01 September, 2011

10 years since 1st September 2001

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Jason McAteer bags the winner: Ireland v Holland: 1 September 2001
          10 years ago today;  the Republic of Ireland senior international football side secured their most recent great victory.  It was in fact the last time that the  "Boys in Green"  secured a victory over a Top 10 ranked nation.  The Netherlands were of course the opposition and Lansdowne Road, the venue;  a venue that was almost rocked to its ancient foundations on a most momentous ocassion.  It was a result which knocked a world class Netherlands side out of the World Cup (seven of the starting 11 having won the Champions League) and helped secure Ireland's passage to the Greatest (Football) show on Earth.
...and celebrates in style with his team-mates
          If truth be known, it was one of the luckiest results ever in international football.  Ireland should have been reduced to 10 men within the first minute after Roy Keane almost removed Marc Overmars ankles.  Patrick Kluivert then proceeded to miss a tap in for an open goal and early in the second half goalkeeper Shay Given should have seen red (and should have conceded a penalty) for a professional foul on Van Nistelrooy when the striker looked certain to score.  Amazingly, Ireland survived unpunished and without conceding.  When Ireland were eventually reduced to 10 men, it was for a silly foul in midfield by Gary Kelly just short of the hour.  Amazingly, Ireland, (who should have been down to eight men) less than 10 minutes later scored and somehow held on until the final whistle as the Dutch panicked, emptied their bench and changed to a 4-2-4 formation for the final 15 minutes!  The scenes at the final whistle were immense; though the  "handshake"  between Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy was an ominous portent of things to come.
Bono thanks the "best warm-up act U2 ever had"
           "U2's Go Home"  gig started at Slane Castle almost immediately after the game.  Guitarist Edge was at the game and chartered a flight to the venue immediately after.  The band later stated that the Ireland soccer team were the  "best warm-up act we ever had!"  as the greatest hoolee in Irish history was enjoyed late into the night.
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