I blame Liam Brady. As a soccer-obsessed child I was desperate to attend an Ireland match but faced one insurmountable problem. The old Lansdowne Road was so decrepit that it did not even have floodlights so matches were played on Wednesday afternoons when I was invariably in school. But then it was announced that in May 1990 Ireland would play Finland in a testimonial match for the retiring Liam Brady.
A final chance to see Brady pulling on the green jersey could not be passed up and made skipping school almost a civic duty. The game itself was a disappointing 1-1 draw in which Brady was substituted after just 27 minutes. Yet it was good enough to make me want to return, which I did for every single Republic of Ireland home fixture for the next three decades.
On Sunday, Finland return to Lansdowne Road but for the first time
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