Ciaran Clark: Euro 2016 finals would be massive but job not done
Ciaran Clark is not allowing himself to dream of a trip to the Euro 2016 finals just yet as he concentrates on the task of keeping Edin Dzeko at bay.
The 26-year-old Aston Villa defender will hope to get the nod once again at the Aviva Stadium on Monday evening as the Republic attempt to complete the job they started with a 1-1 play-off draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina in Zenica on Friday.
Clark and his defensive colleagues managed to shackle Roma striker Dzeko for much of the game at the Bilino Polje Stadium, but were unable to prevent him from snatching a lifeline when his 85th-minute equaliser cancelled out Robbie Brady's earlier strike.
A clean sheet in the second leg would be enough to send Ireland to France next summer, but nobody is taking anything for granted.
Clark said: "It would be a massive honour for myself and all the lads to get there, but there's still a job to be done here and it will be a tough task.
"We managed to keep them fairly quiet for the most part of the game, but we were disappointed when we conceded.
"It's something we've looked at and hopefully we can put that right and bring that into the game tomorrow night."
Clark turned in one of his best performances for his country in Bosnia with manager Martin O'Neill later describing his contribution as "rock-solid".
However, having seen at close hand what the likes of Dzeko, Vedad Ibisevic and winger Edin Visca can do, he knows the threat they pose to Irish hopes of qualification.
The defender said: "We watched a lot on Bosnia and they're very good players, all very talented and very dangerous.
"The style of play changed for them towards the end of the game, they started to go a lot more direct, especially towards the end and tried to cause us problems that way.
"They tried to play in the first half and then mixed it up a bit by going long, but towards the end, they were going really direct and maybe that's something I didn't expect.
"Being part of that and playing in the game, I know what they've got and so do the other lads, we know where their strengths are.
"It's obviously going to be a very tough game for us, and hopefully we can make it just as tough for them."