Now, as the adrenaline abates and the realisation sinks in that Ireland, ranked 54th in the world, have beaten the World Cup holders, there’s more good news — we get another bumper day of nail-biting sport tomorrow on Super Sunday.
Boys in Green, in two codes, will be aiming to take major steps on the world and European stages, with places in the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup and qualification for next year’s football European Championships at stake.
Animated reactions the world over, from singers Niall Horan to Justin Bieber, from football great Gary Lineker to President Michael D Higgins followed as Ireland’s win over Germany sent shockwaves across the globe. The video of Shane Long’s famous goal has been viewed millions of times within 24 hours.
While congratulating the Northern Ireland team on its qualification, on Thursday night, and paying tribute to Tipp man Long and the Republic of Ireland team, President Higgins was full of praise for the Irish fans.
“The fans came into it in a big way, I never heard them better. They all rose to the fact that there was something within our grip,” he told Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ Radio 1.
The next 24 hours will see an exodus of Irish sports fans to Wales and Poland — if they haven’t left already.
Dublin Airport confirmed 80 extra flights will help carry almost 11,000 fans to Cardiff this weekend.
Joe Schmidt’s charges have already qualified for the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup but tomorrow is no mere formality. The winner of the clash with France will top Pool D, while a draw will favour Ireland due to our superior points’ difference.
Topping the group is all the more important as the team that finishes second are likely to face a stern test against the All Blacks, while the Pool D winners will probably have a less daunting, but still challenging encounter with Argentina.
The task at hand for Martin O’Neill’s men, meanwhile, is simple in one way and complicated in another.
A win tomorrow would see us guaranteed a place in Euro 16, a loss would consign us to a play-off for a place in the tournament against the third-placed team in one of the other qualifying groups.
With the Republic of Ireland tied on points with Poland, a draw in Warsaw complicates matters. UEFA’s tie breaker for teams tied on points is based on their head-to-head record.
As we have already drawn with Poland at home, a second draw would see both teams have the same head-to-head results, head-to-head goal difference and goals scored against each other.
The fourth tie-breaking criteria, however, determines that the team with the higher number of goals scored away from home in the matches between the two will go through.
A scoreless or 1-1 draw tomorrow would see Poland go through, as they have a single away goal from the draw in Dublin and a better goal difference overall. Should the match finish a draw where both teams score two or more goals, however, Ireland would secure second place.
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