Irish team steal Leo Varadkar’s thunder with playoff date

Martin was thrilled with Ireland’s World Cup playoff draw — Leo less so.

With the Boys in Green breathing a sigh of relief having been paired with Denmark, the Blueshirts were cursing after confirmation that the first leg in Copenhagen will clash with the Taoiseach’s televised address to Fine Gael Ard Fheis on November 11.

So while Ireland will take to the pitch in the Parken Stadium at 7.45pm on that Saturday evening for the make or break tie live on RTÉ 2, Mr Varadkar will take to the podium at the same time on RTÉ 1.

The Fine Gael press office is so confident their man can still draw a crowd, it said there were no plans to rescheduled his address.

For Martin O’Neill, yesterday’s draw was a win win situation — drawn against Denmark and avoiding four-time winners Italy and star-studded Croatia.

A James McClean goal was enough for the Republic to beat Wales last week to seal their spot as runners-up in Group D.

Denmark missed out on the 2014 World Cup but finished second in Group E behind Poland this time as they look to book their fifth appearance at the finals.

And while Martin O’Neill insists it is still a tough ask, he did admit to satisfaction at missing out on a tie against the Azzurri.

“Naturally as an unseeded team the draw was going to be difficult,” he told Sky Sports News.

“I’m delighted to be drawn away from home first. Italy were in the group and I suppose if you were to ask all of the unseeded coaches, none of us would have wanted to play Italy.”

Northern Ireland will face Switzerland, a fixture boss Michael O’Neill said his side was capable of winning over 180 minutes. In the other two playoff fixtures, Croatia will play Greece, with Italy facing Sweden.


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