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An 'Irish Performance' Salvages Pride in Dublin

Prior to England's disastrous outing against Croatia on Wednesday night, coach/nationalist Steve McClaren called for an "English performance" to overcome the Croats away from home. Across the Irish Sea, Steve Staunton and the Republic of Ireland could have used a similar infusion of nationalist fervor prior to a tricky Euro 2008 qualifier at home to the Czech Republic. On Saturday, Staunton's men fell 5-2 in Nicosia to lowly Cyprus, a team that's never qualified for a major tournament. After that nightmare, the Irish needed to produce a result in what was their last match at Lansdowne Road before builders begin its redevelopment. While Staunton's men managed to produce the kind of spirited performance McClaren tried to will on England's Lions, victory proved to be beyond Ireland: the match finished 1-1. To be fair, the odds were stacked against Staunton during this round of Euro 2008 qualifiers: no less than eight of his starters were missing through injury or suspension. The result was cruel on the unlucky Irish, who created the majority of the chances and probably deserved a victory. But extra brownie points go Staunton's men's way for picking themselves up after that horrible defeat in Cyprus. Nevertheless, the draw leaves them sixth in Group D (which also features Germany and Wales, besides the Czechs) with one point from three games.

Read the whole story at Times Online »

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