Ireland – Euro 2016 Bound!!
So Martin O Neill has masterminded a place at Euro 2016 with a 3-1 aggregate victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina. After getting the all important away goal in Zeneca on Friday night, Ireland knew any sort of win or draw without conceding a goal was going to be good enough to see Ireland secure a place in France alongside Northern Ireland , Wales and England.
The “Home Nations” will have a serious following heading to France next June. In the last few weeks , Ireland beat Germany 1-0 and were held to a 1-1 draw in Warsaw. They managed to secure a 3rd place finish with a little help from a 1-0 win for Georgia over Scotland.
Heading into this 2 legged affair with Bosnia we were hopeful that we could at least get an away goal and maybe a victory to set up a winner takes all clash at the Aviva Stadium. Robbie Brady provided the moment of magic in Zeneca that almost secured a precious 1-0 win for the boys in green, Edin Dzeko the Roma striker pegged Ireland back with a goal in the 86th minute.
Ireland made one change for the 2nd leg with Robbie Brady moving to full back with Stephen Ward dropping out , Ireland looked like a team that were ready for anything and defended really well for the 90 minutes and will be well set for France in 2016. Jon Walters has been crucial in the last 3 games with 2 goals tonight. The campaign started back in Tbilisi with the first late goal by Aiden Mc Geady , one of many that would be critical to Ireland eventually making it to France in 2016 , John O Shea scored a peach of a goal in Germany , while Shane Long had two major interventions scoring late against Poland and Germany. 3 keepers were used with Darren Randolph , Shay Given and David Forde all playing big parts in Ireland’s march to Euro 2016.
Unsung hero’s like Glen Whelan , James Mc Carthy emerged and provided the steel and protection for the little magician Wes Hoolahan to make some very telling passes that would help to see Ireland through some tough patches in particular against Germany in Dublin on a number of occasions he came deep and gave his back four an option to help them out of trouble. The pity is that Wes Hoolahan is over 30 and although he will go to France , Ireland will not be able to build a team around him. That aside he has been ably assisted in mid field by Jeff Hendrick with James Mc Clean and Seamus Coleman providing the width when needed.
Tonight saw Ireland score 2 goals and deny Bosnia any real chances, they were the customary hairy moments as has become common place , but that aside tonight is a night to celebrate another Irish appearance at a major finals to go along with Euro 88 , Italia 90 , USA 94 , Japan and Korea in 2002 , Euro 2012 and now major final number 6 , France Euro 2016 , how sweet does that sound in particular after the defeat to Scotland back in June.
Martin O Neill, Roy Keane and the rest of the Ireland management can now bask in the glory of achieving the goal they set out to when the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign began in September 2014 in Georgia.
To the Irish support, enjoy tonight and the next few days, get the calendar out and mark June 2016. Book your holidays now. Get the Credit Union books out, clear out that jar behind the couch and book your seats to France. December 12th is another date for the diary when Ireland will find out who they will take on.
In the last two home games, the old Lansdowne Road Roar came back with vengeance and long may that continue. Roll on Euro 2016…
Cian Mc Gibney