Thursday, November 19, 2009

Un luck of the Irish

There were no eyes for smiling in Ireland on Wednesday, as controversy once again reigned in World Cup soccer. Another unusual chapter for a game that has had so many.

Wednesday evening, the Republic of Ireland found itself on the outside of the final line ups for next years World Cup in South Africa, a cruel twist of fate that will resonate across that country for months, if not years.

Irish hopes were riding high during the Wednesday match, as the visiting Irish nursed a one goal lead heading into the waning parts of their final match with France, an Irish win would have moved Ireland on to the World Cup and sent the thousands of Irish fans who travelled to Paris for the match into football bliss.

Alas, fate would intervene once again for those Irish dreams, this time in the form of not one but two handballs of France striker Thierry Henry, his handling of the ball as it were resulted in a crossing pass to French defender William Gallas, who headed the ball into the back of the Irish net, effectively putting to an end Ireland's quest for 2010. To make matters worse, it appeared that France was also offside on the play, a daily double of incompetence for the officials.

The controversial goal will once again bring the clouds of suspicion over a sport that never seems to run short of these kinds of incidents, where officials manage to "miss" the key moments of a game with history altering consequences. In this instance, none appeared to have caught the infractions, both of them, and the officials were quick to wash their hands of any arguments from the Irish side.

The goal which has similarities to the Maradona "hand of God" goal of years gone by, is the only talking point in Ireland today, as millions lament what should have been and what was so blatantly snatched away from them. Henry's goal will now join the ranks of the infamous moments of sport, already the marker has been dubbed "The Hand of Gaul"

By rights, when summer comes in 2010 it should be the Green, Orange and White of Ireland that flies on those World Cup stadium flag poles, not the Rouge, Blanc et Bleu. The fact that there place was taken in the way it was, will be something that won't soon be forgotten in the pubs of Dublin, Derry and all points between.
Suffice to say, we would imagine that when the Irish sit down in front of their televisions next summer, they won't be cheering for Les Bleus..

Irish Times-- Henry's hand ends Irish Word Cup hopes
Irish Times-- 'He came over to us and said he cheated'
Irish Times-- Heartbreak of Henry's hand of God, part II
Irish Times-- Mood darkens as recriminations begin
Irish Times-- Treacherous Henry, your cheating art will tell on you
Globe and Mail-- World Cup lineup complete
Globe and Mail-- Henry admits handball
Globe and Mail-- Henry just did what he had to
Sky Sports-- Fury After Henry's World Cup 'Hand Of Gaul'
Sky Sports-- Trap saddened by exit
Press Association-- Dunne: We were cheated
Times Online-- Hand of Thierry Henry shatters Ireland
Belfast Telegraph-- Ireland played like lions, South Africa will miss a hell of a guest
Mirror UK-- No luck for the Irish against France
The Australian-- Thierry Henry handballs football a black eye

MSNBC-- Irish file protest after cheating costs them Cup

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