Thursday, March 08, 2007

Young Man, There's No Need To Feel Down

Darren O'Dea is actually 20 years old. He turned 20 four weeks ago. And to think they gave me an award for this!

Anyway, the boy (or man I suppose now) is a bit special, that I do know for sure. After the final whistle of the 90 minutes last night, as the players gathered their breaths and the coaches talked pep, O'Dea lay on the San Siro turf getting his legs rubbed. For all the stress visible on his face he could have been a kid lying in a city park on a sunny Sunday afternoon, missing just a can of lager by his side.

He was probably just about the best of a very fine bunch of Celtic players last night. Over the course of the two legs, Milan were clearly the stronger team, but as PSV Eindhoven demonstrated last night, winning through two-legged European ties is not necessarily about being the better team.

Right up until the 120th minute of last night's tie, Celtic were just a goal away from preventing AC Milan reaching the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in five years. Had the Austrian referee awarded either of Celtic's strong penalty claims, who would have bet against them preventing Milan from acquiring the two goals they would then have needed, especially with Artur Boruc in such majestic form?

Boruc, Lee Naylor, Aiden McGeady, Paul Telfer, Stephen McManus and Evander Sno were all magnificient for a Celtic, but O'Dea was awesome. Not simply in a 'for one so young' way, but his reading of the game, decisiveness and timing were perfection. Over to you , Mr.Staunton.

In the end though this performance garnered nothing but platitudes about bravery and heroism. However, it promised much for Gordon Strachan's team. The club's recent thrift has left them in a position to invest in quality come the summer, and while they will still be paupers in comparison to even the strugglers in next season's cash-gorged Premiership, the experience of last night bodes well.

Who knows, perhaps an away win in Europe's premier competition mightn't be out of the question.

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Blogger Tom the Tim said...

Good analysis. Tom. Just hope the legs will have recovered sufficiently to administer the slapdown to Wattie's Wasters on Sunday.
O'Dea looks the real deal and can only improve. Won't be long before the predators circle overhead, especially if he doesn't get regular games when all our centre halfs are fit and available.

Having said that, it is between him and Mc.Manus for the left sided berth, with Elvis,Caldwell, JFK and Bobo for the other side, not forgetting the equally promising Scott Cuthbert.

4:01 p.m.  
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