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Inpho General view of the final score in the Euro 96 qualifier between Ireland and Austria.
# Controversy
Memory lane: Roy Keane on when Ireland lost to Austria but passed 'Harry's Challenge'
The former Irish captain recalled the infamous events surrounding the 1995 fixture in his autobiography.

The following passage is taken from Keane: The Autobiography, which is available to buy here

AFTER TRIPS WITH the Irish team, players would go back to their club at the end of an international week and swap stories with English players and those from other nations about the weird but wonderful Ireland camp.

Everyone had a laugh at the Irish. No one laughed harder than the Irish players telling the stories about the cock-ups, piss-ups and the various impediments you faced as a professional player representing your country. When I was young I told stories. And laughed.

Here’s a good one from Ireland’s qualifying campaign for Euro 96 – towards the end of Big Jack’s time as national team manager.

Because of injury I played only three or four games from the qualifiers. But Dennis Irwin and Paul McGrath were witnesses to this story.

(Ireland’s Tommy Coyne (centre) battles for the ball with Austria’s Christian Prosenik (left) and Johann Kogler during the 1995 European Championship qualifying group six clash at Lansdowne Road in Dublin – PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images)

Ireland were at home to Austria in a vital qualifying game. The day before the match, the team went to Lansdowne Road for a training session. On the way they stopped at a branch of Harry Ramsden’s on the Naas Road.

The photographers were on hand to capture the Irish team tackle their first big challenge of the week: Harry’s Challenge, a giant-sized haddock with chips and beans or peas, with a sweet to follow.

Eat up, lads, urged Jack. Some of the lads tucked into Harry’s Challenge. Then off to Lansdowne Road for the final training session.

Yes, Austria won 3-1. Some of the lads reported that their legs ‘went’ twenty minutes from the end. F**ked. But they’d passed Harry’s Challenge.

(Austria’s Toni Polster (not in picture) scores from a free kick – INPHO/James Meehan)

The story went down a treat in the dressing rooms around England.

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Significantly, Ireland failed to qualify for Euro 96 because of that defeat. Holland beat them easily in a play-off game at Anfield. That was Harry’s Challenge.

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