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The 7 Most Important Numbers In Irish International Football

The 7 Most Important Numbers In Irish International Football
By Michael McCarthy
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If you haven't heard, there's a fairly massive EuroMillions jackpot tonight, guaranteed to be at least €190 million!

Now, we all have our own selection of lucky numbers, be they birthdays or even house numbers - but they've never worked for us before, so it's time for a new method. Given the other events that will have us all on edge this week are Ireland's floundering World Cup hopes and the need for six points against Moldova and Wales - we wanted to look to the most important numbers in Irish football history to decide on our own selection.

It wasn't an easy choice.

Even the slightest error in judgement will ruin our chances of winning the EuroMillions jackpot, so this is serious business. That said, after much debate and arguing, we've finally decided on the seven most important numbers in Irish football, and tonight's lucky EuroMillions numbers!


Starting with number....


Let's face it, if you're talking about Irish football, 1 is the only place to start.


To be more accurate, it's 1-0. Our favourite scoreline. The scoreline of almost all great victories in modern Irish history.

Let's take our famous 3-0 win over the USSR in Dalymount in 1974 as a starting point. Since then, Ireland have had 18 what we could call "big" victories - that's competitive games against a real contender who we wouldn't be expected to automatically beat.



In those 18 games, one scoreline comes up again and again...

1977 - Ireland 1-0 France

1980 - Ireland 2-1 Holland


1981 - Ireland 3-2 France

1984 - Ireland 1-0 USSR

1987 - Scotland 0-1 Ireland


1987 - Ireland 2-0 Bulgaria

1988 - Ireland 1-0 England

1989 - Ireland 1-0 Spain


1994 - Ireland 1-0 Italy

1995 - Ireland 1-0 Portugal

1998 - Ireland 2-0 Croatia


1999 - Ireland 2-1 Yugoslavia

2001 - Ireland 1-0 Holland

2001 - Ireland 2-0 Iran

2015 - Ireland 1-0 Germany

2015 - Ireland 2-0 Bosnia

2016 - Ireland 1-0 Italy

2016 - Austria 0-1 Ireland

Throw in one friendly win too for good luck:

1987 - Ireland 1-0 Brazil

That's 11 "1-0s" in 18 famous Irish victories, or 12 in 19 if we want to include beating Brazil in Dublin.

And don't think for a second we've forgotten about Ireland's other favourite scoreline. How many famous 1-1 victories have we had?

The number 1 is an automatic choice. Our lucky number. First number on the teamsheet.


The number of Roy, Ronnie, and Brady, the number 6 has always been a key cog in the Irish midfield, even though it is traditionally a defender's number.

6 is also the number of minutes it took for Ireland to get our first goal at a major championships. Ray Houghton's goal in Stuttgart came agonisingly early, but was enough to beat the English, and set us on our way.



As well as that, 6 is the number of tournaments the Republic of Ireland have qualified for since making those first European Championships under Jack Charlton.

Euro 88, Italia 90, USA '94, World Cup 2002, Euro 2012, and Euro 2016 mark the only times that Ireland have reached the holy grail of tournament football. In the space of 28 years, we've experienced 6 times what generations of Irish football fans never got to. We did well in some, not so much in others, but all 6 created memories that will last forever and provided trips of a lifetime.


"The nation holds its breath"

The disaster of Euro 2012 threatened to take this number off the list, but it remains.

David O'Leary wore the number 12 when he sent the entire nation into a collective orgasmic state we didn't come out of for at least a week.

Ireland had beaten Romania and were through to the quarter finals of the World Cup - our first World Cup. What was going on?

The scenes of elation after the goal from the Irish players and staff were matched only by the reaction of the fans, so brilliantly captured in "The Van".


"He takes all Arsenal's penos"

O'Leary wore 12 because he had basically been made an outcast under Jack Charlton. Picked behind Mick McCarthy, much to the chagrin of the likes of Eamon Dunphy, he had been on the fringes of the golden days of Irish football until this point.

Suddenly, he was thrust back into the limelight as an extra time substitute in the biggest game in Irish football history, chosen to take the deciding penalty, despite no history of being a penalty taker. He didn't seem to mind. Not a bother to him.



The age of Robbie Keane when he made his Ireland debut.

18 years, 146 caps, and 68 goals later, he retired as the greatest Irish striker of all time.




"They have asked, very humbly 'Can't we be team No. 33 at the World Cup?' They have asked for that, really."

When Ireland were blackguarded out of a place in the 2010 World Cup by Thierry Henry's handball, we lost our collective minds for a little while.

After one of the best performances from an Irish team we could remember, Henry's Hand of God was hard to take, and in the heat of the moment, we demanded all kinds of punishments and amendments. We wanted to go to the bloody World Cup.

One of the FAI's potential solutions was for Ireland to be brought into the World Cup, along with France, as the 33rd team.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter told the world about the offer, laughing at stupid, little Ireland as he did it. Why wouldn't he laugh? They got the result they wanted. Remember, this was the campaign in which the rules of the playoffs were changed late in the qualifying campaign because of the fear of France missing out on the World Cup, leading to a ludicrous seeding of the playoffs - the reason we drew France in the first place.



1940 was the year that gave us John Giles.

Not only was Giles one of the greatest players to ever play for Ireland, he also managed the team, modernising the FAI's system of how the team was selected and achieved some our most famous results.

From there, Giles went on to become the voice of football in the country for the next 30 years, there to give his opinion on all the highs and lows of the Charlton years and far beyond.

In recent years, his encyclopedic memory of nearly every moment of his career has made for great storytelling, especially on his weekly radio slot on Off The Ball.

All in all, John Giles is probably the most important man in the history of Irish football, and so we include the year of his birth among our lucky numbers.




"It's a great day for the Irish!"

If Irish rugby dined on 48 for many years, for Irish football, it was 49.

In 1949, the year after Ireland became a republic, we also became the first foreign team to beat England on home soil (though this has been a largely forgotten or ignored fact by English football historians who like to claim that honour went to Hungary in 1953).

But it was Ireland who in fact first ended England's home dominance. Despite being largely dominated in the game, a penalty from Con Martin and a second half strike from Peter Farrell, playing on his club's home ground, was enough make the Irish team heroes in Ireland for the rest of their lives.

Given Ireland would not qualify for a major tournament for another 39 years, this was the day Irish football lived off for many, many years.



So there you have it, the luckiest numbers in Irish football. How you decide to play them is up to you!

Main Numbers: 12, 17, 33, 40, 49. Lucky Stars: 1, 6

They have as good a chance as any others!

Tonight's EuroMillions jackpot is a guaranteed €190 MILLION. Tickets can be purchased in-store, in-app or online at Lottery.ie. For your chance to win play before 7.30pm tonight.
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