By Ciaran O Raghallaigh
NOBODY died, and yet there was a funereal feel at Ireland’s training camp in Gdynia this afternoon.
Training was lacklustre, ensconced in that morning after the night before feel you usually associate with the after affects of a good party.
Except there had been no party.
You could have been forgiven for seeking out the stash of empty beer cans, as many of the players lounged around on the grass like hungover students in the sun drenched Arka stadium.
Most of those who featured in the Spanish humiliation sat out training, instead sitting around the pitch, watching as others passed and scored with ease.
Same as last night so.
This was the kind of day every Ireland fan feared. That awkward feeling when you’re out of the tournament with one game left to play.
There’s nothing left now but pride. Yet still, oddly, the team practiced penalties near the end of the session. God loves a trier.
Robbie Keane walked around with his head bowed, while the only smiles were an occasional nod from Marco Tardelli to the Italian media hovering like vultures around the carcass of Trapattoni’s team.
Straight from Giovanni’s Trap
The boss was not as enthusiastic as usual, but then again how could he be?
As he entered the press conference room, however, we all knew he’d be roused from him slumber.
“I have to ask you,” he said, “how much value do you give this team for reaching the euros?”
The implicit answer was clear – you lot obviously haven’t given us enough credit.
“I know how much I do, I am proud to come here with this team and this players,” he added. And he plans to stay around too.
“I think that we deserve to stay on,” he argued, “the reason is we have achieved qualification for the first time in 24 years.
“If you read the names of the squad when we came (and read the names in the squad now), you can see how many players we have brought into this team.
I think it is our right (to stay on). I have enthusiasm to stay.”
Trap plans to make a couple of changes for the Italy game on Monday night, but it’s unlikely to be enough to earn a point, if things continue as they have.
In fact, he’d be best served by getting the entire team to lump on Italy to score inside five minutes, and let them enjoy what’s left of the summer.
“When we start again (next season), you will see the new faces,” he said, without giving anything else away.
“There are one, two or three names on the books.
“We will start again, but we cannot change all. In Italy we change four or five players, but not here.”
A couple of other points were raised. Did you make mistakes? Was your system at fault?
“When a team lose, only the manager is to blame,” he said, before adding an immediate caveat that pointed the finger at his players.
“But also, we conceded a goal after two minutes and thirty seconds against Croatia, and again a goal after four minutes against Spain.
“You give the advantage to a strong team, and then it becomes very difficult. This happened with Croatia and happened again against Spain.
“Our players don’t have the habit of playing in a tournament like this. We had an attitude in our games that I have not seen in two years (of qualifying).”
And what of Roy Keane’s quotes? Fair comment or just a bitter Corkman?
“He was a great player, he obtained great results as a player,” Trap conceded, “but what is he now? He is or isn’t a coach? He should just focus to get results as a coach.”