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We need a lot of luck - FAI chief John Delaney, the White House and gear up for the Republic's World Cup qualifier against Sweden

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Whatever about Trap’s unfinished business with him, the great Ibrahimovic certainly has the ability to finish Trap’s time with Ireland this coming weekend.

Anything other than a positive result in Stockholm – and a draw would be a positive result – will leave Ireland’s World Cup hopes hanging by the threads.

A defeat will also get the media knives out for Trapattoni before Tuesday’s game with Austria, knives that have been sharpened ever since that pathetic 6-1 defeat at home to Germany last autumn.
John Delaney knows the storm will be fierce when he returns to Dublin from Sweden after his quick trip Stateside.

Like President Obama, the FAI chief knows what it is like to be in the eye of such a storm, but any tips he picked up in Washington this week will doubtless help if it all goes wrong for Trapattoni and Ireland in Scandinavia ahead of next Tuesday’s home fixture with Austria.

If it goes wrong Delaney and Robbie will be left to pick up the pieces for a squad full of young players who have never experienced anything like this before.

And, just to give them a taste of what’s to come, here’s a reminder of a very famous Sun headline when England lost to Sweden in the 1992 European Championships – Swedes 2, Turnips 1.

That headline could well feature again on Saturday morning. I kid you not.    

(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)

Sideline Views

RUGBY:
When Brian O’Driscoll stamps on an opponent you know there is something seriously wrong with the state of Irish rugby. That happened in the defeat to Italy on Saturday when Dricco was sin-binned for only the second time in his professional career. He doesn’t deserve to end his international career on such a sour note, not even after 125 caps, but Declan Kidney doesn’t deserve to stay on after an inept season crowned by a first ever Six Nations defeat to Italy.

RACING:
Cheltenham was a disaster for my bank account once again this year – mostly because I didn’t listen to the people who gave me winners and thought I knew better – but that counts for nothing next to the plight of top Irish amateur jockey JT McNamara who suffered severe neck injuries in a fall on the Thursday card.  If you read this please pray for him – he needs all the prayers he can get judging by the medical reports.

SOCCER: Spare a thought for Michael Appleton, who was sacked as Blackburn manager on Tuesday after just two months in charge of the struggling Championship side. Appleton was the fifth man to take charge of Rovers this season and the third to be sacked. Blackpool fans won’t be too upset however -- he left them after just a couple of months to take the Blackburn job!

GAA: The former Mayo footballer and Irish basketball star Liam McHale went to Croke Park on Sunday for his 10th All-Ireland final as a player or coach and finally won one as part of the coaching team that guided St. Brigid’s of Roscommon to success in the club football final. Nice story and a happy ending for McHale – at last.

GAA: Fingers crossed for that fine Cork footballer Colm O’Neill, who may well have picked a serious knee injury as his team defeated All-Ireland champions Donegal in the league on Saturday night. O’Neill has done his cruciate twice already so hopefully this time he escapes the need for further surgery.

HERO OF THE WEEK

THERE’S a great photo doing the round of the St. Brigid’s goalkeeper Shane Curran kissing teammate Frankie Dolan at the end of the All-Ireland club football final on Sunday. It’s a proper Roscommon kiss, tongues and all, and none of that continental nonsense. Dolan got the smacker after his last minute winning point for Brigid’s against Ballymun Kickhams, and the 42-year-old Curran gets the plaudits for being one of the great Irish sports stories of this or any other year.

IDIOT OF THE WEEK

HOPEFULLY this act of stupidity isn’t a sign of things to come in Stockholm on Friday night, but how the hell could Giovanni Trapattoni leave Kevin Doyle out of the Ireland squad altogether for the games against Sweden and Austria?  Jon Walters picked up an injury on Tuesday and Doyle may yet be called up as a late replacement, but even allowing for a drop in form at times this season, the Wolves striker should have been on the bench at least in Sweden.

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