EURO 2016

Cheer up; Here's how Ireland can still progress at Euro 2016

EURO 2016By John Brennan
Yesterday's defeat was hard to take, but Ireland can still make the knockout phase
Yesterday's defeat was hard to take, but Ireland can still make the knockout phase

So how do the Boys in Green get out of this mess and get into the knock-out phase of Euro 2016?

Simple, they do what the heroes of Giants Stadium did and beat Italy at a major finals. Do we have a Paul McGrath, a Roy Keane, a Ray Houghton playing now?

Well if you think we don't, and most people would agree with you, it's time for a modern hero to stand up. Who will get the goal to match Houghton's lob in New York, who can give a defensive show that might go some way close to doing what Master McGrath did more than two decades ago?

But before getting the win, Ireland need two of the five other groups in the Euros to fall their way  which would leave Ireland with four points and a place in the last 16, if they can beat the Azzurri.

Only once in the history of 24-team tournaments has a team with four points not made the last 16. Of course, Ireland had to be in that group, at USA '94 when Ireland, Italy,

Norway and Mexico, all managed to win a game, draw a game and lose a game. Norway were placed fourth on goals scored and were the team to go home.

That can't happen this time because Italy have already won twice in our group.

Here we run through what we need to happen in each of the groups and we'll start with the simple ones.

Group A- This is the easiest of all tonight. We need Albania to win or draw against Romania. Then the most the third place team can have is three points.

Group C- Sadly, we need Germany to beat Northern Ireland, leaving the other Boys in Green stuck on three points. And Germany have to win the match to have a chance of topping the Group. But if Northern Ireland can keep the defeat to 1-0 or 2-1 they still might make it with us - and that's the dream!

Group D- On Tuesday night it's straightforward, we want Turkey to win or draw against the Czech Republic. Again it leaves the third placed team with a maximum three points.

Groups B and F are a bit more complicated. In England's Group B tomorrow night, we want them to win and we want Wales to at least draw with Russia. Those two results would leave the third placed team with three points.

In Group F, which concludes an hour before Ireland take to the pitch, it gets complicated. We need everybody's new heroes, Iceland, to draw with Austria. That again keeps the third placed team in that group on at least three points.

If they don't and the Austrians end Iceland's dream, we then require Portugal to batter Hungary in the other game to hammer their goal difference - or Hungary to get a draw and perhaps eliminate Ronaldo and the boys.

Yes, there is a nightmare scenario where four of the options I've outlined don't happen. I'm willing to take my chances on that.

The hard bit will be getting the win over Italy. If the Boys in Green can manage that, we will make it.