Football’s folklore

Argentina 2-1 England – 1986 World Cup Quarter-Final

Few individuals have ever stood out at the World Cup quite like Diego Maradona did in 1986. This game in particular saw not only one of the greatest ever goals in the tournaments history, but also one of the most controversial.

Maradona gave his side the lead in the 51st minute courtesy of this infamous goal. England’s Steve Hodge miskicked a clearance which managed to float into the box, supposedly meeting the head of the oppositions star man. English players and management were furious when the goal was allowed, feeling he could not have beaten the significantly taller Peter Shilton in the air without the use of his hand. This proved to be the case as photographic evidence hit televisions and newspapers across the world, a goal since dubbed “The Hand of God”, or perhaps as then England manager Bobby Robson put it, “The Hand of a rascal.”

Maradona's Hand of God goal

Maradona’s Hand of God goal

Three minutes later, Maradona doubled Argentina’s lead with the “The Goal of the Century” when he bombed forward from his own half, skipping past five England players, including the goalkeeper, before slotting home. Normally, a goal of this quality would be the highlight of any game, but almost 27 years later, the goal that broke the deadlock remains the biggest talking point of this quarter-final.
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League of Ireland 2013 Preview – Part Two

With only days remaining to the League of Ireland 2013 season, Alan Finn, Kevin Galvin, and Robert O’Reardon, continue their three-part preview. In this piece, they look at Drogheda United, who finished last season in an incredibly-impressive second place, Dundalk, who almost went bust in the middle of last season but are now back with a good squad and new manager Stephen Kenny, Limerick FC, who boast by far the most impressive stadium in the league and will provide many talking points, and Shamrock Rovers, who’ve again made their off-season marquee signings and will be hoping for a much improved season after last season’s awful display.

Drogheda United will be hoping to push on from last season’s fantasic campaign, whereas Shamrock Rovers will be looking to seriously improve

Drogheda United

Last season was a fairy tale for Drogheda United. At the start of the year, they were tipped as relegation candidates, by the end of October they were runners up in the League, EA Sports Cup title holders and secured a place in next season’s Europa League. Mick Cooke goes into the season having retained the bulk of his squad and has made a few additions to his squad, most notably the highly rated Paul O’Conor from UCD. Should he click with influential captain Eric Foley, the Drogs midfield will be a joy to watch next year. I think Drogheda will enjoy another impressive League campaign and I can see them winning one Cup competition again.

Alan Finn Read the rest of this entry »


League of Ireland 2013 preview – Part One

Bohemians

After narrowly missing out on a Setanta Cup place on the last day of last season, the aim for Aaron Callaghan’s side will surely be to go one better this season. Like the previous two seasons at Dalymount Park, a lack of finances has frustrated whoever the manager has been as they attempted to attract players to the club. But, what has been different from the previous two seasons is that there hasn’t been a mass exodus of players and the former Crusaders manager will have the majority of last season’s squad to work with.

Karl Moore (left) will be important for Bohs this season, while Keith Ward’s (center) creativity will be a loss

There have been some departures, however. Last season’s excellent centre back partnership have decided to move on to new pastures with Evan McMillan heading west to join champions Sligo Rovers and Kevin Feely heading across the Irish sea to join Charlton Athletic.

Stephen Paisley has been brought in to replace them and strikers Chris Lyons and Darragh Hanaphy have been recruited to help ease the goal scoring burden which was a main problem for the Gypsies last season. If they carry their 100% pre season record into the new season then you wouldn’t bet against Aaron Callaghan and his boys breaking into the top four this season.

Robert O’Reardon

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Europa League Returns to Ireland Pt. II

So it’s to the third round of qualifying for the competition! Two more tie wins and the Europa League Group Stage beckons for these sides. St. Pats, who overcame IBV are playing, but first it’s to Sligo Rovers’ opposition, Spartak Trnava! This preview can also be seen here and was written by BOIP’s very own Alan Finn!

Name:FC Spartak Trnava
Stadium: Štadión Antona Malatinského (18,448)
Manager: Pavel Hoftych
Captain: Miroslav Karhan
Colours: Black and Red Stripes
Nickname: Bíli andeli (White Angels)

Based in a city 47 kilometers west of capital Bratislava, TSS Trvana were formed in 1923 after the merge of local clubs Šk Čechie and ČšŠk.

Trnava won their first major trophy, the Czechoslovakia Cup, in 1951, now under the name TJ Kovosmalt Trnava after being affiliated with a metal industry when the club went through a communist takeover.

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Play Up Pohnpei!

Paul Watson

Taking on the job of managing the team officially ranked as the world’s worst sounds like a challenge you might set yourself on Football Manager, right? Well Paul Watson made it a reality when he made an 8,000 mile journey along with his friend Matt Conrad from London to coach the small, remote island of Pohnpei.

Initially, Watson had intended to go to Pohnpei to play for them, but due to strict citizenship laws on the island that plan was ruled out, but after meetings in London with a former inhabitant of the island, he discovered that he could coach the National side without having to be a citizen.

When the Bristol City fan arrived in Pohnpei, he discovered his job was much harder than anticipated. The national team had dispanded due to embarrassment of being branded as the worst team in the world, there was no league, the obesity rate was ridiculously high and there was little interest in sport which really narrowed the pool of potential players available to him. Read the rest of this entry »


Euro 2012 – Team of the Tournament

As the dust begins to settle following another famous Spanish triumph, one argument that will be brewing up over the coming days will be the ‘Team of the Tournament’. I myself have been looking at the various stand-out performers at over the last few weeks, and after much careful consideration, I give you my Team of the Tournament.

Gianluigi Buffon

Italy

Goalkeeper

Questions were asked of the veteran Juventus and Italy goalkeeper going into Euro 2012, but Buffon has been inspirational in this campaign and has certainly earned his spot in this list.

He made outstanding saves in the majority of Italy’s games, most notably from Glen Johnson of England in the Quarter-Final and a host of German efforts in the Semi-Final.

Although last night’s Final is one to forget for the 34-year-old, it would be harsh to let one game overshadow an otherwise fantastic tournament from the captain himself. Read the rest of this entry »


Alonso marks 100 caps in style against sorry France

Xabi Alonso reached the 100 caps milestone tonight in the quarterfinals of Euro 2012 against France, and certainly marked in style as he scored both goals in his nation’s 2-0 victory to set up a mouth-watering semifinal fixture against Portugal.

As expected, Spain were very much on top from the kick-off and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 19th minute, but Gael Clichy, Adil Rami and Lorient Koscielny will all be kicking themselves for not picking up Xabi Alonso on the far post as he ran into acres of space to power a header beyond the reach of Hugo Lloris. Spain could have been two or three up at half-time had David Silva been on his game, but the Manchester City man’s passing just wasn’t up to its usual standard tonight.

Goalscorer Xabi Alonso who reached a century of caps for the World and European Champions tonight.

France came out in the second half with a bit more fire in their belly, but in the periods of the half when they looked like they might create something, they did very little, as a very organised Spanish defence was able to see off any French attack. Samir Nasri and Jeremy Menez were introduced to change the game, but there was little they could do as Spain eventually delivered the killer blow when Xabi Alonso scored from the penalty spot in injury time after Pedro had been bundled over in the box by Anthony Réveillère.

Rumours had circulated of unrest in the French camp and it appeared to have translated onto the pitch with uninspiring performances from Karim Benzema and Florent Malouda in particular. The fact Benzema ends the tournament without a single goal says all you need to know about the Real Madrid man’s poor showing at Euro 2012. Read the rest of this entry »