Republic of Ireland Senior Football Team Results 2000 to 2004
After reaching the play off stages of the previous qualifying campaigns for the 1998 World Cup Finals and the Euro 2008 Finals but falling short of qualification there was some optimism amongst Irish soccer fans that Ireland had the players and the manager, Mick McCarthy, that could qualify for another major championship.
That optimism was severely dented when the draw was made for the qualifying group for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Ireland was drawn with the much-fancied Portugal and Holland. With only one to qualify automatically and the second placed team going into a play-off hopes for the Irish team were not high. It would take some impressive results on the soccer pitch to even reach the play-offs.
Ireland Qualify for 2002 World Cup Finals
Despite a poorly concealed antipathy between Mick McCarthy and his captain, Roy Keane, McCarthy guided Ireland to second place in the group. Keane playing an outstanding role throughout the qualification campaign inspired the Irish team to some excellent results. Despite Keane missing the second leg play-off in Tehran Ireland beat Iran 2-1 over the two legs to qualify for the World Cup Finals in Japan and South Korea.
Roy Keane and Saipan
This era of Irish soccer history is noted most for the events that occurred during the preparations for the 2002 Finals in a little known (up to then) pacific island called Saipan. These events are catalogued elsewhere in great detail but the non-participation by one of Ireland’s greatest players, Roy Keane, in the 2002 World Cup remains a tragedy for everyone involved with, and interested in Irish soccer.
The question remains; just how far could the Republic of Ireland – with Roy Keane – have gone in a generally poor competition that saw South Korea reach the semi-finals?
Mick McCarthy Resigns as Irish Football Manager
In the wake of the Saipan affair and with Irish soccer split down the middle on the rights and wrongs of the issue it seems to this observer that Mick McCarthy did not appear to have the heart to continue on in the role as manager of the Republic’s soccer team. After some poor results at the start to the qualifying campaign for Euro 2004 Mick McCarthy quit the post in November 2002.
Brian Kerr Appointed Manager of Ireland
Former youth teams manager Brian Kerr was appointed as Irish manager. Kerr found it impossible to rescue the situation that he had inherited and Ireland finished third in the group registering just three victories (Georgia twice & Albania once) from eight matches.
Ireland’s 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign at the end of 2004 began relatively positively with some good results, two wins and two away draws against Switzerland and France. Having negotiated the two most difficult away matches without defeat, and with key matches in Dublin to follow, Irish soccer was looking forward to 2005 with a fair degree of optimism.
Republic of Ireland Match Results 2000 to 2004 (inclusive)
Scores in parentheses are half-time scores