No World Cup for poor Ireland, and it happened in typical fashion: in the second leg of a two-match "tie" (soccer terminology) with France, winner goes to South Africa, they scored a pivotal away goal to even the series. 90 minutes passed, and the match went into extra time. If it reached 120 minutes with neither team scoring a goal, it would have gone to penalty kicks (I think). But in the 103rd minute, French striker Thierry Henry received a pass and sent it across the box, where it was headed in by William Gallas. Two problems:
1) The French were offsides.
2) More pressingly, Henry used his hand to corral the ball before touching it on. This, in soccer, is against the rules.
But the goal counted, the Irish couldn't answer, and France made the World Cup by an aggregate 2-1 score.
I love this line from the article:
They (the Irish) exit the tournament with their dignity intact, though...
Of course they do! This is Ireland! You don't think they expected something like this? Here's an actual 'thought diary' of every Irish fan and player, taken straight from the extra session:
102nd minute: Hmmm, this is strange...at the moment, it seems as though we have a fair shot to win this match, and God and fate aren't conspiring to keep our people miserable, subjected, and second-class...
103rd minute: Ah, there we are.
This result should not surprise anyone. The Irish have been on the wrong side of history since the Vikings started getting curious about other people's things in the 8th century (see highly accurate illustration above). They continued getting screwed by the British, by Irish-Protestants, by extremist Irish-Catholics, and by their own potatoes. Then they sent all their people to America, where the established folks (former Brits, of course) thought it was a good idea to start a political party specifically to keep them from power (see: Know-Nothings) because they thought that instead of being poor and desperate, the Irish were actually sinister agents of the Pope. Later, the good guys found a foothold in the country and actually had a president elected. He got shot. Now the Irish line has become diluted all over America, except in Boston where the lovely lilting accent has been corrupted into some loud, yawping monstrosity, and all the people root for the wrong baseball team.
SO YEAH, WORLD, NOT ONLY DID WE FUCKING EXPECT THAT RESULT, WE EXPECTED HENRY TO ACTUALLY CATCH THE BALL, CARRY IT INTO THE GOAL, AND KICK THE GOALIE IN THE NUTS WHILE THE REFEREES HAD TEA WITH MARGARET THATCHER AND THE LINE JUDGE BURNED THE IRISH FLAG.
You'll notice I said "we" in the above paragraph, as though I'm Irish. Let me be clear: Team USA is my squad. I'm only Irish in the sense that a million other Americans are Irish, which is to say very little; some of our forebears came over from the country four or five generations ago, our blood has been mixed with various other tribes, and we've either never been to Ireland or visited for very short periods, but our homes are covered in Celtic trinkets, we get over-excited on St. Patrick's Day, we still have Irish last names, and there's a weird affinity with the motherland surpassed only by our Jewish brothers and sisters.
So I'm kinda pissed. Also, I didn't actually watch the game because it was during work. Also, I like Henry because a friend of mine when I studied abroad (IN DUBLIN!) got me rooting for Arsenal, and he was their stud at the time. So, whatever. But still, man. Erin go friggin' Bragh.
Other quick items:
*I'm sort of looking forward to this weekend's Jets-Patriots game in the way that a weirdo looks forward to a car wreck. Not only is Belichick pissed off about last week, and not only does he have an asshole's proclivity for running up the score; nope, he's also steamed at Rex Ryan for acting like the early Jets win over New England heralded the coming of a new glory. And now the Jets look like crap, and the Pats look pretty awesome. This might be the first time an NFL football team scores 100 points in a game.
*I may go scout the enemy tonight. #4 UNC plays #15 Ohio State and #24 Syracuse plays #12 California in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden. I'll be sure to hurl some invective at Roy Williams from the cheap seats.
That's it for now. Still thinking about Nolan Smith's performance from Tuesday. Still pleased.
Here's the video of the blatant hand ball, which may be removed at any point due to copyright restrictions: