FAI History: The Present Day

FAI History: The Present Day

Prior to the 2008 European Championship qualifying campaign, the FAI unveiled the joint management team of former player Stephen Staunton and ex-England manager Bobby Robson. 
5th Jun 2009

Prior to the 2008 European Championship qualifying campaign, the FAI unveiled the joint management team of former player Stephen Staunton and ex-England manager Bobby Robson.

The new management team enjoyed a dream start when Ireland comfortably defeated Sweden 3-0 at Lansdowne Road, with Damien Duff, Robbie Keane and Liam Miller getting on the scoresheet. The World Cup campaign opened with a tricky visit to Germany, with Ireland narrowly losing 1-0.

Victories over San Marino, Wales and Slovakia saw Ireland challenge for second place in the qualification table. However, draws against Slovakia, Germany and Cyprus, combined with a defeat to the Czech Republic, saw Ireland fail to qualify for the World Cup.

Failure to qualify for the World Cup saw Staunton's time in charge of the team come to an end, with Under-21 manager Don Givens taking the role in a caretaker capacity.

On May 1st, 2008, Giovanni Trapattoni was unveiled as the new manager of the Republic of Ireland.

Following a training camp in Portugal, friendly matches were played against Serbia in Croke Park and Columbia in Craven Cottage resulting in a 1-1 draw and a 1-0 victory respectively. On August 20, the team travelled to Norway where they held Norway to a 1-1 draw in the last match before the start of the 2010 World Cup qualification campaign.

On September 6 the Republic of Ireland opened their challenge in the qualifying tournament of the World Cup by giving manager Giovanni Trapattoni his first victory when they beat Georgia 2-1 in Mainz, Germany. The match was played in Mainz after FIFA moved the fixture because of war in Georgia. On September 10, Ireland earned a 0-0 draw against Montenegro in a high tempo game in Podgorica.

On October 15, a 5th minute strike from Robbie Keane earned Giovanni Trapattoni's side a 1-0 victory against Cyprus in Croke Park to finish the year with 7 points out of a possible 9 in our bid for World Cup qualification. On November 19, the Republic of Ireland played Poland in a home international friendly, and lost 3-2 despite two goals from Stephen Hunt and Keith Andrews in the last five minutes of play.

2009 started with a 2-1 victory over Georgia in Croke Park on February 11, both goals scored by Robbie Keane, followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Bulgaria on March 28, after an unlucky own goal was conceded in the 74th minute. Four days later on April 1, the team faced Italy in Bari and came away with a well earned 1-1 draw thanks to a Robbie Keane strike in the 87th minute.

On May 29, a largely experimental side held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw in Craven Cottage, London before travelling to Sofia on June 6 where the team came away with a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria leaving Ireland second in Wolrd Cup Qualification Group 8 on 13 points, one point behind World Champions, Italy who have a game in hand.

Thomond Park, Limerick, was the venue for two preparatory friendlies for Ireland on August 12 when they were defeated 3-0 by Australia and on September 8 when Liam Lawrence opened his account for Ireland against South Africa in a 1-0 win. In between these friendlies, Ireland travelled to Cyprus where they collected a crucial three points in Group 8 with a 2-1 win. Kevin Doyle scored after 6 minutes while Robbie Keane secured the win in the 83rd minute.

Ireland concluded their Group 8 qualifying campaign with two games at home to Italy on October 10 and Montenegro on October 14. In an exciting contest, Ireland looked to have secured a historic win over Italy with goals from Glenn Whelan on 8 minutes and Sean St. Ledger taking the scoreline to 2-1 in the 87th minute. However, Italy came back three minutes later to bring the final score to 2-2. Four days later Ireland drew 0-0 with Montenegro to secure second place in Group 8 with 18 points and a play off place for the World Cup finals.

On November 14, Ireland hosted France in the home leg of the play off. A Nicolas Anelka goal in the 72nd minute meant that Ireland travelled to Paris needing to beat the French. Robbie Keane scored after 33 minutes to make the tie level on aggregate and forcing the game into extra time. However, Ireland's hopes were dashed in the 14th minute of extra time when William Gallas put France ahead on aggregate. The goal caused controversy worldwide as France striker, Thierry Henry, had clearly handled the ball in the lead up to the goal. Sadly for Ireland, the goal stood, and it was France that booked their place to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup finals.

On February 7, Ireland were drawn in qualfiying Group B for the 2012 European Championships where they will compete against Russia, Slovakia, FYR Macedonia, Armenia and Andorra to win a place in the European Championship finals. Despite not qualifing for the World Cup finals, Ireland can begin this new chapter with confidence having performed admirably throughout the World Cup qualifying campaign.

The campaign went well and saw Ireland qualify for the European Championships for the first time since 1988 following away and home play off matches against Estonia.

Sadly EURO 2012 did not go well for Giovanni Trapattoni with Ireland drawn alongside Spain (eventual winners), Italy (eventual runners up) and highly rated Croatia. Ireland lost all three matches and following the tournament Damien Duff announced his decision to retire from international fooball.

Qualification of the World Cup in Brazil was the next goal and Ireland were drawn in a group alongside Germany, Sweden, Austria, Kazakhstan and the Faroe Islands.

AFTER the emotional roller-coaster of Euro 2012, the beginning of the 2012-13 season for the senior international men’s team was a friendly away to Serbia in Belgrade and the first seeds of the rebirth of the national team were sown with a hard-fought scoreless draw.

Although no new caps were handed out that day the likes of James McCarthy and James McClean were handed starts while Seamus Coleman came off the bench. With the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign coming up quickly on the horizon manager Giovanni Trapattoni had to turn his thoughts to the future once Euro 2012 had been reviewed.

The first game of the World Cup qualifying campaign was a potential ‘banana skin’ fixture for the Boys in Green as they travelled to Astana in September to face Kazakhstan on an artificial surface. A 37th minute goal from Kazakh skipper Kairat Nurdauletov put the home side ahead and it was not until very late that the Irish leveled through a Robbie Keane penalty after excellent work by Kevin Doyle.

Doyle then grabbed the precious three points with the match-winner in injury-time when he drillled home spectacularly after a ball delivered into the box by Glenn Whelan was met by the head of Stephen Ward and his knock down found the predatory Doyle.

Four days later the Irish team travelled to London where they met Oman in a friendly game at Craven Cottage. Trapattoni handed debuts to Robbie Brady, David Forde, David Meyler, Darren Randolph and Alex Pearce. Shane Long, Brady, Doyle and Pearce all scored in a comfortable 4-1 win.

Unfortunately the next Irish result was one of the most painful losses we have suffered in many years when a very impressive Germany side ran out 6-1 winners in a very one-sided encounter at the Aviva Stadium. Doubles from Marco Reus and Toni Kroos plus finished from Mesut Ozil and Miroslav Klose gave the Germans and emphatic victory. Andy Keogh’s late goal was scant consolation.

Given the frustration of the defeats shipped at Euro 2012, that loss to the Germans poured a lot of pressure on the Irish management team and it was with great relief that the Irish squad responded extremely well to that pressure by winning 4-1 in Torshavn four days later. Marc Wilson, Jon Walters, Darren O’Dea and an own goal from Pol Justinussen secured the three points.

A friendly loss to Greece in November was a footnote on a disappointing 12 months for the national team that had begun so brightly with them heading to our first major tournament in ten years but the gap to the next friendly against Poland in February gave everybody due time for reflection and the management and players entered 2013 with renewed enthusiasm.

The Poland friendly provided the new year with a positive start as goals by Ciaran Clark and Wes Hoolahan helped the Irish to a 2-0 win in a game that saw Conor Sammon, Jeff Hendrick and Richard Keogh make their Ireland debuts.

Ireland’s World Cup qualification campaign got back on track in March against Sweden, playing indoors at the Friends Arena in Stockholm and the Irish produced a very impressive display against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Co to secure a credible away point with a 0-0 draw.

Next up were Austria in Dublin and it was obvious that belief was returning to Trapattoni’s side. They delivered a battling performance and showed real character to come back from conceding an early goal to Martin Harnik to take a 2-1 lead just before half-time thanks to two goals from Jonathon Walters.

Walters scored from the penalty spot in the 24 minute after Shane Long was pulled down by Emanuel Pogatetz then added his second of the night on the stroke of half-time when Whelan’s corner was met by Walters whose header went in off the back post. Unfortunately a vital win was denied when Bayern Munich star David Alaba scored with a powerful shot in the dying moments.

While the ultimate result was not what the Irish wanted it was clear that a corner had been turned with a side that was now dramatically different to the team that had played at Euro 2012 and next up was a friendly against England at Wembley Stadium. A passionate Irish crowd was treated to a similarly determined display from the national team as Long scored a cracking goal in a 1-1 draw.

The ‘feel good’ factor continued when Georgia visited the Aviva Stadium for a friendly the following weekend. The visitors had goalkeeper Giorgi Loria dismissed for a professional foul early on and a dominant Ireland firmly pressed home their numerical advantage with goals from Richard Keogh, Simon Cox and a double from substitute Robbie Keane on his 125th appearance for his country.

Keane’s influence on the national team was in further evidence when the Faroes came to Dublin for the return qualifier and the Irish skipper grabbed an impressive hat-trick in a comfortable 3-0 win that was further evidence of the confidence amongst the Irish squad as they remain focused on qualifying for next year’s World Cup finals.

The final senior international fixture of the season was a prestige friendly against World champions Spain at Yankee Stadium in New York. With memories still fresh of the emphatic victory by the Spanish at Euro 2012, the Irish side restored a bit of pride with a disciplined display. Although they lost 2-0 thanks to late goals from Roberto Soldado and Juan Mata, a marginal offside call had denied Sean St Ledger an equalizer.

The 2013/14 season saw a change of management team with Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli leaving at the end of September after a 1-0 defeat to Austria that ended Ireland’s chances of qualification to the World Cup in Brazil. Noel King took charge of the senior team for the two matches that followed before Martin O’Neill was appointed new Republic of Ireland manager in November with Roy Keane as his assistant.

Giovanni Trapattoni opened the season using the now defunct FIFA August friendly date to play Wales in Cardiff. Wes Hoolahan started in midfield behind Shane Long as lone striker and despite creating three clear chances in front of goal and controlling the majority of play, Ireland ended the match 0-0.

With the group finely balance and Ireland still in contention for qualification, the next match against Sweden was crucial. Robbie Keane put Ireland ahead after 22 minutes with his 60th international goal which was brilliant piece of individual determination, pouncing on an understrength back-header from Mikael Lustig and nudging the ball past the advancing Isaksson. The ball rebounded off the post and when the two Swedish defenders failed to clear, the alert Keane, having picked himself off the ground, pounced to score.

Sadly it was just 11 minutes before Johan Elmander equalised. When Anders Svensson gave Sweden the lead after 57 minutes the Irish players struggled to find a way through a resolute visiting defence and the Swedes held on for a vital victory that dealt a massive blow to hopes of qualification.

Ireland’s fate was sealed days later in Vienna when David Alaba smashed the ball into the roof of the Irish net on the 84th minute and despite a number of chances on either side, neither team would go on to qualify from the group.

The following day Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli, who had been with the Irish set up since 2008 parted company with the Association and the search was on to find a new manager to guide Ireland through the EURO 2016 campaign.

Noel King came in to provide cover for the last of the competitive matches in the World Cup qualification campaign, overseeing  a 3-0 loss to Germany that was Ireland’s 500th international match and a 3-1 win over Kazakhstan at Aviva Stadium.

On November 5, Martin O’Neill was appointed Manager of the men’s senior team and was joined by former team captain Roy Keane as his Assistant manager and Seamus McDonagh as goalkeeping coach, replacing the long standing Alan Kelly in the position.

The first game in charge for the new manager came on November 15 as he inherited a squad picked by Noel King before him. Goals from Robbie Keane, Aiden McGeady and Shane Long and a match played high up the field  made for an entertaining debut evening in front of almost 40,000 supporters. The second match against Poland in Poznan four days later was a highly competitive friendly with both sides creating chances throughout but ending in a 0-0 draw.

Eyes now turned to February and the UEFA EURO 2016 draw which took place in Nice. The Republic of Ireland were second seeds and although qualification places for the finals in France had increased from 16 to 24 spots, Ireland was dealt a tough group containing Gemany, Poland, Scotland, Georgia and Gibraltar. Commenting after the draw, Martin O’Neill felt Germany would prove to be the outstanding team in the group with Ireland, Poland, Scotland and Georgia likely to battle it out for the remaining qualification places.

Martin O’Neill got time to work with his players again in March and recognised that all of the games to come prior to September would give him valuable time to shape the team and prepare it for the challenge of qualification in the Autumn. The emphasis would be on trying out a range of players to arrive in September fully prepared for the challenges in store.

The first of these matches came in March against 29th ranked Serbia at home ended in a 2-1 defeat  after Ireland went ahead thanks to a Shane Long goal in the first half. Ireland showed promise by continuing to create the better chances in the game with Long, McClean and Wilson all going frustratingly close. Serbia drew level early in the second half when James McCarthy put the ball into his own net attempting to stop striker Dordevic from an easy finish. Further good efforts from Long and Meyler weren’t enough however and Serbia claimed the honours on the hour mark when Doredevic made it 2-1 to the visitors.

It was to be a similar tale again in May when Turkey provided the challenge for Martin O’Neill’s men when despite playing the better football, particularly in the first half , Ireland were beaten 2-1.  Shane Long, Stephen Ward, John O’Shea, Wes Hoolahan, and James McClean all went close with efforts. Turkey however were the more clinical side and Ahmet Ilhan Ozek found the net on 17 minutes with a close-range header past Rob Elliot who was making his senior debut. A second came after 75 minutes when Camdal made an instant impact as substitute, converting past Elliot after a clever pass from Ozyakup. It took only three minutes for Ireland to respond as Walters connected with a long pass from Hoolahan and turned past the last defender before firing in a superb shot but despite sustained Irish pressure in the dying minutes of the game a second equalizing goal couldn’t be found.

It was on to Craven Cottage in London on May 31 where the Irish team played an excellent match to draw 0-0 against World Cup bound Italy. With numerous chances created on both sides, the best of them fell to Ireland in a game that saw Jeff Hendrick shine in mid-field. The only sour note of the evening was caused by the news that AC Milan captain Riccardo Montolivo would miss the World Cup due to an injury sustained against in a challenge from Alex Pearce.

The Irish team then travelled to the USA to play an opening game against Costa Rica who were Brazil bound and in the same group as Italy and England. Ireland should have won this encounter which ended in a 1-1 draw at Philadelphia’s Union Stadium. With Shane Duffy making his debut at centre half alongside Richard Keogh and Stephen Kelly and Marc Wilson playing at right and left back Martin O’Neill was true to his word in changing his starting XI almost entirely compared to the previous match against Italy in Craven Cottage. Kevin Doyle started up front alongside Robbie Keane and it was Doyle who got Ireland’s only goal in the 18th minute when he got on the end of a well delivered cross from Marc Wilson to steer his effort past the outstretched Navas in the Costa Rican goal. Shortly before half time, Costa Rica had Gonzalez sent off for a challenge on Kevin Doyle and Marc Wilson had to be substituted at left back by an out of position James McClean. Costa Rica came out fighting in the second half and despite their numerical disadvantage actually played much better than they had in the opening 45 minutes and drew level from a penalty  taken by Celso Borges.

The last of Ireland’s summer friendlies played at the MetLife stadium New York proved a difficult night that resulted in a sobering  5-1 defeat against a classy Portuguese side. Ireland’s only goal of the evening was scored by James McClean, getting his first in a green jersey.

Ireland now look ahead to the EURO 2016 qualification opener against Georgia in Tblisi on September 7 after a warm up match in Aviva Stadium on September 3 against Oman.