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Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Donall Farmer/INPHO Martin O'Neill walking the pitch at Lille's Stade Pierre-Maurot this evening.
# drawing inspiration
'We don't have to go back to USA '94 for inspiration, we beat the world champions last year!'
Tomorrow night, Ireland need their first victory over the Azzurri at a major tournament since the heroics of Giants Stadium.

- Ben Blake reports from the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille 

SATURDAY JUST GONE marked 22 years since Ireland’s last win over Italy at a major tournament.

The heroics of Jack Charlton’s side against a star-studded Italian team at Giants Stadium in the group stages of the 1994 World Cup remains one of the nation’s greatest sporting feats.

In real danger of an early exit from Euro 2016, Ireland will need to cause another huge upset in Lille tomorrow evening if they are to claim the three points essential for making the last-16.

During today’s pre-match press conference, 27-year-old defender Seamus Coleman admitted that he doesn’t remember the day Ray Houghton lobbed Gianluca Pagliuca and Paul McGrath put in arguably his finest performance in a green shirt.

But, according to Martin O’Neill, his players can draw inspiration from a night in Dublin last October — when Shane Long’s late strike earned Ireland a historic 1-0 win over world champions Germany.

“For players of Seamus’ age, it (USA ’94) seems a long time ago,” said the Derryman. “We have got our own recent memories ourselves to inspire us, no more so than the night in October when we beat the world champions.

“When you say it like that, it just seems to disappear into the ether, but we beat the world champions on a night when we had to win and that’s extraordinary — an extraordinary result.

They weren’t a normal side, they were the team that just 18 months earlier or whatever it was had gone to Brazil and won the World Cup, so that was a great moment for us.

“That was inspirational enough for us to go and beat Bosnia over the two games in the play-off match. I think that’s where we drew the inspiration from.”

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Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group D - Republic of Ireland v Germany - Aviva Stadium PA Archive / Press Association Images Shane Long celebrates scoring the winner against Germany back in October. PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

He added: “We don’t have to go back to ’94, we can just draw on that because it’s the set of players that did it and it’s that set of players that gave us the opportunity to come here.

“As much as we have enjoyed the days that we have been here, we’d like to stay a little bit longer, so that inspiration will come from that evening against Germany and the night against Bosnia.”

Listen to The42′s Ben Blake on the 98FM Euro 2016 Daily podcast throughout the tournament 

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