We like our liveblogs around here. And with no games ’til Friday in Poland and Ukraine, we’ve fired up the Delorean and have travelled back in time to watch Ireland’s third group game of Euro ’88. Join us as we see if Jack’s Army can get the point they need against the Dutch in Gelsenkirchen.
Full-time: Ireland 0 Holland 0
19.42 – Good evening, and welcome to Gelsenkirchen! (We may not be in Gelsenkirchen). We’re just settling in for the mouth-watering meeting of tournament first-timers, Ireland and the much-fancied and star-studded Dutch. It’s Jack Charlton’s men who are in the driving seat however having beaten the English thanks to a Ray Houghton header and then drawing – unluckily – with the Russians. A draw today will see them through.
Holland? Well, having lost to Russia, the likes of Van Basten, Guillet et al must win to stay in Germany.
19.48 – With current pop smash “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” by Billy Ocean currently winding up on the tannoy, we’re moments away form kick-off. Man, that guy is cool. In the meantime, here are your teams…
Ireland: Packie Bonner, Chris Morris, Mick McCarthy, Kevin Moran, Chris Hughton, Ray Houghton, Paul McGrath, Ronnie Whelan, Tony Galvin, Frank Stapleton (captain), John Aldridge.
Holland: Hans van Breukelen, Adri van Tiggele, Ronald Koeman, Berry van Aerle, Frank Rijkaard, Jan Wouters, Gerald Vanenburg, Arnold Muhren, Erwin Koeman, Ruud Gullit (captain), Marco van Basten.
19.54 – Ireland’s first possession sees Ray Houghton get on the ball in the right back position and play it forward to Frank Stapleton. The former Arsenal and Man Utd striker rolls the ball backwards casually and the Irish win a throw, which they then waste.
Interestingly, Guillet has started right at the front with a panicky-looking Chris Hughton bellowing at his defenders to get back and cover.
One reader, Emmet Ryan, tweets to say: “I’d be wary of that Koeman lad.” A rising star, eh?
19.58 – The stadium — ‘in the Ruhr valley’ as geography teacher, John Motson drones — looks to be mostly orange but it’s the Irish who are making themselves heard. John Aldridge looked to have his sight on goal when the ball broke on the edge of the box, but that lad Koeman tucked in and spirited away with the ball at his feet. As I type, Pat Bonner has his hands warmed for the first time by a dipping van Tiggele shot, which is behind for a corner. This is pretty open so far.
20.01 – I think I may have mis-spelled Ruud Gullit’s name earlier, but it’s not as if he’s the current European and World Footballer of the year, right? Well, he just played a diagonal ball like you would’t believe over 40 yards to Vanenburg, which he miscontrolled and his rushed shot was then blocked by one Paul McGrath.
20.05 – John Motson is pronouncing ‘Moran’ correctly’. Was there a catastrophic event, much like that which wiped out the dinosaurs, after 1988 which caused English commentators to start saying Mor-anne? As I type, Paul McGrath (also pronounced adequately, John) had a really good header, from a corner, come off the post and then blocked on the line! Unbelievable. Ireland would’ve had one foot in the semis.
20.17 – Pictures are starting to drop in from our friends at Inpho. Don’t ask me how, ‘cos the internet hasn’t been invented yet. Here’s Gullit and Chris Hughton in action.
As It type, Bonner was flat footed in the centre of his goal as Erwin Koeman arrived to dart a header just wide of the far post. That’s a massive let off. Jack Charlton rubs the top of his head.
20.21 – Ireland have sprung the offside trap a couple of times now with big Frank Stapleton especially looking lively. The Dubliner caused more damage just now with a looping header over the keeper Hans van Breukelen which left Berry van Aerle after the aerial duel.
20.34 – Breaking news: Ruud Gullit is an amazing player. ‘He defied the laws of geometry’ says Motson, after the AC Milan man gets a lovely cross in, despite being pegged into the corner by Moran and the hard-working Tony Galvin. The Dutch are ‘fluent and deadly’ says Jimmy Greaves through his moustache.
20.39 – Half-time: The ref blows it up with the Dutch in possession and Jack Charlton will be quite happy with that. If things stay as they are Ireland will be staying on, but they’ve lived a charmed life at times. Any predictions out there? We’re going to get the kettle on, keep the competition answers coming, with your postal address please.
20.55 – And we’re up and running once again. This is going to be nervy. Reader Ferg writes in the comments: “0-0 at half time. Do we hold out for a draw or go for the win? I’m guessing we trust our stellar defence and go for a draw and maybe nick one on the counter. I think a draw will get us a game against Italy in the semi’s. I’d rather them than West Germany!”
What do you think?
As for changes? Well, Chris Morris has not reemerged, having shipped a knock to the head late in the first period. Paul McGrath looks to have slotted in at right full back and Kevin Sheedy is into midfield. Not a bad man to come off the bench.
21.07 – Galvin shoots into the side netting as he bombs forward for one of the first times this afternoon. We need more of that. It’s interesting to note that every time the balls runs out of play the Dutch are haring after it and pressing the tempo. They know — obviously — it’s score or go home time. ‘Citing.
21.25 – The German director again flashes to a scribbling, dapper Beckenbauer. His West Germany side have already made it to the semi-finals of course. you can never write them off. Ireland are very much under the cosh, as is the vernacular, at the moment. But with 16 minutes to go now, we’re almost there. If Charlie Haughey isn’t here, by the way, someone tell him to book a flight for the semis before the price goes up. I’m sure the Taoiseach doesn’t like wasting our money
21.29 – Dutch substitution: Jon Bosman in for Arnold Muhren. That’s not the same Jo.. never mind. As I type, Ray Houghton just danced in from the right wing and then scuffed a shot wide of the post. He kneels on the turf looking sky-wars. If he’d kept his composure and scored there, the legendary Rinus Michels would be on the road home. 10 minutes left now.
21.35 – Deary me! With just eight minutes or so on the clock, the Dutch score at last. So how did we get here? Yet another Dutch cross came into the Irish box to be met — again — by Paul McGrath. His clearance dropped to Ronald Koeman, whose volley bounced of the ground like the Tipp hurlers of old. Wim Kieft got his head to it and it spun past a stranded Bonner. Jack sends on Cascarino in the stead of Stapleton.
“It’s not the look of the Irish,” says Greaves, “it’s the luck of the Dutch.” Even more infuriatingly, Van Basten was offside!
Ireland manager Jack Charlton congratulates Netherlands manager Rinus Michels. Pic: INPHO/Billy Stickland
So Ireland head home thanks to a late goal that had more spin on it than an Allaister Campbell press release* and with the best striker on planet Earth standing in an offside position, in front of Packie Bonner. The Ireland fans are singing as loud as ever, however, and will head home having made plenty of new friends. It feels like the start of something for them and this team of ours.
Thanks for your company tonight. We’ll pick a winner for the jersey competition tonight and will email them with details immediately. Join us tomorrow when we’ll back the time machine into Genoa for Ireland v Romania. A nation holds it’s breath.
* Anachronistic political reference