The World According to Trap


IT'S funny the things that crop up in conversation now that Giovanni Trapattoni is firmly ensconced as manager of the Ireland football team.

On Tuesday afternoon, as the rain poured incessantly from the heavens, Trap held court once again in the ballroom of the Grand Hotel in Malahide on the eve of the World Cup clash with Cyprus.

It was an afternoon's entertainment befitting of a grand room to be fair as Trap meandered from one topic to another, all the time reminding us that his only interest in life is winning football matches with the Irish team.

A day earlier he had looked somewhat rather more bemused when the subject of Andy Reid was raised just down the road at Gannon Park, permanent home to Malahide United and temporary training ground home for the Irish team when they're in town.

One Sunday paper last weekend had suggested that Trapattoni and the Sunderland midfielder Reid had been involved in a difference of opinion on the night of the Ireland-Georgia game in Germany last month.

On Monday the Irish media wanted to know more as the Reid tale served as the backdrop to Wednesday night's revenge mission against the Cypriots at Croker.

The story, substantiated in at least one Tuesday morning paper, goes that Trap and Reid swapped words and almost came to blows as the night turned to morning in Weisbaden with Reid, a more than useful musician, leading the traditional Irish sing song in the team hotel.

Interestingly, Trap didn't deny the story at any stage on Monday, nor did he mention it all on Tuesday afternoon as the skies opened over Malahide and the rest of the country.

Instead he admitted that he sometimes loses patience with players, that he can become infuriated and that he understands if star names want to play for their country and get upset when they don't.

Throughout his brief reign to date Trap has also made it clear that he sees Reid, yet to play a minute under the Italian before Wednesday's game against Cyprus, as a front player to play off Kevin Doyle, almost an understudy for Robbie Keane.

On Tuesday he didn't say as much but his actions confirmed it when Trap called Darron Gibson, yet to play a full game for Manchester United this season, into the team to play the Cypriots.

That decision suggests that Reid is even further down the line in terms of a first team place than we thought.

We already knew that Steven Reid, Glenn Whelan, Liam Miller and Andy Keogh were ahead of Trap's eyes before Tuesday's team selection, and he suggested this week that both Gibson and Keith Andrews were also further up the pecking order.

Which leaves Reid -- and exile Lee Carsley -- as about seventh and eighth choice for the center of Trap's midfield, and that's without even a mention for Stephen Ireland.

It is indeed a hot topic in some circles right now.

As the rest of the country debated the Irish Budget on Tuesday, those of us who write nonsense about football for a living were deep in conversation about the Reid situation in that Grand Hotel in Malahide.

All of us were agreed that Reid is the new David O'Leary, who was infamously frozen out by Jack Charlton for so many years.

We also agreed that this is a results business. If Trap keeps the World Cup dream alive then the nation, in bad need of a post-Budget lift, won't worry too much about Reid or his whereabouts.

Nor will we care too much about Trap's view that the world's current economic crisis is down to "America's crazy, crazy finances," as he bizarrely suggested in the middle of Tuesday's press conference.

International football, like a good budget, is all about results. The jury is still out on Trap's team -- and the Budget! Time will tell in both cases.

Will Loughnane Rise Again?

THE great Ger Loughnane has never been afraid to put his mouth in where it hurts, a trait that has served him well over the years.

As Clare manager in the breakthrough All-Ireland year of 1995 Loughnane had the belief in his convictions to tell anyone prepared to listen that his team were going to win the McCarthy Cup.

Many doubted him that summer, but not Loughnane and not the finest generation of hurlers that Clare has ever produced.

When the experts said Clare would lose to Offaly in the All-Ireland final that year Loughnane dismissed them with the same utter belief he has instilled in his team.

When an RTE reporter asked Loughnane if his team could still win as they trailed by two points the manager defiantly said, "We're going to do it."

Clare did, of course, as Loughnane became a hero as he wiped out the curse of Biddy Earley.

Success brought adulation in his native country, but Loughnane's bravado and confidence bordering on the arrogant didn't sit well with all hurling fans before he eventually left the Clare job to others at the turn of the century.

Loughnane was never going to be away from the game for long.

His opinionated views of the game had also won him many admirers in RTE television, who turned Loughnane into one of their finest studio analysts until the Galway job came calling two summers ago.