With high hopes travelling to Celtic Park last night, Martin O’Neill and his Republic of Ireland side left empty handed thanks to an excellent Shaun Maloney strike in the 74th minute. In a game of few chances Scotland deserved their win and the Republic of Ireland will be slightly disappointed looking back on the game.
The result however, as disappointing as it was for the players and fans alike, was no disaster in terms of qualifying for the Euro’s in France in just under two years time.
Before the campaign began O’Neill and his side would probably have been happy with a draw when visiting Scotland and would undoubtedly have predicted losing when paying a visit to World champions Germany. In reality by getting a draw at Germany the Scottish defeat does not affect the campaign too much.
Ireland currently sit in fourth place with 7 points out of 12, 3 behind leaders Poland and level with both Germany and Scotland. Prior to the campaign O’Neill and his backroom staff would have been more than happy to take this tally and would be confident of still qualifying especially given the fixtures that remain.
Other than a tough away trip to Poland in the final game of the group, the Republic’s fixtures are favourable and give them a very realistic chance of making it to France. Scotland, Germany, Poland and Georgia all must visit the Aviva, while a trip to Gibraltar should be a straight forward task for the Irish.
Should Ireland live up to their expectations they will be hopeful of beating both Scotland and Poland at home and if they can snatch a draw in Poland and another draw versus the Germans they should be well on there way to qualifying.
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