Jason McAteer was sent off for this high challenge on Artim Sakiri. ©James Meehan/INPHO
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VIDEO: 16 years since Ireland 'had a Macedonia'

Mick McCarthy’s side conceded two penalties and Jason McAteer was red-carded in Skopje.

IT IS HARD to believe that 16 years have passed since Ireland stank up Skopje and crashed to a 3-2 defeat to Macedonia.

Seeking to qualify for the 1998 World Cup in France, Mick McCarthy’s men were humbled by the hosts and only had themselves to blame.

A diving header by Alan McLoughlin opened the scoring but penalties, conceded by Jason McAteer and Terry Phelan, saw Ireland fall behind.

With Niall Quinn, then Keith O’Neill injured, Jon Goodman was forced to play large tracts of the game in an isolated role up front.

Giorgi Hristov made it 3-1 on the hour mark and, despite a late goal from substitute striker David Kelly, the jig was almost up.

The loss was compounded by a late, and deserved, red card for Jason McAteer after he went kung fu on midfielder Artim Sakiri.

YouTube credit: 90sSoccerBoy

The match, which took place a day after April Fool’s Day in 1997, is now part of Irish football folklore.

For the next six years, players that performed poorly in training wore a bib declaring ‘I had a Macedonia’.

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