Midfielder set for Lyon trip with Academy graduateStephen Quinn got his first run-out at Euro 2016 as a last-minute substitute against Italy on Wednesday evening, where he helped Ireland to a 1-0 win and a place in the last 16!
Quinny replaced Royals Academy graduate Shane Long with just stoppage-time left to play… the Reading midfielder helped to put his countrymen over the line after a monumental effort had seen them inflict Italy’s first defeat in 13!
Robbie Brady was the match-winner with just five minutes remaining on the clock; substitute Wes Hoolahan had wasted the chance of the match just moments earlier when he fluffed a one-on-one with goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu – but then he delivered the cross of the match for his Norwich teammate to head in the winning goal!
Italian boss Antonio Conte was able to rest many of his regular starters, after wins against Belgium and Sweden guaranteed their place as group winners. But it was still an Italian side full of talent – and yet Ireland were great value for the win.
And that result qualified Ireland for the last 16 as one of the four best-placed runners-up – they will face France in Lyon.
There is a subtext to that fixture too. It will be the first time that Ireland have faced France for almost seven years… and that was that infamous play-off night at the Stade de France, when Thierry Henry’s hand-ball – not spotted by the officials – contributed to denying Ireland a place in the 2010 World Cup.
Reading captain Paul McShane was in close proximity that evening to witness that miscarriage of justice; now Ireland have a chance to exact some revenge by knocking the tournament hosts on their own patch. The match is due to take place at 2pm on Sunday 26th June – the winning country will meet the winner of England vs Iceland in the quarter-final.
Congratulations to Stephen Quinn, Shane Long, and all involved with Ireland!