Euro Moments: Seán St Ledger gives Irish fans something to celebrate in Poland

The defender headed home Ireland’s only goal of the championships against Croatia

Ireland’s Sean St Ledger turns to celebrate after scoring past Croatia’s Stipe Pletikosa during the Euro 2012 Group C clash. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland’s Sean St Ledger turns to celebrate after scoring past Croatia’s Stipe Pletikosa during the Euro 2012 Group C clash. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Euro 2012: Ireland 1 Croatia 3

June 10th, 2012

After a decade away from major championships, Irish fans headed to Poland anticipating a party and, perhaps to an unreasonable extent, expecting the players to do their bit to keep the music playing.

Sadly it didn’t go to plan and after Giovanni Trapattoni and his side had crashed to three straight defeats the Italian’s somewhat disgruntled green and white army returned home with only one moment from a match to savour: Sean St Ledger’s first half goal against Croatia – the only one that Ireland would muster over 270 minutes of football.

Given the quality of the teams in the group, Ireland needed to beat Croatia but found themselves in something of a hole after just three minutes when some poor defending at a corner allowed Mario Mandzukic to fire his side in front.

The only saving grace was that there was a lot of time to get back into it and the Irish did just that 16 minutes later when Kevin Doyle was fouled by Vedran Corluka over on the left-hand side.

Aiden McGeady floated the resulting free kick to the far post and St Ledger stole in behind Corluka before heading past Stipe Pletikosa.

For a short spell afterwards, hope was restored in Gdansk (or Danzig, as Trapattoni kept calling it). St Ledger had only previously scored twice for Ireland but neither game had been lost and here another draw was beginning to seem more attractive with each passing minute.

The Croatians struck again just before halftime though, courtesy of Nikica Jelavic and Mandzukic then wrapped things up four minutes after the break to leave Ireland praying for a something of a miracle.

Instead, they were thumped by Spain and rather clinically dispensed with by Italy reducing the folks back at home with nothing more to take than some solace from the travelling support’s ability to sing defiantly in defeat.

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