There have been many reasons put forward for Ireland’s exit from the World Cup. Over expectation; poor tactics; rustiness; superior opposition. All the above may be contributing factors.
To the observer, it appeared that the Irish lacked energy; pizzaz; dynamism; an unfettered passion that could burn off doubt. As if there was a sluggishness running through the team that cast a shadow over their moments in the sun. This was a team that seemed ‘bothered’ by something.
Whatever that ‘something’ was, it did not look as if the Irish team had the foresight or the wit to clear things up. To resolve unresolved issues. Perhaps issues of internal conflict brought about by unequal commercial opportunities. Whatever it was, this was not a team that seemed to want to give everything for each other. Something had infiltrated their collective mindset.
The coach and his assistants job, is to spot these negative signs. If they can’t, then the senior players must take responsibility for bringing to the surface any internal conflict. The only reason why they may not do this, is if the internal conflict focuses around the senior players. Whereby they become too inveigled themselves in unresolved issues. They can’t speak about it, because they are the issue!
In that case, then the ‘non-senior’ players must speak out. But what if the collective culture doesn’t support those kind of freedoms? That the ‘non-senior’ players don’t feel able to speak their mind. Then you have a problem. The kind of problems that can cost a team the World Cup. Maybe the kind of problems Ireland simply didn’t have the mentality to overcome.