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Dublin: 12°C Sunday 9 May 2021

'Glenn Whelan should have been sent off:' The British media reaction to Ireland-Wales

The tackle on Seamus Coleman was naturally the main talking point.

Ireland’s Glenn Whelan has a tussle with Joe Allen of Wales.
Ireland’s Glenn Whelan has a tussle with Joe Allen of Wales.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

IN THE AFTERMATH of Ireland’s rather robust encounter with Wales at the Aviva Stadium, there was one incident which dominated the media reaction both at home and abroad.

Ireland captain Seamus Coleman  is currently lying in a hospital bed, facing down a lengthy and grueling recovery from a double-leg break.

The Ireland captain’s second-half injury was one of two particularly reckless challenges in the game, coming just a few moments after Gareth Bale lunged at John O’Shea.

Ireland were guilty of some indiscipline as well, with Shane Long and Glenn Whelan both playing the aggressor in some incidents.

Commenting on the Coleman incident, Daniel Taylor wrote in The Guardian:

“Maybe, even subconsciously, Taylor felt it was expected of him to leave something on his opponent. If so, he made a terrible mistake. But it was one of the themes of the night and he had just seen Bale — the player everyone else in the Wales team looks up to — do likewise.

“Now it was his turn and once he launched himself into the air, it became a fallacy for anyone — Chris Coleman, Dean Saunders and all the rest — to argue he was “not that type of player”, the default-setting response in any cases of these nature. It might have been out of character but Taylor evidently is that type of player: just look at the evidence.”

He added: ”For what it is worth, Taylor looked sickened when he left the pitch and, at the end of the match, when the other players came into the dressing room they found him on the floor, covering his face with his hands. He can expect, and deserves, a lengthy ban from Uefa and, over time, perhaps there will be more forgiveness for him.

Republic of Ireland v Wales - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group D - Aviva Stadium David Myler and Gareth Bale at the end of the Friday night's game. Source: Niall Carson

“Yet there is only one true victim of a leg-breaker and the person in question is currently lying in a hospital bed. For the player responsible, it is a stain on his career that will never properly wash out.”

Chief sports writer for The Independent Miguel Delaney, similarly explored the concept of ‘not that kind of player,’ considering the situation from the Welsh point of view.

“One thing is clear to the Welsh manager, and to those who know the 28-year-old full-back well. It would not be like Taylor to intend to injure Coleman, nor even to intend to “do” him, to use football speak.

The laws of the game may not say anything about intent when it comes to punishing bad challenges, but that’s not what Chris Coleman is attempting to argue. He’s merely seeing that the character of his player could be publicly questioned, and wants to defend him. He wants it out there that any presumed malice is not in his personality, and that is understandable.

“That’s essentially what the notorious phrase means. It’s not about excusing the foul, but fairly clarifying that there is no extra level to it. Again, intent may not matter when it comes to the rules, but it does matter to those involved.

The coverage of the game in Wales Online, focused on their country’s likelihood of making it to the World Cup, and made brief references to the tackle on Coleman:

“Wales lost their cool but did not lose the game.

“And it might just mean they have not yet lost their World Cup chance. But, make no mistake about this, it is not going to be easy for Chris Coleman’s side if they are to make it to Russia next summer.

But, after Neil Taylor’s red card for an awful tackle — of sorts — on Seamus Coleman left Wales with ten men for the final 22 minutes at the Aviva, they were singing songs of defiance at not suffering a further blow.”

They also argue that Ireland should have perhaps been reduced to 10 men as well:

Glenn Whelan should have been sent off just before the break for a forearm smash to the face on Stoke teammate Joe Allen, excellent again and unsurprisingly targeted.”

Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph, also remarked on the aftermath of that clash between Ireland’s Glenn Whelan and Joe Allen before half-time:

Republic of Ireland v Wales - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group D - Aviva Stadium Ireland's Darren Randolph lifts Gareth Bale during the game. Source: Brian Lawless

“After a drab opening 45 minutes, in which neither goalkeeper had to make a save and neither side managed a shot on target, it was a physical confrontation between two Stoke players near the halfway line that exposed how much was at stake.

When Whelan offered a hand in apology, it was knocked away, heads came together, expletives were exchanged. It was probably a good thing the half-time whistle was blown, because Allen, small and slight as he may be, had been engulfed by the red mist. Retribution and retaliation were on his mind as he was pushed away by team-mates towards the tunnel.”

John Hartson shipped a lot of criticism from Irish fans for apparently defending Taylor following the tackle. After paying tribute to Ireland’s performance, he clarified his position on the incident.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Off The Ball yesterday, he said:

“It wasn’t a classic. I think Ireland did enough to win a game of football, considering the onus was on the Welsh to take the game to the Republic of Ireland. We needed the points. We needed to win the game, I don’t think we did enough.”

“I thought there were some really strong challenges going in. I thought Gareth Bale should have been sent off. For those Irish fans who have absolutely slaughtered me on Twitter all day today, it’s great for me to come on here to set the record straight – I never defended Neil Taylor. All I said was I didn’t feel it was intentional, because I don’t think anybody goes on the pitch with a view of breaking an opponent’s leg.

“I think that is not acceptable, and I don’t think it’s the case here. It’s reckless, it’s rash, it’s all them strong words – it’s a horror tackle. And Neil Taylor will face criticism, he’ll face a ban no doubt, and he has to live with the fact that he could have possibly ended another player’s career.”

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