Sunday 22 April 2018

Five reasons to be positive ahead of Ireland's crunch World Cup clash with Wales

Ger Keville

Ger Keville

The people of Ireland have fallen back in love with the international football team.

Shane Long's right-footed rocket against the Germans, Robbie Brady's bullet in the fog in Bosnia, James McClean's deft finish in Vienna. For so long we were starved of moments we could truly revel in, starved of players we could realistically call heroes.

When Robbie Keane announced his international retirement, there were fears the last of our leaders was closing the dressing room door on the way out.

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane deserve huge credit for galvanising this Ireland team and bridging the disconnect that existed between the men on the pitch and the fans off it.

Seamus Coleman's transition to Ireland captain has been remarkable. From his tackle on Mateo De Sciglio that set the tone for victory over Italy in France to his rallying team-talks and lion-hearted demeanour on the pitch, he is in every respect a fitting captain for our country.

"He’s an impressive, young man,” O’Neill said of his captain after the win against Italy in France. “He’s a very quiet, young man, but he’s shown a great intensity in this competition. He’s ready for it.

"He embraced the captaincy, took it in his stride. I thought he was a captain in everything he did.

“A couple of players mentioned that he was inspirational in his little speech to the players, which was great.”

Brady, McClean, Hoolahan, Long, Walters...these are all men that Ireland fans can now genuinely worship.

If we beat Wales tonight, Ireland are so close to qualifying for a first World Cup since 2002. Here are seven reasons to be positive ahead of the crucial clash.

Seamus Coleman

What a man. Ireland's captain just gets better and better. Here he is at his best against Italy

Now we have heroes all over the pitch

One of those heroes is this man - James McClean

O'Neill and Keane bedding in nicely

It wasn't the smoothest of starts, but the pair compliment each other perfectly. Hopefully we will see more of these pictures tonight.

Martin O'Neill celebrates with Robbie Keane and Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane following their side's victory. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Germany. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

The atmosphere

Friday night football against near neighbours. The YBIG Singing Section will be in full voice for this one.

Top of the group

We are top of the group and it's Wales who really need the three points.  Nothing to fear here.

Online Editors

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