In Paris we were devastated, now we don't know what to do with ourselves -- Keane
Published 12/11/2011 | 05:00
Deliverance. John Delaney greets Giovanni Trapattoni and clasps him forehead to forehead. "Thank you so very much," he says. The near tearful Italian remains coolly detached. Elsewhere, emotion abounds.
On a night where substance emphatically trumped style, sure-footed Ireland's strength of character emerged triumphantly to steer an unstoppable course towards Euro 2012.
Nobody embodies that more than Keith Andrews, the much lampooned cog of Ireland's midfield whose honesty and endeavour shone like a beacon despite the gloom of those who decry his presence in this utilitarian outfit.
A character that will earn its worthy celebration on Tuesday night.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet so it's hard to think of it being over," says Andrews, whose decisive early header -- "more early Paul Scholes than Michael Ballack!" -- set a ravenously hungry Ireland on their way.
"We're only off the pitch half an hour. It's amazing to look up at the scoreline and see 4-0. We want to be professional now on Tuesday and do a job. It would be a hell of a game if we didn't get through now. We just want to put in a performance, win and have a really good night."
That much is all but guaranteed.
"I can't take the smile off my face," gushes Shay Given, remembering so many nights beneath dank tarpaulin when Ireland and regret have walked hand in hand.
"We knew we could get a result, there was no doubt about that but I don't think anyone would have predicted that we would come and get this," chirps captain Robbie Keane, whose two goals extended his extraordinary record, as well as confirming Ireland's most impressive (13) ever run of competitive matches unbeaten away from home.
"We hoped to come and get one or two goals and take them back to Dublin. But to get a 4-0 in their back yard is a tremendous night for us. We can't get too carried away, it would be a tragedy if we don't qualify now."
Sporting tragedy befell this team in Paris two years ago; vengeance of the fates is now in their hands, rather than someone else's.
"Paris has been and gone," insists Andrews. "We need to move on from that. It would have been nice to go to a World Cup but it looks like we're going to a Euro so we'll make the most of it."
"In Paris we were devastated," ruminates Keane. "Now we don't know what to do with ourselves. We've never been in this situation before, 4-0 up, we have to enjoy this.
"We don't get many nights like this. Tuesday will be a bit more calm and bit more ease where there would be more nerves if (we were) 1-0 up. Tuesday we can enjoy with the fans, they were superb again tonight."
And there promises to be many more. "As players we know how important it is. We remember the last World Cups, the whole nation comes to a standstill, it's very important."
As Keane insisted Trapattoni should be secured to a new contract, Glenn Whelan added his voice to the many who have seen their careers transformed by the ageless Italian.
"I wasn't involved in the Ireland teams until Trapattoni came around. I have always been looking to pay him back and hopefully I am doing that," he says. "Going back a few years we have tended to do things the hard way. Hopefully we can do well for the fans on Tuesday.
"This is a huge thing for us. We got so close to the World Cup but it didn't happen so to get to the European Championships, not just for myself, but for my family and friends, it's unbelievable.
"We used the France game as motivation going into the Estonia match. There were a lot of nerves tonight in both teams because these opportunities don't come around too often."