Ireland’s Greatest Night
Ireland head into their final Euro 2016 qualifier with Poland in Warsaw on Sunday with everything to play for , a better result than 1 all will see Ireland grab automatic qualification and even in the event of Ireland being beaten by Poland, Ireland will have secured a play-off place. After defeat to Scotland back in June, Ireland would have taken your hand off for the scenario that has since played out.
Ireland went into last night game with Germany knowing a draw would put them in a strong position to see Scotland off for 3rd spot. Poland and Scotland played out an entertaining draw at Hampden Park that saw Scotland’s dreams of European qualification evaporate into the night.
Let’s not kid ourselves who in the in The Aviva last night would have foreseen that result coming. It was a rear guard action from minute one but Martin O Neill had his team well set up and they tucked in and defended in numbers. On more than one occasion they rode their luck but on a night like last night who cares!!
From the moment Shay Given went off injured that seemed to galvanise Ireland into action and they took Germany on. They lived on edge with Mario Gotze and Mesut Ozil coming close in the first half. Ireland were reduced to resolute defending and clearances. When Ireland did keep the ball they didn’t look that out of place. Wes Hoolahan and James Mc Carthy in particular kept the ball to good effect. Germany did likewise and they created a number of chances put they could not find a way past Darren Randolph who had come on to replace Shay Given.
Germany came into last night’s game on the back of 5 wins on the bounce and they will still feel that they will cement top spot on Sunday evening by beating Georgia. Germany played a very high defensive line that saw Shane Long scamper in behind them to fire Ireland in front after 70 minutes.
It was a well taken goal after a long ball from Randolph it found its way all the way to Shane Long who took it down controlled it and fired it past Manuel Neuer to score one of those goals that will live long in the memory.
We now move onto Warsaw on Sunday evening to see can Ireland complete to remarkable turn around by beating Poland and therefore securing automatic qualification. Throughout this campaign Ireland have oven flattered to deceive but last night all of that was forgotten as Ireland secured the three points and in turn knocked Scotland out of contention.
For everyone in the Aviva last night it was a special moment. 50,000 people can say they were there to see Ireland defeat the current World Champions. How precious are the two late goals by John O Shea and Shane Long against Germany and Poland last year now.
So Sunday is a big day for Irish sport with the rugby team in action against France in Cardiff at 4.45pm and then Martin O Neill’s men go into action at 7.45pm against Poland with everything to play for on both fronts. Schmidt and O Neill are brothers in arms, both men can help keep the feel good factor going in Ireland well into next week.
From 4.30 on Sunday, close the curtains, take the phone off the hook , make sure the uniform for school is ironed and ready for road. Then strap yourself in and “DON’T FORGET TO BREATH “
Cian Mc Gibney