Competition: European Championship Qualifying.

Date: 10 September 2023

Result: Ireland 1 – 2 The Netherlands

Tickets:  Included in season tickets, but works out at about €45 for an adult and a kid.

Attendance: 49,807

Game/ Experience Rating:  ☆☆☆

The Game: There’s a sense of inevitability around Ireland at the moment. I’m a strong defender of Stephen Kenny’s attempts to play decent football with what is overall a pretty weak group of players (especially absent Evan Ferguson, as tonight), but there’s also a naivety that’s somewhat depressing.

It’s shown a fair bit tonight. After some fantastic Ireland pressure in the opening 15 minutes and the Dutch looking genuinely rattled for a short time, Ireland led 1-0 through a penalty resulting from a fairly obvious handball. The Dutch came back when Gavin Bazunu was forced to fly out of goal and took out a Dutch forward, but for much of the first half, Ireland were at least competitive.

In the second half, though, there was only one winner, and Wout Weghorst eventually slammed in for a 2-1 Netherlands win, something that late Irish posession made all the more frustrating as it resulted in so little in the way of attacking intent. Kenny might be on his last legs. Though the losses to France and The Netherlands are far from shocking given the quality disparity, he’s simply unable to adapt strategy to the situation.

The ground:  I have mixed feelings about the national stadium. Great views and a decent design, but annoying to get to (we found a slighty better way to park this time, wihch I won’t promote for obvious reasons, but it’s always awkward), with poor service and ridiculous prices. True of the most corporate end of football everywhere, I suppose.

Extras: Programmes, limited and overpriced food and drinks. The Aviva usual.

Assorted asides: Dutch fans seems a whole lot of fun. From forming a ‘bus’ (a kind of vibrant dance-march) to the stadium, to the chatty woman outside the ground who handed my son a pair of orange glasses to remember her by, the nicest bunch of away fans I think I’ve come across. I suppose they did win!

My totals for the year so far:

Games: 19. Home wins: 11 Draws: 4 Away wins: 4

Goals: 54. Home goals: 35. Away goals: 19. Goals per game: 2.84



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