Tuesday 17 October 2017

It was our best year in over two decades, but trusting Wes could have made it even better

Wes Hoolahan has had to battle for his place on the Ireland team. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
Wes Hoolahan has had to battle for his place on the Ireland team. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Eamonn Sweeney

This has been the most satisfying year for Irish football since 1990. While it may not have quite reached the heights of that never-to-be-forgotten Italian summer, I can't think of any other annus more mirabilis at international level than the one ending with the victory in Vienna which makes Ireland early favourites to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals.

The team which went to this year's European Championships not only avoided the fate of the side humiliated at the 2012 finals, it also avoided that of the 2002 team - which followed up an excellent World Cup finals by starting the Euro qualifying campaign so badly Mick McCarthy was gone before Christmas.

While the 1994 World Cup team also made the knock-out stages of a major championship, that felt - considering the talent available and the hopes invested - like something of an under-achievement. But, ever since we turned over Germany 13 months ago, over-achievement has been the order of the day.

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