|Giovanni Trapattoni looks on as his team
loses to Germany in Dublin on Friday night
The squad arrived in the provincial Japanese town in the immediate aftermath of the Saipan affair and they were a little bit cautious about the outside world.
Imagine their surprise then when the team bus pulled away from the hotel and hundreds of Japanese fans held their phones up in the air.
The players didn’t know what was going on. As Mick tells it, they asked each other were they trying to get a better signal on their cell phones, or were they trying to listen in to what was being said on the Irish bus.
The truth, as they subsequently discovered and had a good laugh about, was that those Japanese fans were trying to take photos of the Ireland players on their camera phones.
Said camera phones hadn’t made it outside the land of technology at that stage, and the Irish players had no idea what they were.
By the end of the World Cup campaign they were well used to camera phones having posed for countless photos along the way.
Today camera phones and social media are the norm. They are part of parcel of modern life and modern football.
It wasn’t always like this, though. Jack Charlton never had to bother with social media. The only tweets in his time as Ireland manager came from the birds on the side of the riverbank when he was out fishing.
Mick’s social media skills were confined to text messages and an increasing Internet presence. Brian Kerr and then Steve Staunton took charge of the national team at a time when the Irish public were really starting to embrace social media.
A player could happily go for a pint with a teammate or with the fans, more often than not with both, in Jack’s time and nobody was any the wiser.
By the Kerr and Staunton eras, the players and the management couldn’t step out of the team hotel without photos and stories appearing on the Internet in various guises.
Today Twitter is king. As soon as a goal is scored it is out there on Twitter. As soon as a celebrity steps outside his or her door, never mind out of line, it is public knowledge.
Twitter is the bush telegraph of the modern age. And it is a fascinating tool to gauge public opinion on the key issues of the day.
There is only one issue of the day today as far as Irish sports fans are concerned – today and every day this past week.
Ireland’s footballers put up the white flag at the Aviva Stadium last Friday night as Germany, the nation famous for throwing down towels on sun loungers, coasted to a 6-1 victory in the World Cup qualifiers.
That’s the fourth defeat in Ireland’s last five competitive games, coming after the appalling losses to Croatia, Spain and Italy at the Euros.
It is, probably, also the last defeat of the Giovanni Trapattoni era.
Trap’s time with us is done, albeit saying that ahead of Tuesday night’s game away to the Faroe Islands has in the middle of the North Sea.
Not even a win in Torshavn can save him now. A dispute with the mild mannered Stephen Kelly on Sunday, after fall-outs with Darron Gibson, James McClean and Kevin Foley in the recent past to name just three, served only to prove that Trapattoni has lost his players.
He has also lost the public. He came out fighting on Tuesday, as you will read elsewhere on these pages, but the truth is he is waiting on the FAI and benefactor Denis O’Brien to make him an offer he can’t refuse.
Already the talk is of Trap’s successor, with everyone from Harry Redknapp to Owen Coyle, Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane already in the frame.
In the meantime the FAI have a friendly against Greece at the Aviva in November to look forward to. If Trapattoni is still in charge by then they will be lucky to get a few thousand fans into the debt ridden stadium.
That’s the real reason why the FAI will discharge themselves of their manager this week. They can no longer afford to keep Trap, not even with Denis O’Brien’s financial clout.
The performances at the Euros should have been enough to end his reign. The ineptitude of Ireland’s tactical effort against Germany last week was the final proof that he is a past master whose methods belong in the past.
If you don’t believe, consider the tweets.
Here’s the damning evidence provided by Irish Sun readers on Monday when asked time if Trap’s time was up:
Colm Brosnan @ColmBrosnan
@IrishSunSport Yes. Not dedicated at all. So many players that should be starting/in the squad. Would rather Coyle, McCarthy or Redknapp.
Aidan Walsh @aidanwalsh
@IrishSunSport Trap must go he’s hasn’t been open to new younger players coming in and has ignored established players like Andy Reid.
Stephen Pollard @StephenQPFC
@IrishSunSport Yes, ideas are outdated, his loyalty to players like Keane are unfair to players like Long and Clark. He can’t handle media.
Sharon Carroll @Sharondublin1
@IrishSunSport I don’t think he should have got a new contract before the Euros . He has lost the dressing room McCarthy or Harry R 4 me.
As the tweets say, Trap, it is time to go. Goodnight and God bless.
(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)
GAA: Last week we told you of the incredible gesture by Derry’s All-Ireland winner Joe Brolly who donated a kidney to his friend Shane Finnegan. Alas comes news this week that the kidney has been rejected by Shane’s body, the third time he has experienced such an outcome. Both Joe and Shane, while devastated by the news, have confirmed their support for organ donation. If nothing else, Joe’s unbelievable act has raised awareness.
GAA: Former Dublin boss Pat Gilroy has emerged as a new shareholder in the Kerry-based Dingle Brewing Company, an independent beer maker making waves in Ireland right now. Maybe Pat had to give up his links to the Dublin team before he could sign up for a business venture in the Kingdom. Unlike other Dublin-Kerry tie-ups, this could be a match made in heaven for all concerned!
GAA: News emerged on Tuesday that the Clare County Board want to talk to Mick O’Dwyer about taking over their senior football team at the age of 76. Having listened to him on the radio recently there is no doubt Micko is as enthusiastic as ever, but we have a bit of a problem with 70-plus managers in Ireland right now – as soccer fans will tell you.
SOCCER: It seems like Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane are never going to be rid of each other. No sooner had Giovanni Trapattoni come under pressure after that dreadful performance against Germany on Friday night than Mick and Roy were linked with the Ireland job. They’ve also been linked as rivals for the vacancies at Blackburn, Bolton and Burnley in England. Maybe they could job share!
RACING: What a day it was for the jockey Richard Hughes on Monday as the Irish rider recorded a magnificent seven wins on the flat at Windsor. The odds on such a coup were a massive 10,5680 to one or thereabouts. Maybe Enda Kenny could have thrown a few bob on Richard and wiped out the national debt!
SOCCER: The experience of many days and nights at the Showgrounds tells me that Sligo Rovers fans will be celebrating their first league title win in 35 years for many more weeks and months and good luck to them. The Bit O’Red were the best team in the league all season and they deserve the honor.
HERO OF THE WEEK
THE Ulster brigade have tended to dominate the Irish golfing headlines of late, so it was brilliant to see Shane Lowry fly the flag for the south with his win at the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura on Sunday. The big man made a splash as an amateur when he won the Irish Open at Baltray and now, at last, he has a professional title and a very big check in the bag as well. He’s a great young man and a very good golfer. Well done Shane.
IDIOT OF THE WEEK
A CO. Louth pensioner is taking the GAA to Ireland’s High Court in a bid to get the result of the 2010 Leinster football final overturned. He is still perplexed by Joe Sheridan’s late goal, which we all admit was illegal, but he really needs to get over it. Louth couldn’t beat Meath on the field of play that day and they won’t beat them in a court of law. Get on with your life!