UEFA, a sound bunch of lads. The draw for Euro 2020 qualifying has been made, and the Republic of Ireland have received a reasonably favourable group.
Mick McCarthy's side were placed in Group D alongside Switzerland, Denmark, Georgia and Gibraltar. We know all about the capabilities of the Danes, while Switzerland also possess a very talented side. Not easy, but it certainly could have been a lot worse.
It almost was. Ireland were originally drawn into Group C alongside Netherlands and Germany but managed to bypass the group due to a UEFA bylaw. We have our status as a Euro 2020 host nation to thank for it.
The official Euro 2020 Qualifying Draw rulebook states the following:
In order to allow all twelve UEFA EURO 2020 host association teams to have a chance of qualifying as group winner or group runner-up, a maximum of two such teams can be drawn into the same group.
The following draw condition applies:
If one UEFA EURO 2020 host association team is or could be drawn into a group which already contains two such teams, the team drawn is placed in the first available group in alphabetical order as indicated by the computer.
Gasps in Dublin as Ireland appear to be drawn into a group with Germany and Netherlands but they quickly turn to cheers as the two-hosts only rule means we move to Group D instead #Euro2020draw pic.twitter.com/Q6FVnKkHf1
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) December 2, 2018
As Netherlands and Germany are also Euro 2020 host nations, Ireland were unable to be drawn into the same group as the pair. This saw us moved down into Group D, which we were absolutely fine with.
Northern Ireland are probably not as thrilled about the rule, as they took the place left open in Group C. Unlucky lads.
The rule actually makes a lot of sense, as it would make for a fantastic tournament should all 12 host nations make the finals. It is still unlikely, but at least this ruling means it has the chance of coming to fruition.