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The last momentous win for Ireland in Dublin was the 1-0 victory against the Netherlands in 2001. That win was made all the more important as it provided the springboard for Ireland’s progress to a successful play-off and the subsequent World Cup.
The 1-0 win over World Champions Germany last Thursday could prove similarly pivotal for Ireland. Shane Long certainly wants it that way, especially as it was his goal that earned the victory in Lansdowne Road and gives them a shot at automatic qualification for France 2016. “It would make the goal on Thursday a bit more meaningful if it helped us get to the Euros.”
At the pre-match press conference Extratime.ie asked the Southampton striker if the fact that Ireland already have a play-off spot sown up give the players a certain amount of freedom to go for the win or the high scoring draw that would earn them qualification.
“It is always nice to know that we have the playoff but to get to this position it would be a shame not to qualify. We could get to the play-off and it would be a tough game over two legs. We view this game tomorrow as a play-off. If we win this game we are at the Euros and we don’t need to worry about anything else so that is our focus now.”
Long’s late goal in Dublin the last time out against Poland, kept Ireland in the hunt for qualification, with his strike on Thursday giving the Boys in Green every confidence that they can claim another famous victory just three days after beating the World Champions.
“The mood is good. It was a big win the other night. We were still talking about it on Friday but we’ve been focusing on this game since then. It was a great win but we need to make it mean something and the only way to do that is to qualify.
“I watched the goal back and it was nice to have the video to see it again. I made sure I hit the target and it was nice to see it go in. The last 20 minutes the clock seemed to go backwards!”
That goal surely will see the Southampton striker start the match whereas in the past he has had to make do with appearances off the bench. Either way, Long is up for whatever role he is handed by Martin O’Neill.
“You want to start each game. I’m prepared to do the job for the team. It has worked out in the past coming on against Poland and Gibraltar and last Thursday night. I’m ready whenever I am needed. I love playing for Ireland. I love pulling on that jersey.”
Sitting beside Long at the press conference was his manager Martin O’Neill who spoke about Long’s winning goal against Germany. "Shane’s goal has given us an enormous lift and a little extra energy that mightn’t have been there in the first place,” said Martin O’Neill. As good an indication as any that this time O’Neill will hand Long a starting Ireland jersey this time around.
Extratime.ie will be covering the Group D clash between Poland and Ireland from Warsaw. Our reporter Macdara Ferris will be in the Stadion Narodowy to take us through the match build-up and the game itself. Read the Polish manager's thoughts on the game here, Martin O'Neill's view here and our match preview is available here.