Forget the Twitter reaction. Here's what the newspapers had to say about Italy v Ireland in Italia 90 8 years ago

Forget the Twitter reaction. Here's what the newspapers had to say about Italy v Ireland in Italia 90

On the last day of June, 25 years ago, Ireland's World Cup adventure came to and end against Italy in Rome.

The hosts won 1-0, thanks to Toto Schillaci's goal, but in making the last eight Ireland had exceeded the expectations of any sane person on earth, and in the process they captured the nation's imagination in a way previously only seen when the Pope or JFK.


Except this time there were green wigs, days off school and work (sometimes both), and booze. So much booze. So obviously is much, much better.

We've already re-imagined Ireland's Italia 90 campaign against England, Egypt, Holland and Romania, and all that was happening during June 1990.

So for the final article in our series, we've decided to look how the media actually reacted to the events at the time.

Friday June 29th


1"Fawlty Towers has players up in arms" - Irish Independent.

But it just jars a little when the FAI seems so loath to treat us with even a remote hint of repsect," a "high profile" member of the Irish team told Vincent Hogan. The players weren't happy with their living conditions in Italy.

There are no facilities here to help us avoid boredom. You know we'd kill for a board-game like monopoly." Simpler times.

At least the lads got a few hours out of their shacks to meet the Pope. David Kelly got a good spot.

World Cup The Irish team meet Pope John Paul II 1990 Ireland team kit man Charlie O'Leary meets Pope John Paul II with Fran Fields on the left Mandatory Credit ©INPHO


Saturday June 30th

"I am confident we can shock Italy," Packie Bonner tells the Irish Press newspaper. "Today is the most important football match I will play in my life and I want to enjoy every minute of it. I hope the nation will be celebrating with me tonight."

5"A month of Italia '90 is taking its toll on Jack's Army." - Irish Independent.

A month of following the team around Italy has left the Irish fans physically, mentally and financially exhausted.


Tony Gilroy, from Sutton in Dublin told the Independent.

"I know six people out in Italy at the moment who have been sacked from their jobs because they didn't come back from the World Cup. They contacted their employers in Dublin asking for a few more days' holidays and they were told that if they didn't come home they have to face being sacked."

Meanwhile, Leonard FitzGerald from Cork told the newspaper the trip cost him and his wife "between £4,500 and £5,000."

"I would gladly have gone home after the penalty shoot-out against Romania," FitzGerald said, "but unfortunately we couldn't get a flight."

He didn't have much longer to wait.


The match

Not a lot happens in Ireland games. Not at this World Cup anyway.

McGrath crossed, Quinn rose, Zenga saved.

Ireland lost it in midfield, Italy broke, Donadoni blasted, Bonner blocked, Schillaci finished.

Italy won.

Big Jack led the lap of honour. Everyone cried. Except for Charlie Haughey. He waved.

World Cup 1990 Packie Bonner of the Republic of Ireland and Salvatore Schillaci of Italy ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

World Cup 1990 Republic of Ireland v Italy John Aldridge and Paolo Maldini ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

World Cup 1990 Ireland June 1990 Maurice Setters and Jack Charlton wave to the Irish fans after Ireland were nocked out Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

World Cup 1990 Republic of Ireland Taoiseach Charlie Haughey Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

The aftermath...

Sunday July 1st

Ireland are out, but there's an immense sense of pride in the team's performance against Italy, and throughout the tournament.

6"Ireland lost with honour in the World Cup quarter-final against Italy in Rome last night," Eamon Dunphy wrote in The Sunday Independent.

"Salvatori Schillaci scored the goal that brought our glorious crusade to an end. But long before that wicked 38th minute Ireland's World Cup campaign ceased to be about football."

"Ireland have brought much to this tournament... We are coming home today. We will be remembered here. And remember this as a golden time. We could hardly have asked for more.

7"Tears were shed at the result, but they were tears of pride for a group of men who gave their all in Ireland's finest hours of the world sporting stage." - John Downing, Sunday Independent.

Monday July 2nd8

"From the team bus driver to Franco Baresi and from Paolo Maldini to Walter Zenga, the Italians were all agreed on one thing. Ireland were the best side so far encountered by them at this World Cup" - Paddy Agnew, Irish Times.

"We knew before the game that Ireland was a good side," goalkeeper Zenga said, "and they confirmed it. Ireland is a team made up of true professionals who play excellent soccer, right to the last whistle. Ireland, too, has terrific fans, almost as good as our own."

9"Crowds as big as those which welcomed the Pope to Ireland and who witnessed the funeral of Parnell nearly 100 years ago, lined the streets and roads from the airport to the city centre throughout the evening." - Irish Press.

Most of the cabinet were present at College Green for the official welcoming function, but it was the ordinary people who dictated the pace and mood of the unique festival.

"You were marvellous - the best supporters in the world," Jack told the crowds repeatedly.

However, the Irish Press weren't convinced 500,000 people lining the streets of Dublin was sufficient to show thanks to Ireland's manager.


10"Dublin has never seen anything like it. It was the most emotional outpouring in the long and often barren history of Irish sport" - Irish Independent. "If Ireland had actually won the World Cup, it is hard to imagine a more joyous, emotional or exhilarating reception as men, women, and children came out as one to embrace their heroes."

Kevin Moran also spoke to the Independent.

"We knew it would be special but, not for the first time the Irish have surpassed themselves. I can say with some certainty that last night's experience was the most emotional of my sporting life. In the past, I have always liked to separate my Gaelic football memories from those acquired through soccer. But, now, I have to concede - yes - this was the ultimate."

Other newspapers got so carried away that they simply wrote headlines where they tried to sum up what everyone was thinking and feeling.



And then they came home...

Anywhere between 500,000 and every single person in Ireland bar none turned out to greet the squad as they made an open top bus tour from the airport into the city centre.

This caused Big Jack to fret far more than anything at the actual World Cup as he thought someone from the crowd would get run over by the bus.

Then there was a reception on College Green. The players got drunk. And so did the fans.

Then everyone went home and never stopped talking about the greatest month in the history of the country.

But don't worry, they all lived happily ever after, right?

Ireland itself experienced an unprecedented economic boom in the 1990s, the fruits of which we are still reaping today. While the euphoria captured the imagination of every young boy and girl in the land, leading Ireland becoming one of the world's finest football teams, or 'the Brazil of Europe' as most like to call us.

A then little-known Cobh Ramblers player named Roy Keane would captain Ireland to a respectable quarter-finals place in the World Cup in 2002.

Brian Kerr built on Mick McCarthy's good work at the following two tournaments, before Steve Staunton won Euro 2008 as manager.

Thierry Henry never handled the ball in a World Cup play-off game, because we're first seeds and always top our group.

Staunton is now Liverpool manager, Keane is Manchester United manager, while Andy Townsend is the most respected football pundit around, and Tony Cascarino is Taoiseach.