Last week we were all walking around feeling glum and a bit down in the mouth as the rain continued to pelt down on us. The All Ireland result did not help matters either. One person who wanted rain however was the Reading and Republic of Ireland star Stephen Hunt.

He played a major role in Ireland’s scoreless draw against Montenegro in Podgorica last Wednesday. Humid, dead heat made the conditions extremely difficult for the Irish team and Hunt admitted that fact after the game. “The first half was a real grueller because of the heat. We knew it was raining back in Ireland and we would not have said no to having some of it over there. We had put in a huge amount of work over the two games and four points from a possible six is not a bad return. The pitch in Podgorica was sticky and it was horrible to try and pass the ball on it. They had a lot of good players but I don’t know if they will be that brave when they come to Croke Park. They took the game to us but we defended well. Our instructions were spot-on in terms of the details. It was just a matter of trying to make the chances count. We should have had a blatant penalty. It was a disgraceful decision. We must now put this game behind us but it was frustrating not to have been awared that penalty. Other teams will find it difficult to win games in Montenegro, of that there is no doubt. We must now concentrate on the home games to come, starting with Cyprus next month”, said Stephen.

Proud mother

Maria Hunt was a very busy person last week. She had her had full getting things in order for the Waterford Ladies Cup Final at the RSC on Saturday last. Not only is Maria chairperson of the ever growing league but she is also joint manager of the Johnville team who played Tramore in the decider (see report elsewhere). Needless to say she was also keeping tabs on her son Stephen who was lining out for Ireland in Montenegro. “Stephen rang me after the game and he told me he was absolutely shattered after the game. He admitted that he would have liked some rain. He had a good game but I will admit a few of his ball’s went astray during the match but he ran his legs off for the cause”.

Maria also spoke with pride about her other son Noel as she attempted to get things inn order for Saturday’s cup final. “Noel has got off to a great start with Reading and I am proud of the two of them. They are doing something they always wanted to do and they are two fine boys” beamed a very proud mother, and rightly so.

Dunphy raves about John O’Shea

Eamon Dunphy, the outspoken pundit, was loud in his praise of John O’Shea following Ireland’s draw with Montenegro last week. In his column in a national newspaper, Dunphy penned the following. “Giovanni Trapattoni is getting something out of John O’Shea that no manager has ever done, including Sir Alex Ferguson. O’Shea to me has always had everything except hunger and real desire to become the kind of player he promised to be as he rose up the ranks. That is not a personal criticism, it’s just that he is a very nice person. That is his general disposition. He lacks the raging anger that so many of his ontemporaries have. But he produced a stunning first half tackle, a tackle that was so powerful that I thought it was Richard Dunne at first.

He has shown under Trapattoni that he can produce that kind of appetite and raw drive to get stuck in when it counts. John O’Shea was a tower of strength against Montenegro and there is not a better partnership in the world right now than the O’Shea-Dunne axis”. High praise indeed from Eamon Dunphy.

Lennon equally happy

One of the most respected soccer writers in this country is Paul Lennon. The vastly experienced journalist was also waxing lyrical about the Ferrybank born player as he filed his match report from Podgorica. He named John O’Shea “Man of the Match” in his Irish Daily Star report and he wrote the following. “Magnificent block to prevent Stevan Jovetic from potentially putting Montenegro ahead just before the break. Strong in the air and this was his best display for Ireland for several years”.

I am not sure how John took all of this praise. He is the kind of man who is more than capable of taking everything in his stride, so he will not be to bothered one way or the other but it would be fair to say that the entire soccer community of Ireland would agree with Dunphy and Lennon.