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'It was a fairytale ending' - O'Shea bags injury-time equaliser and 100th cap

The experienced defender struck in the 94th minute to earn Ireland a 1-1 draw.

O'Shea salutes fans after the game.
O'Shea salutes fans after the game.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Updated 08.10

PLAYING FOR YOUR country for the 100th time is always going to be a special night, but John O’Shea could not have dreamt of having such a pivotal role in Ireland’s equalising goal against Germany.

The 33-year-old joined the elite club of players to reach a century of senior caps for Ireland in Gelsenkirchen this evening and was handed the captain’s armband for the final half hour after Robbie Keane’s withdrawal.

Trailing 1-0 to a fine strike from Toni Kroos, Martin O’Neill sent on Wes Hoolahan and pushed men forward in search of a goal with the final whistle looming. And sure enough, Hoolahan and fellow substitute Jeff Hendrick combined to tee up O’Shea, who did remarkably well to get in front of Mats Hummels and flick the ball past Manuel Neuer in the 94th minute.

“Brilliant result, first and foremost,” O’Shea told RTÉ after the Euro 2016 qualifier ended 1-1. “We had a great chance with Wes but there was a great tackle from one of the German lads. 

“We had to live a bit dangerously in the last 15 minutes but the manager didn’t want us to lose this game by one goal having done okay and everyone thinking it was okay.

“That goal at the end was brilliant. The midfield tonight, the work they had to put in especially in that first half and in the second half too. That was a little reward for them for all of the work they put in in front of the back four.

It was an absolute fairytale ending,” he added. “It was incredible — to get the 100 caps and to score the goal to equalise against Germany and hopefully keep the momentum going to qualify for France.

“The manager spoke to us in his team-talk before the game. You’re spirit will only get you so far but it was very evident there tonight and a little bit of quality at the end helped us.”

The Sunderland defender becomes the sixth Irish player to reach the milestone and follows in the footsteps of Robbie Keane (136), Shay Given (126), Kevin Kilbane (110), Steve Staunton (102) and Damien Duff (100).

Originally published: Tuesday, 22.35

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Ben Blake

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