IRELAND finished the job at Lansdowne Road tonight to qualify for next year’s European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine – with a former manager saying Donegal’s Shay Given can play through to Brazil World Cup in 2014!
Eoin Hand, the manager who gave another Donegal great Packie Bonner his debut, said the Lifford man is an evergreen player who can continue to represent Ireland beyond next year.
Ireland drew 1-1 with Estonia in Dublin – winning the play-off 5-1 on aggregate.
Stephen Ward fired home the opener in the first half after keeper Pavel Londak failed to hold on to a header from Kevin Doyle.
Konstanin Vassailijev equalised with a long-range strike that Shay Given could only push into the net just before the hour.
Ever the professional Shay – the world’s most capped goalie ever – was disappointed with conceding the goal.
But it was quickly forgotten by everyone as the team celebrated qualification for their first major tournament in ten years.
Said Eoin Hand: “There’s a lot of talk about some of the senior experienced players bowing out after the Euros but I think certainly that Shay may well be 34 but he can play on and on for Ireland, there’s no doubt about that.”
Giovanni Trapattoni apologised for not winning the match – and wasn’t too bothered about conceding a goal.
“I am delighted for the fans and for the players. It is a good night,” he said after the game.
“We have a good squad now with many second options without changing the structures. This is very important.”
Asked about staying on as manager, he added: “We will speak to the FAI about our future.”
Former player Liam Brady said Ireland had a great defensive performance throughout the competition and said: “I feel guilty saying that two of the goals we did concede was down to Shay.”
Gaoth Dobhair’s Aidan McGeady was a second half substitute tonight and showed some silky skills to boot.
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