FAI boss John Delaney is confident Ireland can still set up what he calls “a big October” in their current European Championship qualifying campaign.
Fourth in the group, Martin O’Neill’s men play back-to-back games against Gibraltar and Georgia next month and, with Delaney expecting points to be dropped among Ireland’s rivals in the same period, he reckons six points from the matches in Faro and Dublin will put the Boys in Green firmly back in contention for a shot at qualifying for France in 2016.
“They are very big games, Gibraltar away and Georgia at home,” he said at the official opening of the all-weather facility at Mounthawk Park in Tralee. “We will have to look for maximum points, obviously. But at that juncture Georgia are hosting Scotland, Scotland are hosting Germany and Germany host Poland.
“So you would expect somewhere within those games, that points would be dropped, and if we attain maximum points, it will put us right back into it, for what I would call a big October.”
Looking further ahead, to the World Cup qualifying group, the FAI chief executive even cautiously allowed for the possibility that Ireland could yet be going into that campaign on the back of a successful appearance in France.
“If we start the group well, you will draw the crowds and the hype but that is 13 months on from now and, who knows, we might be coming from the Euros and coming with a real positive bounce,” he said.
“And if not, we will be preparing for it during the first six months of next year. That scenario is 13 months away, and the qualification matches go through a period of nearly 16 or 18 months. So the more pressing matter in my mind right now — and on the manager’s mind — are the games in September.”
While Delaney retains hope Ireland can yet make the Euros, defender John O’Shea fears the 1-1 draw at home against Scotland in June could prove fatal to our qualification hopes.
O’Shea said: “We made it that bit harder with the draw against Scotland.
“I was fully convinced we were going to get the win and I thought we deserved it as well.
“Depending on how Scotland get on out in Georgia we are going to need a result against Germany or Poland and obviously I am taking into account we are going to win our next two matches.
“You win your next two games and then you see where you are from then.
“Then we have Germany at home and Poland away so we will have a clearer picture after the next two.
“But if we had of got a win against Scotland it would have cancelled out the defeat we had in Glasgow.”
Meanwhile, Ireland striker David McGoldrick has signed a new contract with Mick McCarthy’s Championship table-toppers Ipswich Town, taking him to the summer of 2018.
The 27-year-old said: “I’m delighted to have signed the contract and I’m looking forward to being part of the future here. There is a real buzz about the place at the moment and it’s great to be part of it.”
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