Last-gasp hero John O’Shea admits the Republic of Ireland might have caught Germany at the right time to take a significant step towards Euro 2016 qualification.
O’Shea’s injury-time equaliser in Gelsenkirchen on Tuesday evening clinched a 1-1 draw against the reigning world champions and Group D favourites three days after they suffered a shock 2-0 defeat in Poland.
However, the 33-year-old Sunderland defender knows Ireland’s timing was good with Joachim Low having had to do without Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger through injury and Andre Schurrle and Christoph Kramer because of illness.
He said: “Because of the Poland win, we felt we really needed to get something [with] Germany missing the quality they were missing.
“They still had a lot of quality on the pitch – it shows the strength they have, obviously. They have just won the World Cup, so they have quality players.
“We got something from it and hopefully Germany keep getting stronger now and beat the other teams.”
Ireland currently top the group jointly with Poland, who were held to a 2-2 home draw by Scotland on Tuesday.
They will travel to Glasgow next month in confident mood after following up their 2-1 victory in Georgia with a 7-0 demolition of Gibraltar and then the point in Germany which few had predicted they would collect.
O’Shea said: “It keeps the momentum going, that’s the big thing. A late winner against Georgia from Aiden [McGeady], and obviously all the teams who are going to qualify from the group are going to beat Gibraltar, so we had to get that done and dusted.
“Thankfully we did, no injuries picked up and we come away to Germany and pick up a point, so there’s big momentum.”
If the result at the Veltins Stadium was unexpected, particularly after Toni Kroos had given the home side a 71st-minute lead, it could hardly have been secured in more fitting circumstances with O’Shea marking his 100th appearance for the Republic with just his third international goal.
His strike sparked joyous celebrations both on and off the pitch, although he later admitted his own could do with some work.
The former Manchester United defender said: “For it to be on the night in question, the amount of caps I’d achieved and to do it in the last minute against Germany away from home was very, very special.
“The lads were obviously trying to jump all over me and I was trying to knock them off and enjoy the moment with the fans.
“But it’s one of those things. My celebrations always need a bit of work – I don’t score enough to improve them.
“We were just so delighted most importantly to take something from the game. It keeps the momentum going in the group. That’s the big thing for us and we will look forward to Scotland away next.”
Ireland had to show immense character not only to withstand a German onslaught, but to hit back in the nick of time to ensure they left with something to show for their efforts.
O’Shea later revealed O’Neill’s words both before the game and at half-time had proved inspirational, and that assistant Roy Keane had also provided invaluable advice just before kick-off.
He said: “In the warm-up, we didn’t do our usual thing. Roy just said to us, ’Look, we have done our work, we have done our preparation, just get your heads focussed’.
“We normally do a little possession beforehand, but he just said, ’No, get your heads right, we have done our preparation, relax, enjoy it. You are going to get the chance to play, but also know it is going to be hard work’, and I think you saw that with the performance everyone put in.”