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'I've believed for a long time that we'll go to Russia... Bring them on'

David Meyler is confident that Ireland can progress through the play-offs to reach next year’s World Cup.

– Paul Dollery reports from Cardiff City Stadium

HE ADMITTED THAT it was the best night of his career but David Meyler was also quick to point out that in spite of the euphoria that greeted tonight’s result in Cardiff, Ireland’s mission has yet to be accomplished.

David Meyler celebrates after the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A second-half goal from James McClean gave Martin O’Neill’s side a 1-0 win over Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium in their final Group D qualifier. They’ll still need to progress through a two-legged play-off next month, however, before a place at next summer’s World Cup in Russia is secured.

In the absence of the injured Seamus Coleman, David Meyler wore the captain’s armband for the second consecutive game and the Corkman produced an outstanding performance in the middle of the park.

Meyler will miss the first leg of the play-off after picking up a yellow card late in the game for a foul on Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, but he was elated afterwards nevertheless.

“Overall it’s probably the best night of my football career,” said the Hull City midfielder. “Obviously I’ve had some big moments with Hull but to captain your country to beat Wales away is huge. My family are here so I’m sure my dad and mum are chuffed.”

Meyler has grasped his chance to impress in the Ireland starting line-up since being given the nod to play against Serbia last month. The captaincy has meant a lot to him, but he insists he’s merely deputising for Seamus Coleman.

“I’ve had to work hard and wait for the opportunities. Everybody wants to play and when you get an opportunity you’ve got to take it. I’ve felt I’ve done alright in the last three games — I’ve played against Serbia, Moldova and obviously tonight.

Wales v Republic of Ireland - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group D - Cardiff City Stadium Source: Nick Potts

“I can’t sit on this now, I’ve got to do more. It’s a huge honour to have the armband but Seamus Coleman is our captain, I’m just filling in. It’s a huge thing for me and my family, though.”

The first leg of the play-off will take place on 9-11 November, followed by the second leg on 12-14 November. Ireland will discover their opponents when the draw is made on 17 October.

Meyler said: “We can’t get too carried away because we’ve got to go now and obviously win the play-off against whoever it is. We’ve got one massive step to go.

“I said it ages ago but I’ve believed for a long time that we’ll go to Russia and I still believe that. Bring them on.”

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Paul Dollery

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