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The Presumptive Minute By Minute Coverage Of Tonight's Game In Lille

The Presumptive Minute By Minute Coverage Of Tonight's Game In Lille
By Conor Neville
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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Ireland's do or die clash with Italy in Lille tonight. It's last chance saloon for the boys in green. Win tonight or they pack up, go home, and the fans have to drift back to Ireland, no more videos of Irish supporters indulging in dangerous levels of craic down in France.

We pause for the Angelus.

First off the press conferences.

Press conferences: 

Antonio Conte tells the press conference that he has the height of respect for Ireland.

We know exactly what awaits us tonight. When you play Ireland you know you are in for a hard physical battle. They never give anything less than 100%. Tough. Strong in the air. Good from set pieces. Long looping balls. High balls. Balls in the air. Physical. Never say die. Long crosses into the box. High in the air.  

Asked who he feared the most, Conte had no hesitation in citing their striker Kyle Lafferty.

When you look at their history, you have to have respect for them. I remember when they beat Spain in '82. Amazing stuff. So many great players. David Healy, Norman Whiteside, and, of course, the Fifth Beatle himself, George Best.

Martin O'Neill's press conference descended into confusion at one stage when he attempted a joke about James McCarthy. There was 12 seconds of bemused silence before Martin O'Neill informed everyone that what he had just said was in fact a joke. This admission was followed by a few seconds of tentative, half-hearted laughter.



And we're off! From the kick-off Seamus Coleman has a speculative attempt on goal from all of 48 yards. It sails over the bar.

4 mins: 


Ireland start with plenty of the ball. The view is tentatively advanced by several individuals operating across a range of social media platforms that Italians are not what one might be inclined to term great shakes.

7 mins: 

The Irish fans premiere their new chant 'Liberté, Egalité, John O'Shea' in honour of their big defender who is sitting on the bench and may well have already played his last game for Ireland.


19 mins: 

Having been a model of restraint for the first eighteen minutes, James McClean picks up a yellow card for a bone-crunching challenge on Thiago Motta.

The Italian commentators are apoplectic that it was only deemed a yellow card.


Motta has to leave the field injured.

22 mins: 

Chance for Italy as James McCarthy is caught ball watching allowing his man to ghost into the box. Fortunately, Sturaro's header comes careering off the post.


30 mins: 

On half an hour, the verdict is that Ireland are doing well. Emmet Malone is cagily optimistic that we are holding our own. Liam Mackey says it reminds him very much of Palermo 1990.

Independent.ie's new columnist Carla Romera says the Irish fans have been amazing.


Eamon Dunphy laments that we're not putting our foot in the ball and dictating the play in the middle. Reminds us once more that James McCarthy isn't half the man that any one of Henry Shefflin, Ruby Walsh, Willie Mullins, Aidan O'Brien or Briege Corkery are.

53 mins: 

Disaster for Ireland as James McClean receives a second yellow card for a shuddering challenge on Ciro Immobile. The Italian crowd alternatively jeer and cheer. That's Ireland down to ten men.

54 mins: 

Amazingly, James McClean is playing on. No one seems to have noticed that he's been handed a second yellow card! This is Graham Poll all over again. The Italian commentators are in an absolute frenzy. Giovanni Trapattoni has used every word under the sun.

Meanwhile, Immobile has gone off injured.


67 mins:

The camera zooms in on an Irish flag bearing the message 'That would be an ecumenical matter'. No one quite knows what it means but it becomes extremely popular on facebook.

The consensus appears to be that the message is 'GAS!'

71 mins: 

Ireland living on their nerves here. One of the few remaining fit and well Italian attackers, Simone Zaza goes close after James McCarthy lost his man at the near post.

79 mins: 

Farcical scenes here as James McClean is booked for a third time. He steams in with a dangerous tackle on Simone Zaza. Once more, he remains on the pitch.

Graham Poll's blunder will now become a footnote in the history of international competition.

Zaza has to go off injured.

82 mins: 

Wes Hoolahan is called ashore (fatigue) and Daryl Murphy is introduced. The Irish supporters groan.

85 mins: 

The camera zooms in on an Irish supporter wearing an Offaly jersey.

Hector O'Heochagain and RoryStories immediately start tweeting about Seamus Darby. The tone could justifiably be described as folksy.

A former columnist with Hot Press in the 1980s asked what the hell are those 'bog jerseys' doing in France. Says it's enough to make you want Ireland to lose.

90 mins:

Referee signals four minutes of injury time. Martin O'Neill looks both concerned and jumpy on the edge of his technical area.

93 mins: 

George Hamilton winds up to deliver his valedictory words:

Well, the damage was done in Bordeaux, but at least if Ireland are to go out, at least it's on a night where they gave it a proper go. And that at least is some consolation on what has been a bitter night for Irish footba ... chance here!!!!

94 mins: 




James McClean gets to the byline and whips in a cross, Bonucci attempts to head the ball clear but it only loops into the air, and Daryl Murphy untethers an incredible overhead kick which flies into the net.

It is immediately compared to Ronnie Whelan's strike, even right down to the claims that it was a shinner.


1994 revisited as Ireland beat Italy 1-0. Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane are tearing across the pitch in search of players to hug. Daryl Murphy has been buried under a mountain of white shirts. John Delaney is in a state of delirium.

The Irish fans chant about James McClean, the man who can't be sent off.

Issue in the tunnel: 

Reports of an incident in the officials area. According to Miguel Delaney on twitter, John Delaney is after laying out Silvio Berlusconi with a punch.

There are rumours that Berlusconi made a pass Delaney's partner Emma English.

More to follow: 

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