Sporting Advent Calendar #7: Ireland stun world champions in Dublin

Shane Long scores the only goal as Martin O’Neill’s team beat Germany in the Aviva

Several managers came and went without guiding Ireland to a competitive win over a qualification rival and it sometimes seemed as though we might forever be harking back to that day in September 2001 when Jason McAteer’s goal against Dutch prompted complaints of daylight robbery as Louis van Gaal and his players prepared to head for the airport.

With Ireland's hopes of getting to a major championship again in urgent need of a shot in the arm, it was Shane Long who scored the goal required to beat the world champions who proved surprisingly graceless in defeat considering that they remained on course to top the qualification group. That, for some, was the icing on the cake.

Joachim Löw was reduced to whinging about Ireland's reliance on the long ball but his own side's failure to put away their chances might just have been eating away at him deep down. The Irish defended pretty heroically but Mesut Ozil still should have had a goal in the first half, Thomas Müller in the second. Instead, it was Long who grabbed one completely against the run of play with Darron Randolph marking his competitive international debut with an assist.

As his shot flew beyond Manuel Neuer and in, the stadium came alive in a way that younger fans cannot have imagined was possible and one FAI official who was working deep in the bowels of the place said that when he heard the noise and felt the place shake, he knew something great had happened.


There was still almost half an hour to go when Ireland went ahead and few would have predicted with any confidence that the Irish would successfully defend their lead. For all their possession, though, the Germans didn’t manage to work Randolph especially hard at all. By the final whistle, Ireland’s hopes of going to France had, like Martin O’Neill’s standing, been hugely boosted.

Half an hour after it, the bar trade around Lansdowne Road was booming again too.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times