The Republic of Ireland national team have had many unexpected and important wins over the years. Ahead of another crucial game against Slovakia in the playoffs, one such memorable night was in 2015 against Germany at the Aviva. The Boys in Green pulled off a shock 1-0 victory that night which surprised the footballing world. Many memories were made in that game for Irish fans, including myself. Who could forget the scenes when Shane Long hit the back of the German net. All Irish supporters will be hoping for similar victories in March to bring Ireland to another European Championship.
It was the 8th of October 2015, Ireland needed a result against current World Champions Germany to keep their Euro 2016 qualification hopes alive. Irish fans arrived in Dublin with optimism but knew Martin O’Neill’s team were going to be up against it. Germany came to the Aviva with a full strength squad and manager Joachim Low expected nothing but a victory. The game was a sell out, with no spare tickets in sight. Irish fans made the Aviva stadium a fortress, all in hope for a famous night.
The chanting and singing were ever present as the match kicked off. “Come on you Boys in Green” roared around the stadium as Ireland defended superbly on each German attack. The crowd suddenly went into silence when Mesut Ozil hit the back of the net past Irish keeper Shay Given half way through the first half. Fortunately for Ireland, the linesmen flagged for offside and the goal was disallowed. A couple of minutes later, Given was replaced by Darren Randolph, after picking up an injury. Little did Randolph know, he was to become one of the many heroes on the night.
The second half started much the same, with Germany putting on more and more pressure with each attack on the Irish defence. Captain John O’Shea and Richard Keogh were defending bravely in centre back resisting forwards such as Thomas Muller and Marco Reus. As the game went on, Irish fans were getting more encouraged by their team’s display and believed a result was achievable. The chanting in the Boys in Green army was now getting louder as the minutes ticked by. We all believed the impossible was starting to become possible.
Two substitutes made the difference on the night that will go down in Irish football folklore. A long clearance from Darren Randolph surpassed German centre backs Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. It was raced onto by Irish striker Shane Long. As the saying goes, the rest is history. The Tipperary man finished emphatically passed Manuel Neuer, who had no chance of stopping the strike into the top corner. The crowd erupted; the Irish support went into mayhem as Shane Long was mobbed by his team mates. Martin O’Neill jumped with joy as he knew Ireland were now 20 minutes from a historic win.
The last quarter of the game felt like a lifetime. It was attack against defence as Germany piled on the pressure. Randolph pulled off a great string of saves to keep the Germans at bay. The stadium was rocking; chants of “ole, ole, ole” could be heard for miles. The enthusiasm of qualifying for the Euros was starting to kick in. “We’re going to qualify” rang around the Aviva, Ireland were only a few minutes away from getting 3 points off the World Champions.
The wait was over. The referee blew the full time whistle. Ireland pulled off the impossible; the Irish fans couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed. The chanting continued as the players applauded their faithful supporters. As the fans left the stadium, the singing progressed onto the streets and pubs. What a night for Irish football, a game that will certainly go down in football history and live long in the mind of Irish fans. Hopefully there will be plenty more of these results in the near future, starting with the playoffs in March.