Reasons to be Cheerful…

After a night like that, it is hard to get up with a pep in your step but we are an optimistic nation and here are eight reasons why we should be cheerful this morning despite the 5-1 defeat to Denmark and exit from the World Cup.

One: We are still alive.  Sport is important but in the great scheme of things, there are far greater tragedies than losing a football match.

Two: We don’t have to be anxious about whether or not we should travel to Russia

Three: Think of how we can spend the money that would have had to go towards flights, accommodation and maybe the odd beverage in Moscow, St Petersburg and elsewhere.

Four: At least we are not Italy.  You think we’ve found this tough?

Five: Before the match and after Shane Duffy’s opening goal there was an atmosphere in the Aviva Stadium that was like no other.  We have to remember these moments as the reason why sport is so powerful and why we do, inevitably, keep coming back for more.

Six: It all begins again with the draw for the UEFA Nations League taking place on 24th January 2018.  We are in League B and will be in one of four groups of three against two of Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic and Turkey.  There will be six match days in September, October and November 2018 with the Group winners gaining promotion to the big league next time around and 16 of the 50 European nations having a second bite at qualification for the Euro 2020 Finals through a series of play off fixtures.  It means that 36 of those 50 will still be able to dream of a big finals appearance, all the way up to March of 2020.

Seven: It may not have dawned on us all yet but basically this means the end of meaningless friendlies other than just before major finals and a guaranteed minimum seven meaningful competitive games at home and the same number away between September of next year and November of 2019.

Eight: The Draw for the Main Groups through which we might qualify to play in the Euro 2020 Finals will be held in Dublin on 2nd December 2018.

Nine: There will be straight qualification for the winners and runners-up in each of ten groups with no need for slide rule calculators and no need for playoffs, other than in point five above, should we need that.

Ten: We know already that four matches in the Euro 2020 Qualifiers will be staged in Dublin, which will make for a heck of a party, and we have a decent shot of being there as a team.

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