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.
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