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GIVING US A HAND: French equaliser gets us seeded

It was the luck of the draw for Ireland last night - and who would have believed that our old friends from France would do us a favour?

A late French equaliser from the penalty spot against Bosnia by Samir Nasri means Trapattoni's men will now be seeded for tomorrow's play-off draw in Poland.

We are now poised for a clash against Turkey, Bosnia, Estonia or Montenegro.

Perhaps we'll now let the French off the hook for the heartbreak they caused us following Thierry Henry's scandalous handball in the World Cup.

As the country's sporting hearts were still coming to terms with the disappointment of New Zealand, one grey-haired Italian man was preparing to lift our spirits.

Giovanni Trapattoni pleaded with the Irish contingent to get behind our soccer elite -- and boy, did they deliver.

Loud choruses of cheers and chants belted across the Aviva right from kick-off.

It was never, ever going to be emphatic. There are days where we wonder who ever came up with the phrase, 'the luck of the Irish'.

Even the stadium announcer couldn't hide his glee. After declaring before kick-off that this was "one of the biggest games in our history", the mystery voice boomed with excitement as he announced the name of our first goalscorer -- Valeri Aleksanyan.

As usual, nothing is ever plain sailing with the boys in green. Star striker Kevin Doyle ensured the game had its sour note when he got his marching orders from the referee -- ruling him out of next month's crucial playoff.

However, nobody can deny that the fans played a momentous role in the win -- and they were in jovial form after the final whistle saw Ireland win 2-1.

"We should be really proud of the lads tonight," declared an excited Luke Daniels from Rathfarnham. "They were so calm right from the beginning. The fans definitely got their money's worth. Bring on any team in the qualfiers, these boys will take them."

Others were more critical of the performance.

Alan Fitzpatrick from Ballinteer told the Herald: "Of course we're happy with the result -- it's make or break now but without Kevin Doyle it'll be tough. We were lucky at the end of the day but we'll take it, we deserve a bit of luck."

And the name of LA's newest recruit, Robbie Keane, was on many fans' lips following his X Factor-like performance in Malahide at the weekend.

"We need Robbie back, will he forget about his singing and concentrate on getting fit," joked Clare Mulvey from Clondalkin.

While some fans may have been hoping Robbie would take to the mic on the Aviva field, he was sitting cosy in the dugout, perhaps nursing a sore throat.