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Irish practise penalties to prepare for a third shoot-out

Ireland's Shane Long. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Ireland's Shane Long. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

If the deadlock is broken at the Aviva Stadium tonight, then the prospect of penalty kicks is over.

Only a scoreless 120 minutes will result in the third penalty shoot-out of Ireland's World Cup history.

David O'Leary's winning kick against Romania in 1990 is arguably the country's greatest sporting moment. Ireland converted all five penalties successfully.

Twelve years later, three missed efforts against Spain meant that a great Irish footballing performance in the game was quickly forgotten.

It's a cruel but necessary method of problem-solving. O'Neill admitted that penalty practice has formed part of preparations.

"I think you cover all eventualities but it only needs a second to score a goal," he said.

Likely skipper David Meyler has converted penalties for Hull this term and said he would stand up to take one if he was allowed.

Contender

He was hardly going to say otherwise - Darren Randolph said the same when he was asked on Saturday - but Meyler would be a natural contender, although O'Neill mentioned the Corkman did miss in practice.

Robbie Brady converted a spot-kick against France in the Euros with regular taker Jon Walters also absent for that fixture, while it's not difficult to envisage James McClean stepping up.

He converted successfully in a pre-Euro 2016 friendly with Slovakia where both Irish goals came from the spot. Shane Long pinged in the first and would also be expected to put his hand up.

But it all depends on who is still on the pitch after 120 minutes. Daryl Murphy has fired one in for Nottingham Forest this season.

The regular ABAB format will be in operation - the experiment of teams taking two in a row after going second - does not apply at World Cup level.

Irish Independent

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