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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
What the papers say
Journalist Keith Baker takes a look at Monday's morning newspapers

Acres of space given over to you-know-what this morning. The newsprint's practically soggy with emotional prose.


They've done their country proud and they will return as heroes

Irish News
on Ireland World Cup squad
The Irish News has a four-page picture spread wrapped around its normal front page where the lead story is headlined - "Ireland's World Cup dream is shattered".

There's a front page editorial on the subject, too.

The paper says the Republic's team has thrilled, delighted and amazed.

"It's been an unexpectedly wonderful adventure which makes the journey's end all the more disappointing."

The paper says they've done their country proud and they'll return as heroes.

Homecoming

Precisely where they are going to return to is a question raised in the Irish Independent.

It says Dublin is bracing itself for the homecoming on Tuesday but there is a disagreement between the people organising the event, who want the party to be held in the Phoenix Park, and the FAI, who want to go to College Green.

The Irish Times and the Mirror use the same front page picture - Mick McCarthy hugging a devastated Niall Quinn.

The Mirror says fans and players alike were in tears.

So were people watching up and down the country in pubs where many reporters were forced to share the experience with them - terrible hardship, no doubt.

One Irish Times man was dispatched to a big pub in Parnell Square in Dublin where it was all a bit confusing apparently.

Mixed emotions

Several hundred young Spanish fans were in a balcony upstairs and when the Irish supporters weren't shouting ole, ole, ole, they were.

David Sharrock, writing in the Daily Telegraph, says there were mixed emotions in his household.

He has a Spanish wife and a six-year-old Irish-born son.

So they all sat around with friends eating tapas and Irish stew.

The Irish Times says nationalist west Belfast was like a ghost town while life seemed to go on as normal on the other side of the peace line.

Yet even up the Shankill, it says, there was sympathy.

Not much of it from Jack Charlton, writing in the Mirror.

Sympathy

"There are no excuses", he says.

The penalties were just dreadful and he doesn't have any sympathy at all for the players who missed them.

"They are professional footballers and that's their job."

An editorial in the Guardian nudges us in the direction of other matters.

It says those who have registered that there is anything else going on in the world besides football are aware that Northern Ireland is currently sliding towards new confrontation.

The paper says that unless both sides can get beyond reactionary tribal agendas, the people will again be the overall losers.

But it believes that, as with the football at the weekend, politics does not always have to be a zero sum game.

'Best available option'

Kevin Toollis, writing in the Mirror, claims a sinister plot of leaks and lies is threatening the peace process and he blames embittered intelligence agents.

Meanwhile, the News Letter says the Unionist Executive adopted the best available option on Saturday by refusing to support the motion calling for David Trimble to withdraw from government.

July's a troublesome enough month, it reminds us, and the last thing we need at such a volatile time is a political crisis.

The paper believes it is up to the government to do something.

Tony Blair and John Reid have raised serious concerns in the past week about IRA activities but it wonders if once again it is going to be a case of all words and no action.

'Black Rod row'

Several of the papers found themselves with a photo-opportunity too good to miss yesterday - the sight of the prime minister playing tennis.

The occasion was a charity match for Sport Relief.

The Daily Telegraph and the Mail report that some of the spectators spotted an opportunity as well.

On more than one occasion, they were heard urging him to use a bit of spin.

Meanwhile, the row rumbles on over Mr Blair, Black Rod and the Queen Mother's funeral.

The Mail leads the hunt as usual with the headline - "New Labour turns its venom on the official who humiliated Blair".

The Times says the Palace is afraid all this might damage blossoming relations with Downing Street following the success of the Jubilee.

The paper has a cartoon showing two people looking at a newspaper billboard which has the words - "Blair Black Rod Row".

One is saying to the other - they should settle it with penalties.

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