Thursday 27 April 2017

Video: Eight key moments during Ireland's gruelling qualification campaign for Euro 2016

John O’Shea celebrates after scoring Ireland’s late equaliser last year in Gelsenkirchen
John O’Shea celebrates after scoring Ireland’s late equaliser last year in Gelsenkirchen
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Martin O'Neill and his Republic of Ireland players endured a roller-coaster ride on their journey to the Euro 2016 finals.

Here, we take a look back at some of the key moments in the campaign.

1) TIMELY IN TBILISI

Ireland looked to be heading for a 1-1 draw in Georgia in their opening Group D fixture in September last year when Aiden McGeady, whose 24th-minute opener had been cancelled out by Tornike Okriashvili, scored a stunning injury-time winner to snatch victory at the death.

2) THREE-SY DOES IT

Manager Martin O'Neill was concerned about the home clash with minnows Gibraltar the following month, suspecting they would get men behind the ball and make it difficult to break them down. However, skipper Robbie Keane had plundered a hat-trick by the time 18 minutes had elapsed to pave the way for a 7-0 victory.

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3) AN UNLIKELY HERO

The Republic were trailing 1-0 to world champions Germany in Gelsenkirchen when central defender John O'Shea marked his 100th senior cap with just his third goal for his country in the fourth minute of stoppage time to claim a precious draw.

4) GRIM IN GLASGOW

Ireland's first setback arrived at Celtic Park in November last year when they turned in a lacklustre display against Scotland to go down 1-0 to Shaun Maloney's lone strike.

5) LONG, LONG WAIT

Back-to-back defeats looked to be on the cards when O'Neill's men went into injury time in their home clash with Poland in March with Slawomir Peszko's first-half strike separating the teams. However, substitute Shane Long's 91st-minute equaliser arrived in the nick of time to keep their hopes alive.

6) O'SHEA-D UNFORTUNATE

Scotland left the Aviva Stadium with a point in June when O'Shea had unwittingly deflected Maloney's shot past keeper Shay Given after Jonathan Walters had given the home side a first-half lead. The Scots headed back across the Irish Sea believing it would be them rather than their hosts battling it out with the Germans and the Poles for a top-three finish.

7) ON TOP OF THE WORLD

Few onlookers gave Ireland any real chance of emerging from their home clash with Germany last month with anything to show for their efforts, but no-one had told Long. He was introduced as a substitute once again and made the most of his chance when he thumped an unstoppable shot past the astonished Manuel Neuer to claim a famous victory over the World Cup winners.

8) JONNY ON THE SPOT

And so to the play-offs. There was some trepidation when the Republic headed for Bosnia-Herzegovina without Shay Given, O'Shea, Walters and Long through a combination of injury and suspension, but they returned with a 1-1 draw to set up the second leg perfectly. There was an element of good fortunate about the penalty from which Walters fired them into a 24th-minute lead, but it handed them a platform to go on to a victory which was cemented by his second goal of the night with 20 minutes remaining.

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