Ireland drawn with Germany and Scotland for Euro 2016 qualifiers
Published 23/02/2014 | 12:15
For the second qualifying campaign in succession, Ireland will face European giants Germany as they bid to qualify for a major tournament under Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane.
Ireland will compete in Group D with Germany, Poland, Georgia, Scotland and Gibraltar.
Germany trashed Ireland 6-1 at the Aviva and easily beat the boys in green led by Noel King last October 3-0 on their way to qualify for this year's world cup.
The last time Ireland were involved in a group containing Scotland, they qualified for Euro 88 but Gordon Strachan's men will be hoping to qualify at our expense this time around.
Poland will be familiar rivals for Ireland with Martin O'Neill's charges having already drawn with them 0-0 last November.
Ireland beat Georgia on the both occasions we faced them in qualification for the 2010 World Cup but they proved difficult rivals.
Robbie Keane scored a hat-trick when we beat the Georgians 4-0 in a friendly last year.
Gibraltar will be an unknown quantity in their first qualifying campaign but will be expected to prop up the group.
Following the draw, Martin O'Neill said: "It's a difficult group but an exciting one and the games against Scotland will be a great occasion"
He suggested that Germany would qualify, but told Sky Sports that “It looks like a group, Germany apart, where teams might be able to take points off each other.”
O'Neill added: "They will be great occasions I hope. I'm sure he (Strachan) is looking forward to it. I'm sure he'll be as excited as I am myself. It's tough, I'm there's other groups we might have preferred to be in but we'll get on with it.
"Germany you would say are the outstanding side in the group but there's plenty to fight for."
Strachan added: "The commercial manager is happy. Every tie, there's something in it. You've got Gibraltar, new to the competition; Germany, one of the best teams in the world; the Republic of Ireland; Poland, who we play in a friendly - we've just decided to knock that one on the head and the backroom staff are just going to play their backroom staff.
"It is exciting. There's some groups you might call mundane but we're definitely in an exciting group. It's a terrific, terrific draw."
Ireland goalkeeper David Forde told RTE: "It's a tough group with Germany looking like the strongest outfit.
"The likes of Poland, Scotland and ourselves will be in a min-group to qualify for that second spot.
"We know that we need to be on our game and if we're up to our best I think we can qualify."
James McClean tweeted: "Tough enough group, scotland games will be brilliant atmospheres."
England have been handed a straightforward qualifying campaign for Euro 2016 while Scotland and the Republic of Ireland will face each other for a place at the finals in France.
Roy Hodgson's side were drawn in Group E along with Switzerland - the team he led to the 1994 World Cup finals - Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino.
England have never played Lithuania before, but San Marino have been regular opponents - in 1993 they famously scored after just 8.3 seconds against England after an attempted back-pass by Stuart Pearce.
England went on to win 7-1 - and have scored at least five goals in the four games they have played. Estonia should also pose little problem, with England playing them twice in 2007 and winning 3-0 home and away. Switzerland will be England's biggest challenge, having secured a 2-2 draw at Wembley in qualifying for Euro 2012.
Wales have a shot at a play-off place or better in Group B, where they will face Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, Israel, Cyprus and Andorra.
It is a similar story for Northern Ireland, who were drawn in Group F with Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland and the Faroe Islands in a competitive-looking group.
The top two in each group will qualify for the 24-team final tournament along with hosts France. The best third-placed team will also qualify, with the eight other third-placed sides playing off for the remaining four spots.
Republic of Ireland fixtures:
Sunday Septemer 7, 2014: Georgia v Republic of Ireland
Saturday October 11, 2014: Republic of Ireland v Gibraltar
Tuesday October 14, 2014: Germany v Republic of Ireland
Friday November 14, 2014: Scotland v Republic of Ireland
Sunday, March 29, 2015: Republic of Ireland v Poland
Saturday, June 13, 2015: Republic of Ireland v Scotland
Friday, September 4, 2015: Gilbraltar v Republic of Ireland
Monday, September 7, 2015: Republic of Ireland v Georgia
Thursday, October 8, 2015: Republic of Ireland v Germany
Sunday, October 11, 2015: Poland v Republic of Ireland
EURO 2016 QUALIFYING DRAW
Republic of Ireland
*France qualify as hosts, but will play friendlies against teams in Group I. There will be no points awarded for games in which France figure, so these will have no affect on the Group I table.
:: The top two teams from each group plus the third-placed team with the best record qualify automatically for the finals. The remaining eight third-placed teams will contest play-offs.
:: Qualifiers to be played between September 7, 2014 and October 13, 2015. Play-off matches to be played in November 2015.