Irish eyes smile, from Bari to Belfast

Another glorious night of international football has succeeded in keeping nerves frayed but, ultimately, ensuring fans of both Irish sides retire to bed with plenty of room for optimism. Trapattoni has led the Republic to a one-all draw with the World Champions in Bari due to yet another Robbie Keane goal (38 and counting) whilst Warren Feeney’s glancing header ensured Northern Ireland claimed a 1-0 win and the necessary six point return from the two home games. Roll on June…

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done

    Probably neither will qualify – we need just the one proper team.

  • Dave Hartin

    Great results for both sides – the dreams live on!

    Couldn’t find the Republic’s game on TV here in Essex – where was it on?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Only on RTE- and blocked by SKY for subscribers, so you needed the aerial link I’m afraid.

    Such pessimism- can’t you let us dream a little while longer???

  • The Raven

    Yeah, Sammy, I’m sure the team in the North will assimilate that motley crew from ROI at some point…


  • Kensei

    There is of course the chance that both with finish second in their groups, with the obvious possibility that that raises….

  • padraic

    Both teams also have a good chance of qualifying automatically as the best placed runners-up. Fair play to the North, I think their current form is much more of an impressive achievement than the Republic’s. Would love to see an All-Ireland team. The debates about which northern players would get into the team are probably as heated as any discussion on the political consequences of amalgamtion!.. although some will probably tell me it’s the other way around these days

  • Ri Na Deise

    Only one real team in Ireland. Ye’ll find that out if kensei gets his wish. 😉

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    Great performances from both teams.

    We were unlucky that Keane didn’t grab the winner at the end with that shin volley. We deserved the draw at least.

  • Sitting in Maribor after last October’s shambles, I would never have dreamt in a million years that we would be sitting top of the table 6 months later. Whatevr happens next, considering our playing resources and I still believe the wrong manager, it’s a fantastic achievement to be where we are this morning.

    But…one of Slovakia’s games in hand is San Marino and we have our two potentially most difficult away matches of the group to come. All being well, Czech republic will out of the reckoning by the time we play them, so you never really know;)

  • O’Neill – your namesake Michael intimated last night that we need 7 points. I’ve a feeling that 5/6 might put us in the running for 2nd. A point in Poland is possible. We should’ve got one out there the last time. Then the Slovakia game will be huge. Everyone’s talking about the away games, but if we don’t beat the Slovaks (and their results have been excellent)the other two matches are irrelevant. I don’t think we can do it ultimately, but my big hope is that we’re still in the hunt by the Czech trip. You’ll need to ask extra holiday leave from the Mrs! 😉

  • You’ll need to ask extra holiday leave from the Mrs! 😉

    Leave for Poland (via Berlin) has already been graciously granted and booked, but I’m sure I could also sell a romantic trip to Prague in the autumn if needs be. Finding a romantic corner of Prague when we actually get there could prove to be more of problem;)

  • George

    “Both teams also have a good chance of qualifying automatically as the best placed runners-up.”

    Only the top-placed team qualifies automatically. The best second place offers is a play-off.

  • danielmoran

    to kensai msg 5 i’m not sure if , in world cup qualifiers the second placed teams would necessarily play others in the european section, so an ni v roi tie mightn.t come about. if it did, i would hope it wouldn’t be a repeat of ’93. anyway, after poland’s crushing of san marino last night, their eastern european neighbours who will also play sm in the summer] must feel obliged to get high scores against the minnows to deal with goal difference rule in cases where points are the same.
    also a problem for n.i. is the games in hand for the east europeans. i think it’s beyond them.

  • Frank

    Very important goal by Robbie Keane for Ireland last night. We are still in with a real shout of qualifying. A draw away to Bulgaria in June should be enough & then hopefully three points away to Cyprus before the double header at Croker in October against Italy & Montenegro.

    There will no doubt be a many twists and turns in all the groups before they finish in October and also worth noting that the lowest placed second place finisher do not make the play-offs.

    I watched the game in The Bot last night, it was absolutely crammed with Ireland supporters and i thought the roof was going to lift off the joint when Robbie equalised. Mayhem.

    As regards the North’s group, don’t discount the Slovenians yet as they are pretty much guaranteed 6 points against San Marino & the others also have the banker of games against San Marino yet to come.

  • the others also have the banker of games against San Marino yet to come.

    Poland have already played them home and away.

  • 1islandnation

    Yeah… good night for the freestate and the wee 6.
    However, still an awful long way to go for both and my money would still be against both qualifying unfortunately. Loooooong way to go.
    Pretty easy groups and if they don’t qualify this time i don’t think they will ever.
    celebrate when they actually achieve something i.e. qualification. Niether have yet and i could see both being very disappointed at the end up.
    Divided we stand… united we will probably fall…

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done

    The odds with my good friend Patrick Power for Non Qualification are.

    Orange State: 1/8
    Papal State: 4/9

    So if you bet £8 that the orange state wont qualify you win £1.

    Thats probably about right.

  • 1islandnation

    Sammy McNally. That may well be the case but those are just bookies odds. I’m a betting man but wouldn’t put half a pint on either of them.
    In order to qualify you have to at some stage beat a decent team. This requires the ability to score goals which niether team appears to be able to do that easily.
    The only thing that will prove who is right is the fullness of time. I’m sure niether will make it to S. Africa so don’t get your hopes up

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done


    see post 1 for my view on the subject.

  • CW

    Didn’t see the NI game, so can’t really comment but a valuable win nonetheless.

    The ROI thoroughly deserved the draw in Italy and in fact were unlucky not to snatch a win in the dying minutes after a fantastic 2nd half performance.

    So we could be looking forward to the first ever World Cup to feature both Irish teams – interesting times lie ahead…

  • Peter Fyfe

    Why are people so pessimistic about the ROI team. We just drew with the world champions in their own back yard. We were missing Stephen Reid, Damien Duff and McGeady. That is three of a four man midfield. We were missing Finnan which allowed that donkey in at right back. I don’t need to remind anybody where the goal came from.

    Moving on, saying everybody was fit and available so we can allow for that baldy little ass from cork. Any ideas for an all-island first eleven?

    I go with:


    O shea Evans Dunne McCartney

    Aidso Ireland S Reid Duff

    Doyle Keane

    Any other suggestions?

  • The Spectator


    Surely you have to have Healy ahead of Doyle?

  • Peter Fyfe

    The Spectator

    Why? Keane is the goalscorer and Doyle the workhorse, works great for me. You need players that are getting first team football. Lets not forget about who can score at the top level of football. By that I mean the premiership not Northern Ireland internationals. To put it in to perspective, Doyle has scored as many headers in top level football as David Healy has scored goals.

    Surely Healy ahead of Doyle? I don’t think so.

  • padraic

    Stop on Peter, that looks like a quality team – with the exception of Duff. Has to be Stephen Hunt on the left wing, old Duffer’s long past it. Doyle is miles ahead of Healy in terms of talent and workrate and will be in the Premiership next season, whether Reading are promoted or not.

    Hopefully Gibson will push Reid over the next few years. Lafferty also looks like a very good prospect.

  • Peter Fyfe


    I do like Hunt though over ninety minutes I don’t think he produces near the quality Duff does. I think Hunt just blows too hot and cold. Duff suits the current ROI team better too as the switch between left and right seems to be used every game now. I love McGeady, probably my favourite player, but would still have Duff in ahead of him as well. Lets hope Gibson comes on, Fergie seems to have some faith in him and it would be great to see him representing his country in South Africa. Lafferty, like Healy would not be starting but he is only 21 so he has a lot of time. Keane wont play any more than 1 or 2 campaigns after this as well so we will need a replacement.