SportSoccer

Republic of Ireland still alive, but only just

SoccerBy John Brennan
Slawomir Peszko scored the Polish opener
Slawomir Peszko scored the Polish opener

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: 1 POLAND: 1

The Republic of Ireland's Euro 2016 dream is still alive, but it was oh so close to being extinguished at the Aviva Stadium.

Shane Long's injury time goal as injury time began, rescued a precious point for Ireland to keep Martin O'Neill's team in the running for a place at the Euro Finals next year on a night when the Irish dream so nearly died for good. 

Ireland deserved the draw for a great second half comeback that saw the Boys in Green hit the post twice and inspired a rousing atmosphere that was as good as anything seen at the new Lansdowne Road for a soccer international.

In the end, Ireland were relieved to get a point after Slawomir Peszko's 26th minute goal for Poland, following two Irish defensive errors, gave the visitors a well-earned lead at the break at the end of a half in which Ireland were very poor.

A strong second half fight back climaxed with substitute Long drinking the ball to the Polish net after Wes Hoolahan had flicked on a Robbie Brady corner.

Now Ireland simply must beat Scotland on June 13 to stay in the hunt for an automatic qualifying berth, with victories for Germany and the Scots on Sunday confirming that nothing more than a won against Gordon Strachan's men in the next match will do.