Ranking Ireland's Best Away Performances Since 1987

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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A debate inevitably sparked by Ireland's 1-0 win in Vienna. What are the greatest Irish away performances since Hampden in 1987.

Very important: The criteria for admission onto this list. Has to have been a competitive game away from home. Not a neutral venue, aka, the other side has to be on their home ground.

We have excluded the game at the weekend. Too fresh in the memory.

6. Estonia 0-4 Ireland (November 2011)

We felt obliged to throw at least one victory into this list. That year the Guardian Football podcast with James Richardson was being recorded while the draw for the playoffs was in progress.

They gave a running commentary on the draw as it went, which made for odd radio given that most listeners surely knew who'd drawn who.

Barry Glendenning's yelp of delight told those not yet up to speed that Ireland had been gifted with the jackpot draw. Zbigniew Boniek had pulled the Estonia ball out of the hat.

Prior to the game, there were words of caution. The Estonians couldn't have been total mugs. They had after all got that far.


Alas, what followed was a horrible meltdown for the home team - one not helped by referee Viktor Kassai sending two of their lads off.

As he trooped down the tunnel flanked by his linesmen after the match, Kassai had to contend with an aggreived blond Estonian defender screaming in his face, hairdryer style.

5. Portugal 1-1 Ireland (October 2000)

Often taken as a piece with the Holland match the month before. Ireland were able to get their two toughest games out of the way first as they took points from trips to Amsterdam and Lisbon.

Matt Holland's long range shot set us in good stead for later in the group. Interestingly, Alan Kelly was between the sticks that night.

This match was played on the evening of an All-Ireland football final replay. Kerry beat Galway in the replay and Eamon Dunphy, always quick to take the piss out of his betting travails (no selective reportage from Eamo on this front), told Billo that he had thrown a nice sum on a Portugal-Galway double.


4. France 1-1 Ireland (AET) (November 2009)

When it was asserted that the win on Saturday was Ireland's first away victory over proper qualification contenders since 1987, many quick minds piped up and drew the attention to Ireland's 1-0 win over France in 90 minutes over Giovanni Trapattoni in 2009.

This is a legitimate asterisks to stick beside that stat. Though UEFA does apparently regard extra-time as being part of the same game as the original ninety minutes and thus officially records that match as a 1-1 draw.


3. Spain 0-0 Ireland (November 1992)


From our peerless World Cup 1994 campaign in which we started like a train (curiously playing our first match before Euro 92) and put ourselves in a dominant position before stumbling late on, eventually coughing and wheezing our way onto the plane to America.

As an international football power, Ireland were probably at their zenith in the 1992-93 season. The 3-0 spanking of Northern Ireland in March '93 was the moment when Irish football culture, previously in thrall to underdog status, embraced triumphalism. "One team in Ireland!" rang chauvinistically around Lansdowne Road, enraging Billy Bingham.


In November '92, we met Spain in Seville. Notwithstanding Denmark's status as European champions, this was pegged as the most daunting assignment in the group.

Nadal was sent off early, Niall Quinn missed a glorious chance and John Aldridge had a goal wrongly chalked off for offside. Like England in '91, many pocketed what was a decent result and gloried in a moral victory, while others lamented that we hadn't got more.

It was also the game after which Maradona, then playing for Sevilla in La Liga, declared 21-year old Roy Keane the best young midfielder in Europe.


Here is the game in Seville as seen from the Road to USA documentary.

2. England 1-1 Ireland (March 1991)

Kevin Moran said later that the only matches from his career that he was ever bothered to watch back were the Dublin-Kerry matches from 1976 and 1977 and the England-Ireland match at Wembley in 1991.

Irish supporters of a certain vintage come over all wistful and regretful when Euro 92 is mentioned, gazing into the middle distance - "That was the one we could have won..."

For the one big thing that Ireland had in common with the eventual winners of Euro 92 was that they too hadn't qualified for Euro 92.

Not only that but Ireland then pipped Denmark in USA 94 qualification.

That 1-1 draw in Wembley in March '91 was the signature game of the Jack Charlton reign, when the 'put them under pressure' maxim reached its fullest expression.

The Irish fans sang lustily at the final whistle, proud that we had once more avoided defeat against England. But it is Balls contention that our post-match giddiness sold the team short.

Ireland should have won the match. The abiding feeling watching the game back is frustration at the failure to close it out.

1. Holland 2-2 Ireland (September 2000)

Joe Molloy argued tonight that the win in Austria still didn't match up with the 2-2 draw in Amsterdam as Ireland's best ever performance.

Roy was in a rage both before and after the game. Before the game, because someone had the temerity to try and shove cheese sandwiches under his nose and after the game because everybody still seemed to be celebrating that we had tossed away a two goal lead.

The game epitomised the adventurousness, the ambition and, yes, the occasional naivety of the McCarthy era. A very fine Irish performance.

Read more: "First Big Away Win Since 1987!" - Breaking Down Ireland's Curious Away Record Since The Late '80s

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