JASON McATEER grew to football manhood in the searing cauldron of the Giants Stadium.
No one stood taller than young McAteer, who provided vital width and energy when it was most needed.
You never know how a player will react to the kind of fear that seemed to grip both teams and the entire crowd as Group E drew to a tumultuous climax.
Make no mistake, Ireland desperately needed someone to take the ball during the closing minutes and run at the Norwegians, creating an element of worry among them that they could be punished if they over-committed themselves to the pursuit of a goal.
Norway probably deserved to go out of the World Cup yesterday..
That may seem harsh on a team that took four points in arguably the toughest group of the tournament but they played like moral cowards both yesterday and in the game with Italy when they faced just 10 men after the Italian goalkeeper was sent off.
I believe you get what you deserve in this game and Norway's refusal to be bold against the Italians and ourselves left them vulnerable to elimination.
They will argue that any team with four points is entitled to feel unlucky at being dumped out of the World Cup but their goal return of just one in three games reflected their mentality. That is why they're on their way home.
As of now, it seems we may well face Belgium back in the heat of Orlando next Monday. I don't think that will frighten anyone in the Irish camp just now.
The Belgians won't like the heat of Florida any more than we do. And, while they are a gifted side, they certainly don't possess the potential for trickery that enabled the Mexicans to beat us last Friday.
In assessing yesterdays performance, I would have to pick McAteer as the man of the moment.
He had a fantastic 10-minute spell towards the end when, rather than seek a breakthrough goal, the Norwegians found themselves on the back foot. Young McAteer is proving one of the revelations of this tournament.
But then, I could pick out just about everyone for their bravery, their honesty in getting us safely out of what Americans tagged the Group of Death. Going into yesterday’s game, there was legitimate cause for concern that we might be vulnerable down the right with two inexperienced men like Gary Kelly and McAteer being asked to cope in a forbidding atmosphere.
But we need not have worried. Both were exceptional and, watching them move so comfortably through the tumult, it struck me that Irish football is in safe hands for the future.
Phil Babb had another fine game in the centre and we now know with certainty that Paul McGrath's less than-assured performance in Orlando last week was down to the heat, not any worrying loss of confidence.
I felt Packie Bonner was flawless between the posts. Packie has had a fine World Cup and surely now has erased all the doubts about his capacity to deal with back passes.
In midfield, Ray Houghton was a revelation. It was wonderful to see him back defending in the last five minutes when you might have expected his legs to be weak and heavy. Rayzer too, has been marvellous in this tournament — a man rejuvenated.
What a pity John Sheridan's wonderful lob dropped just the wrong side of the bar. Sheridan is a class act in this team and, had he scored, it would have been the goal of the tournament thus far.
I could see that John Aldridge didn't enjoy being taken off but it was probably the right decision. Aldo had worked himself to a standstill and there is no question that David Kelly's arrival brought a little freshness.
What was proved beyond doubt yesterday is that Ireland's refusal to compromise on the way. we play makes the world of sense. We have qualified for the last 16 because, in all three games, we went out to win.
And just finally I would like to congratulate Maurice Setters on the job he did from the dugout yesterday.
It was a big day for Maurice with Jack deposited up in the stands by FIFA's capacity to be heavy-handed. It seemed that everything went smoothly in the dugout. For that, Maurice is entitled to a smile of satisfaction.