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Shiels' Northern Ireland make history and reach Euro 2022 play-offs

On a night where the Republic’s dream of reaching a first-ever major championships ended, the North’s lives on.

Kenny Shiels and his Northern Ireland side in training.
Kenny Shiels and his Northern Ireland side in training.
Image: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

WHILE THE REPUBLIC of Ireland’s Euro 2022 qualification quest came to an end tonight, Northern Ireland’s hopes of etching their names into history lives on.

Kenny Shiels’ Northern Ireland secured a play-off spot with a 5-1 victory over the Faroe Islands at Seaview, as their dream of reaching a first-ever major tournament continues.

While the visitors took a shock lead with just four minutes on the clock through Jensa Kannuberg Torolvsdottir, Liverpool star Rachel Furness’ headed equaliser two minutes later settled the North.

Kirsty McGuinness made it 2-1 by half time, before Birmingham City’s Chloe McCarron added another excellent strike just inside the hour-mark. Substitute Caitlin McGuinness, Kirsty’s younger sister and Sion Swifts team-mate, grabbed their fourth in the 77th minute, while an own goal in the 88th ensured it finished 5-1.

Former Derry City boss Shiels will now lead his side to their first-ever play-off for a major tournament next year ahead of the 2022 finals in England, having retained second spot in Group C with Wales left disappointed despite a 3-0 win over Belarus.

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Vera Pauw’s Ireland share that disappointment after they were beaten 3-1 by Germany at Tallaght Stadium tonight; Katie McCabe’s excellent penalty just before half time not enough to stop the all-conquering Germans who qualified automatically for the tournament as they eye a ninth European crown.

Ukraine qualified as runners-up in Group I, having been pushed all the way by minnows Montenegro in Kiev — the destination where Ireland’s qualification ultimately came crashing down.

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Emma Duffy

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