Monday, 18 December, 2017

James McClean sends Ireland into the World Cup play-offs

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Kristopher Love | 11 October, 2017, 03:22

McClean has been crucial to the Republic of Ireland's campaign this year, providing four goals during the group stage, including winners against Moldova and Austria.

They are now in the play-offs for a place in the 2018 tournament but for Wales it is another case of "so near and yet so far".

Ireland are now just 180 minutes from reaching the World Cup finals for the first time since 2002 and will face a seeded side over two legs during next month's worldwide break. "Whenever the draw is made we will take our chance". In the event neither result worked in their favour. The game is on Sky Go in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Anyway, after going behind, Wales turned the screw for the remainder of the match - half-an-hour that "seemed like an eternity" according to Ireland manager Martin O'Neill - but the visitors puffed out their chests and held firm.

"I think our approach will be similar to the one that we had against Italy in Lille where we knew before the game that a win was the only thing that mattered for us".

'I don't think everybody would want to play us, ' said McClean. There is also a feeling, even aside from the disappointment of Monday night, that his time with Wales has simply come to an end.

"Right now all I can think about, picture in my mind, is the faces of the players in the dressing room and the disappointment".

An onslaught was expected in the final 30 minutes at the Millennium Stadium but, in truth, the Welsh struggled to test Darren Randolph in the Irish goal.

Having come so close to qualifying, Welsh football his hurting from Monday's defeat, and questions are now being asked about manager Chris Coleman's future.

'It's a shame for us, a hard one, but we've got no complaints, ' Coleman said. Some you win and some you lose. Regardless of who wins their huge match tonight, Ireland will want to steer clear.

"We missed Joe", he said.

After suffering only one defeat in the qualification and turning a struggling nation into giant-slayers on the world stage - Coleman has done his global reputation no damage at all.