This was a really special time to be in Ireland because everyone was united by Jack Charlton and his band of merry men. Each game was a huge occasion and families got together and as communities they watched Ireland’s maiden voyage.
Having spoken to a number of people Tarbert was like every other small community and everyone gathered in The Lanterns on the coast road to watch Ireland face Romania. No goals were scored over the 120 minutes and so they would have to go to penalties to decide who would face hosts Italy in Rome.
So Ireland had to brace themselves for the lottery that is penalties , Cascarino , Sheedy , Houghtan , Townsend and Dave O Leary were the men intrusted with taking Ireland’s penalties.
All of Ireland’s penalties were converted and then Daniel Timofte took Romania’s 4th penalty that was saved, to leave Dave O Leary with a shot at Irish sporting history.
He lashed the penalty into the net and cue pandemonium in the stands and at home.
The biggest party this country had ever seen was to continue for another week and who knows had Toto Schlillaci not scored for Italy in Rome maybe the biggest party in Ireland’s sporting history may have continued.
Since Japan and Korea in 2002, Ireland haven’t made it to another World Cup, They did make it to Euro 2012, under the guidance of Giovanni Trapattoni. On this occasion there was to be no big party. They didn’t reach the second round, although they did score 2 consolation goals against Croatia and Spain.
As we head to the business end of another qualifying campaign after defeat to Scotland at home may have signalled the end of another major tournament, maybe just maybe the spirit of Italia 90 might be needed to breathe life into an ailing campaign. Here’s Hoping…
Cian Mc Gibney – 27-06-2015.