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22nd Nov 2019

Republic Of Ireland face a trip to Belfast to seal Euro 2020 place

James Fenton

Dust off the Gareth Keenan ‘quiet night at the library’ memes because the Republic Of Ireland face a trip to Belfast to seal a place at Euro 2020.

Bit of an obscure reference for those who aren’t fans of the undoubtedly superior version of The Office but let’s move on. After a draw this morning, we now know exactly what Mick McCarthy’s men have to do in order to join the continent-wide party next summer. Well, we said the other day that we know exactly what we had to do but now we know EXACTLY what we have to do.

We already knew we were due to play Slovakia away in a play-off semi-final but this morning’s UEFA draw has confirmed that should we get through that, we will play away from home in a final against either Northern Ireland or Bosnia And Herzegovina.

So basically, we’ll have to do something we rarely do and win away from home against half-decent opposition. TWICE. Let’s face it, the odds are probably against us but if there are any signs of encouragement, it’s the spirited performance in the 1-1 draw against Denmark on Monday night.

Should Ireland get through, it will be the fourth time that we have qualified for the European Championships. In 1988’s eight-team tournament, we narrowly missed out on the semi-finals but did record a famous victory against England. The less said about 2012 the better but we redeemed ourselves slightly in 2016.

On an emotional night in Lille, a late Robbie Brady goal (below) saw us defeat Italy 1-0 and secure a place in the last 16. There, we memorably led 1-0 at half-time against host nation France before two Antoine Griezmann goals sent us packing.

A few good memories there and with the promise of two home games at next year’s tournament if we qualify, we’ll have everything crossed to make sure we create a few more.

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