OpinionKevin Moran

I'd given up on qualifying but everything's change

I'd given up on qualifying but everything's change

I admit it, I had given up on Ireland qualifying for Euro 2016 when we failed to beat Poland and Scotland in home qualifiers towards the end of last season.

Now, suddenly, we are back in the game after back-to-back wins last weekend.

But let’s be honest, all we did last weekend was win two contests, against Gibraltar and Georgia, that we would have always have expected to win once this group was drawn.

Martin O’Neill and the Boys in Green are now right at the heart of the action, principally because Scotland got that old Eurovision score of ‘nil points’ on the same two Euro match-days.

And it has to be said that our days of needing a favour from others are not over – not by a long way.

Because of those failures to beat Poland and Scotland, Ireland still need the result to go our way when those two meet in Glasgow next month.

A draw or, better still, an away win is what we want.

The latter outcome will guarantee Ireland a Euro play-off and, after what we’ve been through in this roller-coaster group, I’d take your hand off right now for that.

But if Scotland triumph at Hampden Park, and remember they hold the better head-to-head record over us, Ireland will have to win either of their last two matches, home to Germany and away to Poland, to go forward.

Frankly I don’t think we are good enough to do either of those things, but we might be good enough to dig draws out.

In all my time playing for and watching Ireland, we’ve always struggled to break teams down when expected to win. It just seems to be in our DNA. 

Even when we had gifted attacking midfielders to call on, such as Liam Brady and Ronnie Whelan, our teams always had it hard trying to break down sides rated lower than us.

But put a top team in front of us and Ireland get the business done, at least in putting in the big effort to make ourselves very hard to beat.

We saw that again in Gelsenkirchen last October when Ireland played very well, very methodically, against the World Champions.

John O’Shea’s late goal, and the point it won, was a brilliant bonus from that Germany game, but it was a strong Irish display all through.

I expect the same from Ireland when we host Germany next month.

We will make ourselves hard to beat and no doubt Martin will have watched the video of Germany’s 2012 visit to Dublin where we got it all wrong in midfield, both in tactics and personnel, and were crushed 6-1.

Martin will not leave his team wide open to that fate.

Not with the likes of Thomas Muller (right), Mario Gotze and Toni Kroos lying in wait.

Joachim Low’s Germany now seem to be over the World Cup hangover that saw them play poorly enough, by their own high standards, this time last year.

It’s unfortunate that both Glenn Whelan and James McClean miss out through suspension.

Whelan would have started, playing his usual anchor role in midfield, and McClean would have been a lively option if we needed a goal late on.

And even if things go Ireland’s way  in Glasgow next month, we still need to do our own business to maintain our current, strong, UEFA ranking.

That’s because, right now, Ireland are on course for a play-off seeding.

It would mean that the likes of Israel, Hungary, Albania and Slovenia would be our potential opponents over two legs in November.

However if we don’t get something from the the matches against Germany and Poland, yet stumble into the play-offs because Scotland faltered completely, the likes of Holland, Turkey or Sweden loom.

I know which I option I would prefer.

It’s a prize worth winning, and I suspect it will loom large in the manager’s thinking over the next four weeks.