\"Sean

Sean St. Ledger, Republic of Ireland, turns to celebrate his side's goal with team-mate Simon Cox which was subsequently disallowed Photo by: FAI Facebook

Strange men in black show up at Yankee Stadium as Ireland lose 2-0 against world champions Spain

\"Sean

Sean St. Ledger, Republic of Ireland, turns to celebrate his side's goal with team-mate Simon Cox which was subsequently disallowed Photo by: FAI Facebook

“Come on you guys in black?”

Yes, an Irish team famous for being the ‘Boys in Green' played in  all black at Yankee stadium last night, looking like a team of referees who had lost their way on the Cross Bronx and found themselves playing the world champions Spain instead.

Or perhaps the All Blacks rugby team had time warped into Yankee Stadium by mistake and taken over the Irish side.

Given that most of the first team squad was missing the men in black didn’t acquit themselves too badly against the world champs.

But you would think they’d have trotted out the wearing of the green, especially as they were in America, land of  green, especially around St. Patrick’s Day.

So instead some clever executive said Let’s play in black and confuse everyone”.

It didn’t make much difference to the result anyway but probably confused many Irish American supporters, especially those used to the wearing of the green

I can report that under the domed sky and bright lights of Yankee Stadium, Ireland in all black played a friendly against Spain in their usual colors on Tuesday, losing to the world and European champions by 2-0.

The Irish supporters flowed to the massive stadium in a river of green to support their country, cheering them on with pride and encouragement despite the team’s expected failure due to disheartening thoughts of last year’s Euro 2012 disaster when Spain beat Ireland 4-0. 

All in all over 39,000 fans showed up for the friendly.

Managers Del Bosque and Trappattoni also had a few words to say about the supporters:

"The crowds have been very good. They've been very affectionate toward the team," Spain’s Del Bosque was noted to say, "The Irish fans - overall, I'm very pleased.”

Referring to the 39,368 strong crowd, Trappattoni said, “It was fantastic this time. Our support, the Spanish support; the atmosphere was fantastic,”

Friendly banter flew between the Spanish and Irish in the stands. A Mexican wave ran four circles of the stadium with the atmosphere heating up in the second half to the groans of disappointment from the Irish and the cheers from the Spanish as they pushed clear..

Fans outside the stadium were proud to be Irish to have seen their team play Yankee Stadium: “It’s great to see the huge Irish contingent over in America supporting their own even though we’re in a different country,” said Luke Keogh of the Manhattan Gaels gaelic football team.

Soccer fan Maurice Barron said that “Ireland were outplayed and outclassed” but spirits were not completely dampened by the 2-0 loss and as the Irish fans left the stadium renditions of ‘‘Come on you Boys in Green” and “The Fields of Athenry” could be heard coming from all directions, lifting hearts and sung as if Ireland had actually won the match.

All in all, the general consensus seemed to be, “Well at least it wasn’t 4-0”.

The team was also depleted of members such as John O’Shea, Jon Walters, Glenn Whelan and Aiden McGeady who had pulled out of the New York trip after the weekend win over the Faroe Islands.

Neither team had scored by the first half of the game but by the second half, the lights were brighter, the crowd more focused and the players more determined than ever to make a difference to the score.

Before facing Spain in yesterday’s match, Robbie Keane said that Spain could play in a phone box and still keep the ball away from you. Perhaps Ireland’s captain, who had the second hat trick of his career in Ireland’s recent match against the Faroe Islands, wasn’t exaggerating as, despite Ireland’s efforts, Spain seemed to held possession of the ball throughout most of the match with Roberto Soldado coming off the bench to score around 69 minutes into the game.

The Irish fans thought their prayers had been answered when Sean St. Ledger appeared to score 12 minutes later but Simon Cox was ruled offside in the lead up to St Ledger’s goal and it was disallowed.

It was finally time to admit defeat when Spain’s Juan Mata changed the score to 2-0 seven minutes later.

Treating the friendly as a great opportunity for some of the younger players on the team such as Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy and Marc Wilson, Ireland manager Giovanni Trappattoni said: “This is a great opportunity for the young players. They can show they can play against the famous, important players,” “Sure, they will win, but it will be a good test for us,” Trappattoni admitted to the BBC.

Given the encouragement, maybe all black will be back.

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