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Ronnie Whelan column and player ratings as Ireland draw with Dutch and progress to World Cup last 16

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Niall Quinn celebrates with Ray Houghton and Ronnie Whelan after scoring the equalising goal against Holland at Italia 90. Photo: Ray McManus

Niall Quinn celebrates with Ray Houghton and Ronnie Whelan after scoring the equalising goal against Holland at Italia 90. Photo: Ray McManus

Niall Quinn celebrates with Ray Houghton and Ronnie Whelan after scoring the equalising goal against Holland at Italia 90. Photo: Ray McManus

THE WORLD is at our feet today and nobody can say that we are unworthy of the honour. Last night, we came of age in the World Cup.

We did so by imposing our best qualities on a Dutch side that many still believe are capable of becoming champions.

It was, quite simply, a night to glory in our Irishness.

I can assure you that we all had lumps in our throats as we looked around the La Favorita stadium shortly before midnight at the Irish carnival under way.

Let no-one deny that we got nothing we did not utterly deserve. I felt that we matched the Dutch in every department of the field, indeed bettered them in some. Obviously, on a personal level, I am delighted. There have been times in the past few weeks when I honestly wondered if I was going to kick a ball in this World Cup. Ironically, Gullit's goal probably helped me. I say that because it forced Jack into changing his hand midway through the second-half.

Had we been level at the time, Jack would obviously have left things as they were. This tournament might then have passed me by. Now I have made my debut in the World Cup finals and I am already hungry for more.

I cannot claim to have had any part in our equaliser but at least I was on the pitch when it was scored. Who knows, maybe that is something I will one day tell my grandchildren.

I was thrilled Niall Quinn got the personal glory. Big Niall worked his socks off and gave Frank Rijkaard a torrid time.

And so it's on to Genoa and a meeting with Romania. It is important that we come down from the high over the next few days and get our preparation for the game 100pc right. With Jack in charge that should not represent problem. The world is at our feel and we are beginning to like the feeling.

RATINGS

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PACKIE BONNER

ANOTHER rock solid show from the genial Donegal giant. Was given little chance with Gullit's goal. One of his massive air to ground missiles set up Ireland's equaliser. Rating: 7

CHRIS MORRIS

THE Celtic defender is having a splendid championship. Completely snuffed out Gillhaus and supported the attack at every opportunity. Ran himself ragged in Ireland's cause. Rating: 7

KEVIN MORAN

ANOTHER never say die effort from this marvellous enduring sportsman. Enthusiastic and committed as ever, he won his duel with Kieft hands down and the frustrated Dutchman was eventually substituted. Rating: 7.

MICK MCCARTHY

DIDN'T put a foot wrong and forced Van Basten to forage deeper and deeper. Defiant in the air, resolute in the challenge, McCarthy led by example. Truly a captain's courageous display. Rating: 8.

STEVE STAUNTON

LIKE Morris, he stuck to his guns in his defensive duties and yet found time to roam deep into Dutch territory. Missed one tackle in the second half but chased buck like a hare to block Gullit's shot. Rating: 7.

PAUL McGRATH

THE anchor man in midfield. McGrath did his best work in and around Ireland's penalty area, rather than Holland's. Didn't quite stamp his usual authority in affairs but his contribution was considerable. Rating: 7.

RAY HOUGHTON

THE cutting edge has returned with a vengeance. This was vintage Houghton, busy and decisive. He wanted to be involved in everything and relished running at the Dutch and what odds a goal in Genoa? Rating: 7.

KEVIN SHEEDY

FADED somewhat after a bright start. One sweetly struck volley skimmed the Dutch crossbar but this was one of Sheedy's infuriating inconsistent displays. Rating: 6.

ANDY TOWNSEND

PATCHED up he may have been but Andy did not show it for a moment. Snapped away repeatedly at Gullit's ankles and gave Ireland a crucial edge in mid field. Rating: 8.

NIALL QUINN

DIFFICULT to believe this was his first full competitive match for lreland as he capped a superb performance with a deserving goal. Charlton's gamble paid off. Rating: 9.

JOHN ALDRIDGE

SUBSTITUTED for the third match in succession but this was Aldridge's finest hour to date in the World Cup. Chased every ball and his control and distribution were of a high order. Rating: 7.

RONNIE WHELAN

SLOTTED in comfortably for his first taste of World Cup action. Has fully recovered from a two month injury nightmare and Charlton will think long and hard about including him to play Romania. Rating: 6.

TONY CASCARINO

HIS arrival caused an already over-worked Dutch defence even more problems and he distracted Van Aarle into making the crucial error which led to Ireland's goal. Rating: 6.


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