In 431 shortly before his death Pope Celestine I promulgated a last official act. An act which changed history.
Palladius, the first Catholic Bishop in Ireland, left his evangelical mission and the Pope decided to entrust Maewyn Succat to take his place. Maewyn Succat is the given name of the preacher Patrick, who was ordained bishop in Gaul.
The Shamrock, “lord” of Irish fields, had already a holy meaning before Patrick’s arrival. It was used by druids because they thought that shamrock had prophetical properties and pushed away bad spirits.
Furthermore, number 3, has always had a mystical value, in every religion.
According to the legend, St.Patrick explained the Holy Trinity through the leaves of the shamrock. It was born a milder Christianism, a celtic Christianism where local tradition and Christian precepts are mixed. Church decided to restrict it, but green remains, a colour which appears on Republic of Ireland football team shirts. In the enormous expanses, which occupied “two-thirds” of Irish territory, green is the symbol of a nature which only cede to itself, to the rocks, to the sea.
A nature which is wonderful and unripe.
The first participation of the Republic of Ireland football team in a European Championship was in 1988, in Germany.
An unbelievable “first time”, where the “green” team played in the same preliminary group of USSR, of the Netherlands and of England. In the group stage the first match is exactly against the British team in Stuttgart on 12th June.
On the Irish bench sat an English coach.
He was Jack Charlton, brother of Sir Bobby and world champion in 1966 with the English national team.
In 1977 Charlton was one of the candidates to substitute Don Revie as England manager but Football Association decided to appoint Ron Greenwood. On that day in Stuttgart Jack took his revenge. Eire won 1-0 with a header of Ray Hughton in sixth minute and the goalkeeper Packie Bonner saved everything he could. After that win Republic of Ireland tied 1-1 with USSR.
“Boys in Green” played and lose against the Netherlands, who will win the Championship beating USSR in the final.
A match where Marco van Basten decided to delight world football with a wonderful goal.
Ireland finished the preliminary group on the third place with three points, one few than the Netherlands, three more than England. A historic result.
The Austrian scientist could have had some problems with Martin O’Neill, an unique coach.
A missed lawyer, enthusiast about criminology, key player of Brian Clough‘s Nottingham Forest, captain of Northern Ireland.
As coach O’Neill achieved good results with Wycombe, Leicester (with a little bit of advance…), Celtic and Aston Villa.
He is the manager who has lead, for the third time in its history, the Irish national team to an European Championship. 28 years after Charlton, four after Trapattoni, O’Neill is able to manage as best as possible the “human capital” he had.
In the 23-team squad for Euro 2016 Martin named players as McClean, who was born in Derry and refused to wear poppy during Remembrance Day, O’Neill didn’t renounce at Aiden McGeady, the inventor of McGeady Spin.
The Scottish-born player had a difficult season but he is able to light up Irish play for a manager he made him debut as Celtic player in 2004. His formation is a “dogmatic” 4-4-2, which is a legacy of Brian Clough.
His weak point are central defenders, while rarely strikers have disappointed O’Neill. John Walters GiIrish self-made player and Shane Long scored important goals during Euro 2016 campaign and Robbie Keane is looking for new records. O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane, players and men with a strong personality, count especially on a motivated and “hungry” group.
Furthermore Ireland count on a colour, green. As the multitude of people who celebrated on 12th June 1988. Like shamrocks.
Photo: Claudio Paciello – ©footbAll Nerds for MondoFutbol.com