Not many people are giving Ireland a chance on Sunday against France. Our traders aren’t either with odds of reflecting that the Boys in Green will probably be left sicker than a Mexican when Trump visits.
But there’s always the question of what if? After all, Ireland tend to shine when pinned with their backs against the wall of a major tournament. Don’t believe us? Read on to find out Paddy’s top five Irish upsets.
#5 – Ireland 1-0 Germany – October 8th 2015 – Euro 2016 qualifying in Dublin
Okay we’re cheating a little bit to start because technically this wasn’t at a major tournament. But it’s our article so we’ll tell the story of Shane Long anyway. Ireland had fluked a draw away in Gelsenkirchen against the champions of the world, but there was no way lightning could strike twice. The last time Germany invaded Dublin they bent Ireland over and beat them 6-1.
Germany won practically every other statistic. Shots (17-5), corners (11-4) and possession (67-33). But not the important one, as route one football saw Ireland stun the best team in Europe at the time. Darren Randolph went long, Shane Long read the bounce and four excrutiating seconds later every man in the Aviva Stadium made the exact same noise.
#4 – Germany 1-1 Ireland – 5th June 2002 – World Cup in Japan
Long’s goal went down in history but it would’ve given a slightly older generation a serious flashback to 13 years earlier in Ibraraki.
Roy Keane had walked out on Mick McCarthy and Ireland were without their captain. Matt Holland’s goal had got them a draw against Cameroon in the opening game but now the plucky Irish were coming up against the likes of Hamann, Klose, Kahn and Ballack in Rudi Voller’s Germany.
1-0 down to a Klose header and with time running out, Big Mick throws on Niall Quinn. With less than twenty seconds left on the clock, Quinn flicks a long Steve Finnan ball down to Robbie Keane and the rest was history. It was always his dream growing up as a boy to score in Japan and unleash the now infamous cartwheeling gunslinger.
#3 – Ireland 1-1 Netherlands – 21st June 1990 – World Cup in Palermo
Most people remember Italia 90 as the tournament where Gary Lineker did a poo on the pitch and Gazza crying huge salty man tears in England’s semi final defeat on penalties.
Not on this island though. We remember it for giving us the best football song ever (Put em under Pressure!) and Ireland getting to the quarter finals after four draws (something which has yet to be repeated)
The third of those was in a decisive group game against the Euro 88 champions – the Netherlands. Ireland had upset England in the opening game (not for the first time – winky emoji) but people were almost resigning themselves to defeat against Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard. It was Gullit who put the Oranje one up, but once again, Niall Quinn’s head rescued Ireland and his disco pants were born.
#2 – Italy 0-1 Ireland – 18th June 1994 – World Cup in Giants Stadium
It was the Italians that knocked Ireland out of Italia 90. Four years later and in their opening group game Jack Charlton got revenge. Forget the Super Baggio brothers and Salvatore Schillaci, Ireland had a chap from Glasgow in the ranks.
As we all know, revenge is best served with some chips, and Ray Houghton’s lob over Gianluca Pagliuca was the most delicious chip of them all. After a drunk chip of course. Nothing beats a drunk bag of chips at 4am outside a kebab shop.
But of course, that isn’t Ray Houghton’s most famous goal for Ireland…
#1 – England 0-1 Ireland – 12th June 1988 – Euro 88 in Sttutgart
Because it was he who stuck the ball into the English net six years earlier. Ireland’s first ever appearance at a major international championship and you would’ve forgiven Jack Charlton’s side for getting beaten well when drawn with the mighty England, Netherlands and the Soviet Union. It was kind of like when Tahiti qualified for the Confederations Cup a few years ago.
But it took just six minutes into theopening game against England – Ireland’s fiercest rivals- for all the critics to be silenced. Tony Galvin’s cross, John Aldridge’s knock on to Houghton who subsequently looped his header over Peter Shilton and into the net. Cue pandemonium that not even the French riot police in Marseille would’ve been able to calm.
Just a reminder to the English – you haven’t beaten us since.
With France the heavy favourites to fly past Martin O’Neill’s mean, you can understand the doom and gloom that’s slowly creeping up. They’ve got Payet, Pogba, Griezmann and Gorgeous Giroud.
But a warning for Francois Hollande, Joan of Arc, Coco Chanel, Nostradamus, Andre the Giant and especially you Pepe le Pew – don’t think that Ireland will just roll over and die like your army in a World War. We haven’t forgotten Thierry yet…