This year's UEFA Nations League has come to an end, with Ireland hanging onto their spot in 'League B' with a win over Armenia in Dublin last night . The campaign did not play out the way Stephen Kenny would have hoped. He said that his side would be aiming to earn promotion from their group, something that would have guaranteed them a second seeding for the Euro 2024 qualifying draw.
Instead, they will have to make do with a place in Pot 3. The draw for the qualifying groups will take place on October 9th, with each of the six pots now confirmed.
Here they are in full.
Euro 2024 qualifying draw pots
Pot 1: Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Croatia, Portugal, Poland, Switzerland
Pot 2: Wales, England, Bosnia, Israel, France, Austria, Scotland, Finland, Serbia, Czech Republic
Pot 3: Sweden, Armenia, Romania, Slovenia, Ireland, Montenegro, Iceland, Albania, Ukraine, Norway
Pot 4: Turkey, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Greece, Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo
Pot 5: Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Cyprus, Belarus, Lithuania, Gibraltar, Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, Malta
Pot 6: Andorra, San Marino, Lichtenstein
Ireland's chances of reaching Euro 2024 will largely be determined by the draw they receive.
The top two teams in each group will advance automatically to the finals in Germany, with the play-off places being filled by the countries that finished highest in this year's UEFA Nations League that did not qualify for the tournament automatically.
Considering all of that, there are the best and worst case scenarios for Ireland in the draw.
Best Case Scenario
Poland, Finland, Ireland, Faroe Islands, Malta, San Marino.
There are no bad teams in pot one, but you'd probably fancy taking on Poland if you had the pick of them. They have some excellent players, with Robert Lewandowski chief amongst them, although you could see Ireland picking up points against them somewhere along the way if they performed on the night.
Another couple of games against the Scots could appeal considering we have already beaten them this year, but Finland would be ideal here. While they were better than Ireland in the UEFA Nations League in 2020, the team has grown significantly since then. If push came to shove, you could fancy Kenny's side to finish above them in a group and nab second place.
The Faroe Islands have made serious strides in their development in recent times, but they remain the most favourable team to draw among the fourth sides. Anything less than six points from two fixtures against them would be seen as a massive underachievement.
Malta or Gibraltar would presumably be the weakest in pot 5, although we're a bit sick of playing the latter.
Only three groups will feature teams from the final pot, with San Marino having the worst record of those nations.
Worst Case Scenario
Spain, France, Ireland, Turkey, Slovakia, Andorra.
Considering that only three groups will have have a sixth team, taking Andorra out of this group would arguably make it an even worse draw when you realise that it would stop the team from building momentum from a couple of likely wins.
Spain are probably the most formidable team in Pot 1 as things stand, with Luis Enrique having a very impressive blend of youth and experience in the side. Belgium are the others ones to avoid if possible.
Drawing France as seconds seeds would be an absolute nightmare. They are arguably the most talented team in the world, and while they have been in poor form recently, you could not foresee any type of scenario where Ireland would finish ahead of them in a qualifying group. England would also be a far from ideal pairing.
Turkey are notoriously hit and miss, but they there is no doubt that they have the most talent in their squad out of the fourth seeds. A trip to Istanbul is also a daunting prospect at the best of times.
As for Slovakia, we saw back in the Euro 2020 play-off that they can be a match for Ireland. They won on a penalty shootout on that occasion, something they did without their best player on the night in Milan Skriniar.
You can take your pick out of the final pot, although Andorra are probably slightly stronger than the other two.
In all, we could kiss a top two finish goodbye if this was the draw.
The Most Irish Group
Denmark, Wales, Ireland, Georgia, Gibraltar, Andorra.
On a side note, that would be the most Irish draw of all-time.
You could bank Ireland in for at least five 1-1 draws.
That first draw would be ideal for Ireland, who would harbour real hopes of finishing inside the top two positions.
On the other hand, the worst case scenario would leave little prospect of qualifying automatically.
Here's hoping the actual draw is closer to the former than the latter.