Date: 11 October 2020
Competition: UEFA Nation’s League, League B, Group 4
Result: Ireland 0 – 0 Wales
Tickets: Not available to the public (entry via press pass)
Attendance: circa 50 press.
The game: It’s a really quite surreal experience watching international football from a socially distanced press box, fully masked, far enough from the other journalists in attendance to make a conversation almost impossible. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a game quite so quietly, chomping away on the free crisps and sandwiches and watching the action unfold far below, yet still hearing every word the players shout at each other.
I reviewed the game in full here if you’re tempted to read up; it wasn’t a classic, with Ireland hampered by corona withdrawals ahead of the game, especially up front. In truth, in going to almost every Ireland hme game for the last 3 or 4 years, I’ve only seen a couple that I really thought were great entertainment. They should probably have won, however, with Wales – despite the presence of the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Daniel James – offering precious little. I quite like the look of Ireland under Stephen Kenny. It’s a far better style of passing, attacking football that’s actually really quite pleasant to watch, if frustratingly inefficient at the sharp end. Hopefully, the results will come.
I’m a fan of the Aviva, a modern, bedpan-like stadium with a weird low end to account for a lighting dispute with some neighbours in leafy, posh Dublin 4. It’s a solid modern football stadium, with almost every seat offering a decent view (yes, I’ve been just about enough times to check), and generates plenty of noise when it matters (the play off game against Denmark a couple of years back, for example, was manic, at least for as long as Ireland were in the game).
It’s arguably better known as a rugby stadium, in part because the football team haven’t been all that great for quite a while now, but it’s a nice spot to visit. More so when the fans are in and the walk to the game takes on a ritual, lively feel.
Extras: On this day, nothing more than that free sandwich. Usually, it’s all mod cons.
Assorted asides: Football isn’t really football without fans, is it? Still, getting into this is something of a collector’s item, I’m grateful to the FAI who’ve allowed me to be a regular in the press box for home games for a couple of years now.
My totals for the year so far:
Games: 5. Home wins: 1. Draws: 4.
Goals: 13. Home goals: 7. Away goals: 6. Goals per game: 2.6
A few pics: