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Football

08th Oct 2015

Bloody remarkable, stupendous and all quite unbelievable

How did that just happen?

Mikey Stafford

Angela Merkel, Claudia Schiffer, Boris Becker, Sebastian Vettel, David Hasselhoff… Your boys took a hell of a beating. Your boys took a hell of a beating.

How in the name of Jesus did that just happen?

Well, there was a seriously well-drilled defence, a healthy dose of luck, an immense James McCarthy and one Shane Long with lightning in his right boot and a point to prove saw off Germany.

Bloody remarkable. Stupendous and all quite unbelieveable.

A Republic of Ireland side with a horrendous recent record against any team ranked higher than them have beaten the World’s No2 team, the reigning World Champions., a team stacked with Champions League winners.

It shouldn’t have happened but, on one of the greatest nights in Irish football, it did.

It doesn’t take an exhaustive trawl of the season’s stats to establish the playing resources available to Joachim Low are vastly superior to the Irish personnel. They’re the World Cup winners after all.

They beat Brazil 7-1. In Brazil. In a World Cup semi-final. In Brazil.

Six of the starting line-up from that Belo Horizonte massacre started in the Aviva and, beforehand, some were noting the disparity between the two teams named.

Fair enough, when you see it in black and white it looks stark.

It’s no less stark on the green of the pitch. Half-time possession stats of 66-34 and nine corners to one doesn’t do justice to the sheer dominance of the men in white.

At times Germany were playing with a front line of five players, with Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan, Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze and Mesut Ozil pinning John O’Shea and Richard Keogh against their own 18-yard line and looking to manufacture an opening via intricate one touch passing and frankly ridiculous triangles.

Ireland, when they had the ball (for approximately 12 minutes) drove it in the direction of Daryl Murphy, who was shunned by his team-mates in a positional sense.

UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 8/10/2015 Republic of Ireland vs Germany Republic of Ireland's Robbie Brady with Ilkay Gundogan of Germany Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan attempted to break the pattern with a few dribbles and at one point Hoolahan did a couple of laps of the centre circle, but this was a rearguard action.

The second half was more encouraging to begin with, before taking a trip down the rabbit hole into the realm of wonderland.

Muller missing chances Muller doesn’t miss, Cyrus Christie and Stephen Ward making miraculous blocks, Darren Randolph deputising with aplomb for the injured Shay Given.

With James McCarthy bossing it in midfield, against Toni Kroos, Ireland showed more endeavour and actually enjoyed a little time and possession in the German half.

That goal though, that wonderful, wonderful Long thunder-bastard of a goal was not about possession or camping in the German half, it was a throwback.

A throwback to the days when Packie Bonner would hump it long, Caz or Quinny would knock it down and Aldridge or Houghton would chase, but this long ball went direct to Long and he showed the cleanest of clean heels to outsprint the German defence and thump the ball across the world’s best goalkeeper.

The rear guard action wasn’t even that excruciating. It was no Giants Stadium 1994.

In fact, considering the lack of expectation and the quality of the opposition, it was much, much sweeter.

Still not sure how it happened though.

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