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Ireland Holland Play Off Match for Euro 1996 Finals
Under Irish football manager Jack Charlton the Republic of Ireland started of the Euro 1996 qualification campaign in very impressive form. The Irish had won four matches and drawn one, scoring 13 goals and conceding just one. Following this encouraging start to the qualification campaign the wheels really came off for the Irish in the next three matches with a 0-0 away draw with lowly Liechtenstein and then two successive 3-1 losses against Austria.
The draw with tiny Liechtenstein represents one of the worst results in Irish football history and one of the best for the principality. The manner of the two back-to-back defeats to Austria was also very depressing, especially the 1-3 loss at the fortress that was Lansdowne Road (now Aviva Stadium) once was.
A further 3-0 loss against Portugal in Lisbon consigned Ireland to second place on the same number of points as Northern Ireland but with one goal superior goal difference. After a highly promising start this turned out to be disappointing end to what was to be Jack Charlton's last qualification campaign in charge of the Irish national football team.
Euro 1996 Play Off Match Against the Netherlands- First Leg
For the play-off match (at the time it was a single match played at a neutral venue) Ireland was drawn against the Netherlands from Group 5. As always the Dutch had a very talented team and the task was made even more difficult as an ageing Irish team was shorn of the services of three key players, Roy Keane, Steve Staunton (both injured) and Niall Quinn (suspended).
The play-off match took place on 13th December 1995 at Anfield - the home of Liverpool FC. On a bitterly cold night, that was charged with high emotion, Jack Charlton took charge of the Irish soccer team for the last time.
The Dutch ran out comfortable 2-0 victors as they outclassed the Irish. As 19 year old Patrick Kluivert rammed home his second goal two minutes from time the Irish fans present realised that they were witnessing the end of the Charlton-Ireland era.
The crowd knew that a sporting love affair was coming to an end and spent the rest of the match chanting and singing tributes to the most successful Irish football manager ever. The Dutch fans were bemused by the apparently contradictory reaction by the Irish fans to their team's defeat. After the match Jack Charlton came back out on to the pitch to bid an emotional farewell to the travelling Irish support. Eight days later he resigned.
A Player's View - Niall Quinn
Suspended Niall Quinn commented afterwards: "I was at Anfield with the lads, but I was suspended. I was gutted to miss it. From what I remember, I got booked in the first qualifying game and the last one, 15 months later, and that kept me out of the Holland match. Really, by then we were an old team and Holland had a new, young side, and we just didn't have what it took to beat them on the night. A bad memory for all of us who were there."
Euro 1996 Play Off Match Teams:
Holland: Van der Sar, Reiziger, Blind, Bogarde, R. de Boer, Seedorf, Bergkamp (De Kock 58), Davids, Overmars, Kluivert, Helder (Winter 79).
Goals: Kluivert 30,88
Rep of Ireland:
Alan Kelly (Sheffield Utd); Gary Kelly (Leeds Utd), Phil
Babb (Liverpool), Paul
McGrath (Aston Villa), Denis
Irwin (Manchester United);
Jeff Kenna (Blackburn Rovers), Andy Townsend (Aston Villa), John Sheridan
(Sheffield Wednesday), Terry Phelan (Chelsea), John
Aldridge (Tranmere Rovers), Tony Cascarino (Marseille). Subs: Jason
McAteer (Liverpool) for Townsend (51); Alan Kernaghan (Man City) for
Number of Appearances and Goals Scored in Irish World Cup Qualifying Campaigns
Number of Appearances and Goals Scored in Irish Euro Championship Finals Qualifying Campaigns