Home Football Watch: Remembering Ireland’s Eight Play-Off Appearances

Watch: Remembering Ireland’s Eight Play-Off Appearances

The play-off route beckons once more for the Republic of Ireland having emerged in second place from a fiercely-contested Group D.  

Under Martin O’Neill Ireland have been beaten 13 different international sides and will look to extend that record against Åge Hareide’s Danish outfit.

The Boys in Green have enjoyed mixed fortunes in their previous play-offs, winning just three of the eight ties they’ve featured in.

For Irish fans who have been lucky enough to secure tickets to the away leg in the Parken Stadium, recent play-off results offer some crumbs of comfort.

Here is a quick look back at how the Boys in Green have fared in play-off action.


1966 World Cup: Spain 1-0 Ireland

While Geoff Hurst and England grabbed all the headlines in the finals of the tournament, Ireland went agonisingly close to qualifying for a first World Cup.

After the withdrawal of Syria from the competition, the Irish faced Spain on neutral soil in Paris. Atletico Madrid’s Jose Ufarte scored his first international goal as Spain advanced to the finals.


Euro 1996: Holland 2-0 Ireland

Anfield was the venue for Jack Charlton’s Ireland this time around against Guus Hiddink’s talented Dutch side.

The Charlton years were drawing to an end and despite a spirited performance, Ireland bowed out. A youthful Patrick Kluivert served notice of his prodigious talents netting both goals as the Oranje cruised to victory.


1998 World Cup: Belgium 3-2 Ireland (aggregate)

Ireland hit the front early in the first leg courtesy of an unlikely source. It was Manchester United’s Denis Irwin who would put the Boys in Green in front. The fancied Belgians replied, however, with PSV Eindhoven’s Luc Nilis restoring parity. The visitors left Dublin with a share of the spoils.

Nilis was on target again in Brussels in what was Ireland’s first two-legged play-off and a Luis Oliveira strike doubled their advantage. Ray Houghton hit back for Mick McCarthy’s men but they were still to be subjected to even more play-off heartbreak.


Euro 2000: Turkey 1-1 Ireland (aggregate; Ireland lost on away goals)

Ireland’s most decorated striker Robbie Keane edged the home side in front in a tense encounter, but despite concerted pressure Ireland could not double their advantage as the Turks grew into the game. A late Lee Carsley handball gave Turkey a lifeline with Tayfun Torkutave’s well-struck penalty gave Dean Kiely in the Irish net no chance.

Ireland were minus the services of the  suspended Robbie Keane as they travelled to the fishing port of Bursa for the second leg.

The Boys in Green huffed and puffed but could not break the stalemate as the Turks advanced on the away goals rule.


2002 World Cup: Ireland 2-1 Iran (aggregate)

Hopes were high that Ireland could finally break their play-off duck against minnows Iran. Despite having gone unbeaten in the group, Ireland had missed out on automatic qualification to Portugal on goal difference.

Goals from Ian Harte of Leeds United and Robbie Keane gave Mick McCarthy’s men a commanding lead to take to the Iranian capital. The Irish were composed and resolute and finally banished their play-off demons.

A late Yahya Golmohammadi injury-time goal offered the home fans some hope, but in truth Ireland were vastly superior, even without the services of the injured Roy Keane.


2010 World Cup: France 2-1 Ireland (aggregate)

The mercurial Nicolas Anelka gave the French a slender first leg advantage in Dublin. Ireland were positive from the off in Paris and took a deserved lead through a familiar source.

Robbie Keane finished off a superb Irish move to stun Les Bleus as Ireland entered the break with the tie on level terms.

It could, and should, have got better for the Irish as Damien Duff spurned a glorious chance to send the visitors to South Africa.

The infamous ‘Hand of Henry’ sparked national outrage and shattered Ireland’s World Cup dream.


Euro 2012: Ireland 5-1 Estonia (aggregate)

Having picked up arguably the best draw of the round, Ireland essentially sealed their place in the following summer’s tournament with a 4-0 first leg win in Estonia.

Stephen Ward’s early goal in the second leg at the Aviva Stadium killed off any hope of an Estonian comeback but to their credit the away side kept at it and a long-range strike from Konstantin Vassiljev made sure Estonia at least came away with a draw from Dublin.


Euro 2016: Ireland 3-1 Bosnia & Herzegovina (aggregate)

Bosnia & Herzegovina were expected to provide a stiff test of Ireland’s play-off credentials. As the fog descended in the mining town of Zenica, Robbie Brady put the Irish in front against the run of play.

Edin Džeko scrambled a late equaliser for the hosts but Ireland headed for the Aviva Stadium with a precious away goal in the bank.

In the second leg Jonathan Walters converted a penalty after Ireland started the game brightly. He completed the scoring with a volley past former club-mate Asmir Begovic in the final quarter, which secured Ireland’s passage to the finals in France.

Stream all 10 Sky Sports channels live with NOW TV. Grab a Day, Week or Month Pass here. No contract required.

About Eddie Ryan

Author of the bestselling Little Book of GAA Facts and The Little Book of Rugby Facts, Eddie also writes the sports column for Ireland's Own Magazine and is a contributor to Extra Time Live. A qualified life coach who lives in Templemore, County Tipperary with his fiancée Mary.