Whelan’s Euro destiny

by Gazette Reporter

CLONDALKIN man Glenn Whelan donned the captain’s armband as the Republic of Ireland qualified for Euro 2016 earlier in the week.
The former Cherry Orchard man was Martin O’Neill’s skipper for both the first and second leg against Bosnia Herzegovina in the absence of Robbie Keane and John O’Shea. Ireland took a vital away goal to the Aviva Stadium on Monday night after a 1-1 draw in foggy first leg in Bosnia last Friday evening.
A Robbie Brady goal in the 82nd minute looked to give Ireland an away win in a scrappy first leg, but Roma star Edin Dzeko hit back for hosts just minutes later to leave the tie at 1-1 going to Dublin.
Monday’s game was a much better game to watch, and a much easier game to see. Ireland went ahead in the first half when Jon Walters, returning from suspension, coolly dispatched a penalty past Asmir Begovic. Much like the first leg, the Bosnians enjoyed a lot of possession without really offering much in the way of chances and were made pay by Walters once more in the second half.
A decent delivery from Robbie Brady from a free-kick wasn’t dealt with by the Bosnia defence and the Whelan’s Stoke City teammate swooped in at the back-post to bury his second of the night.
“I could not be more proud,” said manager Martin O’Neill afterwards. “I am delighted for myself, naturally, but the game is about players and I am thrilled for them. They have put heart and soul into the games.
“We never gave up, even after the Scotland game. It was a tall order but it was always in our hands.
“They are a fantastic bunch of players who want to play for their country. They have shown that in the qualifying tournament – they have given everything.
“I am delighted for them. That moment when the referee blows the whistle and you are in France is very special indeed, the more so as it means so much to a lot of people.”
Whelan was replaced by John O’Shea late on in Monday’s second leg and O’Neill joked when asked why he decided to withdraw the Dublin 22 local that he uses up the most time.
“Glenn always thinks he’s the one being taken off!
“He’s generally the slowest to get off the field,” he said.

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