By Ger McCarthy
Martin O’Neill heaped all the praise on his players following the Republic of Ireland’s magnificent victory over Germany.
“It was a great win for us after we put our heart and soul into the game,” commented the Irish manager.
“Injury problems to Shay meant we had to make an enforced change but Darren Randolph came in and did very, very well. It was a great team effort with Shane coming off the bench to score that wonder-goal. We had to withstand a lot of pressure during the course of the game but it was an historic night for us in the end.
“We can’t afford world class players like Seamus Coleman to be missing yet Cyrus Christie comes in and does an absolutely magnificent job. Jeff Hendrick growing up as a player and Jon Walters being absolutely immense for us too.
“Shane Long has got the goal for us and what a goal it was too. He has been important for us. We had to withstand a lot of pressure and cope with it and then we started to become dangerous on the break. In the end, the players really deserved their win.
“There’s a great sprit in the dressing room and some superb performances all over the pitch tonight. The crowd were fantastic for us too especially when we were hanging on in the closing minutes. Just a splendid effort from every one of the players.
Goal-scoring hero Shane Long could hardly contain his excitement at having netted the all-important winner and was just relieved to be in the right place at the right time.
“The gaffer sent me on as there were a few tired legs out there after the big effort the lads had put in,” commented the Southampton striker.
“He just told me to try and get in behind and test them. Lucky enough a ball came through to me and I was able to finish it off. It was a great ball from Darren (Randolph) who had big boots to fill when he came on for Shay (Given) but he made some great saves and was always confident when the ball was played back to him.
“I thought myself and Johnny Walters caused them problems right up until the end but I had to hit that (winning) shot as hard as I could because Manuel Neuer is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. That makes scoring the winner even more special.”
Man of the match Wes Hoolahan was equally ecstatic with his team’s heroic efforts.
“All the boys were immense tonight and we knew it was going to be difficult straight from the off,” said Hoolahan.
“We felt we’d get a few chances on the break and lucky enough we did. Shane Long was on the end of one and took his chance. What a goal it was. The boys in the middle played super stuff too and to beat the World cup champions 1-0 here has made it a great night.”