Friday, 10 October 2008

In Ireland English no speak!

After my early brush with the hoodie, Dublin welcomed me like a long lost brother, everybody happy to help.

And it was help - or the lack of concentration when being helped - that would lead to an interesting journey to Dalymount Park last night.

A couple of miles north of the city centre at best, I thought public transport might be the way forward in the form of one of Dublin’s countless buses.

The hotel receptionist could not have been more pleasant, giving me the run down on times, bus number, street location in which to get the right bus to the ground.

The 38A off Hawkins Street, a ten-minute stroll from my hotel.

But in truth after the early words of his advice of ‘just tell the driver where you’re going and he’ll tell you where to get off’, I kind of failed to listen.

So to my horror, after queuing and stepping on the bus all relaxed ahead of the game, I asked the driver to do exactly that.

“English, no speak,” came the reply from the Polish driver.

Oh, what now? Hardly anyone was on the bus to ask and all I could remember from the advice was it being a few yards from where you approach a big church where the road forks either side.

No sooner had we left than we came to such point and from the empty bus, I quickly jumped off.

But with no sign of the ground, I asked another more than helpful local and he gave me simple enough directions for the final MILE on foot.

And upon reaching another, bigger church, on a fork in the road, I noticed the floodlights yards away. I’d got the wrong church.

It was a pleasant enough evening, I suppose, to be pounding the streets of Dublin.

But lesson learned when it comes to directions. Take it all in, don’t take shortcuts.

I’m just glad I left three-and-a-half hours early, otherwise it would have been a bit of a sprint uphill to the ground.

Mind you reflecting on the game, would it have been such a loss had a never got there?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Ireland not in friendly mood?

Sat outside enjoying a spot of lunch in Temple Bar this afternoon, I grabbed a copy of the Irish Herald to have a flick.

By the time I’d reached page five I was wondering if it was really worth having friends.

The front page was about a botched armed robbery last night in Dublin in which one of the culprits ended up dead – believed to have been stabbed by his fellow robber.

And then another Dublin man is in court, the case against alleging he beat his good friend to death in the house after he called his dad when drinking together. He is also alleged to have covered his body in newspaper and burned him to death afterwards.

Before I was treated to more tales of friendship “trouble”, I flicked to the back. And there it was, four pages of preview all linked around tonight’s Ireland “B” team friendly with Nottingham Forest at Dalymount Park.

One thing is for sure, with the tone of the Irish paper, it is not a game they are taking lightly. It is one in which those being given a chance are desperate to impress, the ones almost in the last chance saloon when it comes to making the Irish first team.

Personally, I found it a little worrying. After all, the Reds are on a run of six defeats in seven league matches.

They are rock bottom of the Championship, five points adrift of safety. But if anyone thought this was nothing more than a change in scenery for Forest, they are in for shock.

Unless the Reds are 100% committed, it is crystal clear Ireland could make a mockery of them.

This is no friendly in their eyes and the Reds must show the same attitude otherwise they could end home with confidence shattered.

But on the reverse side, a good performance and result against plenty of Premiership players could be the catalyst to a change in fortunes in the league. It could spur them on.

There is nothing happening in the centre of Dublin during the day to suggest there is match of any kind happening. No sea of green or red.. But the newspaper had made its importance known.

I am just keeping my fingers crossed the Reds approach it with in similar vein.

Otherwise this friendly could spectacularly backfire – and that is the last thing Forest need in the current climate.

Bruce Lee offers warm welcome to the Emerald Isle

A warm Irish welcome, that is what you can always expect, I was told.

That is unless you’re dragging your overnight bag and a laptop through the heart of Temple Bar.

Wandering to find my hotel, just thinking this isn’t a bad life, being flown over to Dublin to cover a football match, I was sounded out by an Irish hoodie.

Suddenly the splendour and atmosphere of Temple Bar was lost on me.

Decked out in his shell suit bottoms and gold chain, I managed to pick out a few words directed at me with his strong Irish twang.

And I tell you, it was quite the opposite of “welcome to Dublin”. Something along the lines of get back to England, with a few expletives thrown in.

Then, just for good measure, the moron walked on by while aiming a Bruce Lee style air kick at me, albeit in the knowledge he was too far away to make contact. I think he just wanted to make his feelings clear. He succeeded.

Or maybe, he knew Nottingham Forest were in town. Maybe he was worried his beloved Ireland side would not be strong enough to beat the Reds, his country would be humbled by the Championship strugglers.

Well, thinking about it, I doubt it was the latter on the evidence of the season so far.

But maybe tonight might be the start of a Reds revival at Dalymount Park.

Luckily I found my hotel soon after to get my laptop and luggage to safety, away from the threat of the Irish hoodies.

And at the hotel, it was a much warmer welcome, even letting me check in four hours early.

But then he handed me my key card – Room 101.

I tell you what - hoodies would be top of my list to throw in there, whatever their nationality.

Now, I have a few hours to kill until the big game.

I’m off to soak up the atmosphere and find that more welcoming side of the Irish capital that I was promised.