Five things we learned from Ireland's historic victory over Germany
Here's what we gleaned from one of the greatest ever results achieved by an Irish team in beating the Germans.
1) Ireland finally take control of their destiny
Even though they occupied a playoff spot before tonight's game, it is fair to say that Ireland had almost reversed into third place, benefiting from some poor Scottish results rather than playing their way in.
That has changed now. There couldn't have been a more emphatic statement of Ireland's credentials as Euro 2016 participants than turning over the world champions and tournament favourites. Germany dominated for long spells, but Ireland defended superbly - as they have for most of the campaign - and struck clinically when the opportunity presented itself.
Ireland gave one of their best performances in years but there is further reason to be hopeful as the team travel to Poland trying to book automatic qualification. Firstly, there is a safety net. Even if Ireland lose, the playoff spot is secure. Martin O'Neill said earlier in the week that Seamus Coleman will be fit while Glenn Whelan and James McClean will have returned from suspension. Things finally seem to be breaking right for Ireland at the perfect time.
2) Hoolahan's growth continues
Wes Hoolahan has been the best Irish performer in the Premiership this season (as many Fantasy Football players will know) and he continued to impress tonight. Even though Ireland were living off morsels of possession for long periods, Hoolahan tried his best to ration it, taking his time to find a team-mate rather than just aimlessly hoofing it downfield.
Bar the goal, almost all of Ireland's thrust came from Hoolahan having the ball at his feet. For years Hoolahan's reputation grew and grew the longer he was left out of the Ireland team but now he has nailed down a place and is arguably the man who dictates things for Ireland.
3) Martin's Merry Go-Round Continues To Whirl
Martin O'Neill seems to enter every game with a different attacking line-up. Sometimes it is Robbie Keane. Sometimes Daryl Murphy. Sometimes Jon Walters. Sometimes a combination of two of them. Never, it seems, Shane Long. The selection of Murphy wasn't particularly inspiring, especially because Ireland opted to play long balls into space in the first half, something Long is made for rather than the lumbering Championship target man.
When the Southampton striker was finally introduced, his dynamism changed the game and resulted in an exceptionally taken goal. Long simply has to start this Sunday against Poland.
We are almost two years into O'Neill's reign as Ireland manager and part of the reason that the team often don't have a cohesive attack has to be down to the manager's inability to pick a settled attacking line-up and develop it.
4) McCarthy stands up
James McCarthy has gotten a lot of criticism from fans and pundits for not transferring his Premier League form to the international stage but tonight he stood tall. He tackled hard, hunted Germans in possession and stepped in to break up numerous attacks when Ireland were clinging on.
Previous Ireland games seemed to pass him by but McCarthy was in the thick of the action tonight in one of his most committed international performances.
5) October 11th will live long in the memory
Ireland v France in the Rugby World Cup at 4.45. Ireland v Poland at 19.45. Irish sports fans have a mouthwatering feast of competition to savour this Sunday and at the end of it we could be celebrating one of the country's greatest sporting days. Robert Lewandowski is in prolific form for Poland but after beating Germany, why can't we get another three points? Bring it on.
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