Martin O'Neill deserves all the glory as Ireland qualify

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Ireland's management dream team deliver glory
Ireland's management dream team deliver glory

What night for Martin O'Neill, what a night for Irish soccer. Savour the moment - we are off to Euro 2016!

Let's be honest, all of us have written off this Ireland team at some point in the last couple of years, with their lack of quality shining through every time they take to the field. Yet they have earned the right to be back among the teams that matter when the next major championships roll around. 

For that, O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane should take a chunk of the praise as their triumph is as unexpected as it is merited. Each and every one of the players they picked for these play-off games against Bosnia did their manager and our country proud and whatever happens from this point forward, let’s not forget that.

Gutsy, determined and oozing with desire, this was an Ireland team that would not be beaten and as the final whistle confirmed what had become our inevitable progress to Euro 2016, our pride was not misplaced.

For O'Neill, this was a moment that he has worked so hard to achieve and his pride as he summed up his emotions in a typically calm manner was shared by a nation that shed a tear of joy to toast his achievement.

"I couldn't be more proud of this team," stated O'Neill.

"They have been absolutely fantastic right from the start when Aiden McGeady scored to win us our opening qualifier in Georgia. I thought then that the points could be crucial. 

"I hold the players in the highest esteem. They don't have everything, but courage and determination are things they have in abundance.

"This is a very, very special night. It's been a long road. 12 games and we have been beaten twice in the competition. When I look back, I will see it as a very, very proud moment.

"We will now have a massive contingent going to France. I saw the days when Jack Charlton and Mick McCarthy took teams there and I would love to emulate that."

O'Neill also offered up special words of praise for his assistant Roy Keane, as he paid this fulsome tribute to a sidekick that has served him well in his time as Ireland boss.

"You talk about big decisions and bringing Roy Keane in is as good as a decision I have made in quote some time," stated the manager.

"He has been absolutely enormous for us and the rest of the back room staff have been great as well. Roy is not taking too many of the accolades, but he has been fantastic for myself, the staff and all the players."