This from Brucey,
The inglorious exit, the players’ strike, Nicolas Anelka’s expulsion from the squad and the utter humiliation of Raymond Domenech.
Come on, Ireland. It is time to confess. Have you all been sticking pins into a French voodoo doll?
Probably not. After all, the focus of Irish anger and fury towards the French has been on Thierry Henry ever since he used his left hand – twice – to change the course of last November’s World Cup play-off in Paris and steer France to South Africa.
In a World Cup when the French brought us a new definition of ‘meltdown,’ Henry appeared to get off lightly. No scandal, no controversy, no starts.
Ireland will have enjoyed the almost daily crises endured by the French, however. Bitterness still runs deep as a result of Henry’s goal because it denied Giovanni Trapattoni’s team the chance to play in South Africa.
Had Henry not made his now infamous contribution, the game was set to go to penalties anyway, so Ireland might have suffered the same fate, but from the penalty spot instead.
Still, it happened and, as Declan Lynch’s excellent book Days of Heaven suggests, it gave the Irish good cause to play the conspiracy card in order to ease the pain.
Just as in Brussels in 1981, when Frank Stapleton’s goal against Belgium was chalked off by a Portuguese referee for no good reason, Henry’s goal denied Ireland World Cup qualification.
So in the absence of the Boys in Green in South Africa, Irish eyes have turned to France.
The Irish press pack in South Africa have not hidden their delight in French misery. In truth, their English colleagues have relished the sight of Domenech and his French players being harangued by the Irish over the merits of their qualification for the tournament.
Domenech has repeatedly ducked the ‘Irish question’ while Patrice Evra, prior to ‘le meltdown,’ even stopped to ask – with a half-smile on his face – why the Irish pack would not leave the French alone.
The Irish boys bear no malice and they are only serving the appetite of their nation for bad news from the French camp.
There has been plenty of it, but witnessing the French tear themselves apart has been no consolation for actually being here in South Africa.
Had Ireland squeezed past France in Paris to take their place at the World Cup, they would have fancied their chances of joining Uruguay in the last 16.
They would have brought supporters in their thousands, boosting Fifa’s coffers as a result, and South Africa would have been a better place for their presence.
But if Ireland had qualified, it would have denied us one of the greatest stories in the history of the World Cup.
Roy Keane’s Saipan bust-up with Mick McCarthy in 2002 takes some beating, but France managed it.
Right, come on midnight – England vs Slovenia…