Ireland target Scotland after great result in Germany

Martin O’Neill

Martin O’Neill

When Ireland headed to Cologne to face Germany in October 2013, they were a team in disarray. Former Head Coach Giovanni Trapattoni had been shown the door after it was confirmed that the boys in green would not be heading to the 2014 World Cup and the confidence of the team was at a low.

Noel King was the Caretaker Manager and for most fans, it was a case of damage limitation and hoping to keep the score down to a respectable level. And they did when they were beaten 3-0.

One year on and heading to Gelsenkirchen to face Germany in their guise as world champions, again, if was like going into the lions’ den. But this was a different Ireland team and thanks to a last minute goal from John O’Shea on his 100th appearance for Ireland, Martin O’Neill’s men claimed a fully deserved 1-1 draw, keeping their hopes of automatic qualification for the 2016 Euro finals very much alive.

The confidence of the team would have been boosted by a 7-0 victory over group whipping boys Gibraltar, with captain Robbie Keane bagging himself a hat-trick, taking his international goals tally up to 65, leaving him in joint 11th place (with Didier Drogba) on the all-time international goal scorers list.

Keano wasn’t able to get on the score sheet against the Germans, but John O’Shea did, turning in a ball across the box from Jeff Hendrick four minutes stoppage time to snatch the draw, after Toni Kroos put Germany ahead on 71 minutes.

The goal sent the Ireland fans in the ground into raptures and also sees them in second place in Group D, level on points with leaders Poland, who drew 2-2 with Scotland and have a goal difference one better than Ireland. On seven points, Poland and the Republic are three points ahead of Scotland and Germany.

Speaking after the game, O’Neill said: “It was a terrific game for us. To the very end we kept going and our spirit carried us through. You couldn’t have written that script for John. He gets the goal and I’m absolutely delighted for him.

“We were backs to the wall in the first half. We had formulated a plan that we would try and thwart them as much as we can while at the same time, when we had the ball ourselves, try and manoeuvre it.

“We were unable to do that for periods in the first half, we seemed to be under pressure. We got through that time but it was a wee bit of a similar pattern in the second half when they scored. That changed the mindset of us to go and search for the equaliser. Even if we concede two, three, four, I don’t care, as long as we try and get something from the game.”

Centurion John O’Shea, who hit the back of the net for only the third goal of his international career, said that goal will live long in his memory, especially as Ireland got a result from the game.

He said: “That goal just takes over those other two. It was a very special moment because the group has a fantastic spirit and we didn’t want to come off this pitch with just a 1-0 defeat. But that makes it a bit more special – we got something from the game.

“I think we might have to find a frame for it [my shirt]. I’m not one for hanging stuff or putting stuff up on any mantelpieces but I think this one could be heading for the mantelpiece at my mam and dad’s house.”

The focus now turns towards this month’s vital qualifier against Scotland at Celtic Park on Friday 14th November (kick off: 7.45pm).

A positive result against Gordon Strachan’s men will see Ireland in a strong position in the group with six games remaining. Despite a row between the FAI and SFA regarding ticket allocations, there’s sure to be a sizable travelling green army making their way to Glasgow for the game.

Four days afterwards, Ireland return to Dublin to play a friendly game against the USA, who impressed so much in the World Cup under the guidance of Jurgen Klinsmann. The game against the Americans will prove to be a tough and worthwhile challenge for the Irish after recent friendly fixture against Oman.

Commenting on these fixtures when announcing his provisional 36-man squad, O’Neill said: “I am looking forward to assembling the squad for the last time this year in preparation for our final games of 2014.

“I am absolutely delighted with the courage and determination we showed in our last two qualifiers, and hope we can continue this run next month against Scotland and the USA.”

 

Republic of Ireland provisional squad:

Goalkeepers: David Forde (Millwall), Shay Given (Aston Villa), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Darren Randolph (Birmingham City), Rob Elliot (Newcastle United)

Defenders: Richard Keogh (Derby County), Marc Wilson (Stoke City), Seamus Coleman (Everton), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Alex Pearce (Reading), Brian Lenihan (Hull City), Stephen Kelly (Reading), Paul McShane (Hull City), Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace), Shane Duffy (Blackburn Rovers)

Midfielders: James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Derby County), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Darron Gibson (Everton), Paul Green (Rotherham United), Aiden McGeady (Everton), Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff City), James McClean (Wigan Athletic), Robbie Brady (Hull City), Stephen Quinn (Hull City), David Meyler (Hull City)

Forwards: Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Southampton), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town), Jon Walters (Stoke City), Kevin Doyle (Crystal Palace), Anthony Stokes (Celtic), Simon Cox (Reading), Conor Sammon (Ipswich Town)