Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
# This Is The One
Shane Long: Beating Germany was special - now we've got to make it mean something
Tomorrow evening’s game in Poland is Ireland’s play-off, says supersub Long.

Shane Long scores their first goal Morgan Treacy / INPHO Long is expected to start against Poland after smashing in the winner against Germany. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Niall Kelly reports from Stadion Narodowy, Warsaw

SHANE LONG DOESN’T want his golden moment to become a forgotten footnote in Irish football.

So he’s urging the Boys in Green to follow up their German giantkilling by clinching automatic qualification for Euro 2016 and sidestepping the lottery of the playoffs.

Beat Poland or, failing that, leave Warsaw with a 2-2 draw or higher, and Ireland will pull off what once appeared to be mission impossible and book their place in France.

Long said: “I think after putting ourselves in this position it would be a shame not to qualify. We could get to the playoffs and it would be a tough game over two legs.

We will view this game tomorrow as our playoff: we win that and we’re at the Euros and we don’t have to worry about anything else. That’s our main focus now.

“It would make the goal on Thursday a bit more meaningful, to help us get to the Euros. It was a great night but we’ve got to focus on Poland now.

We’ve got to make it mean something.

Donall Farmer / INPHO Long met the media in Warsaw on Saturday evening. Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Long has only made one competitive start under Martin O’Neill — the defeat in Scotland last November — with the manager preferring to use him as a pacey impact sub.

The plan worked as Long came off the bench to score the stoppage-time equaliser against Poland earlier this year, but with his supersub cameo against Germany, the 28-year-old made his most convincing case for a start yet.

“My phone was bouncing from friends and family and Twitter,” he said.

“Someone asked me after the game how did you get in, and I couldn’t remember, it was all a bit of a blur, so it was nice to have the video to see it again.

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“I remember just getting a touch and trying to get it out in front of me and trying to hit the target. It was nice to see it go in.

The last 20 minutes, the clock seemed to go backwards.

It looks increasingly likely that he will get his reward and start in place of Daryl Murphy up front but Long accepted that “it’s up to the boss.”

“I’m ready whenever he needs me on the pitch. Anyone would want to start the game but we’re all ready and prepared to do the job for the team.”

He added: “Every player in the squad, you do want to start the game, but if that’s not the case you’re wishing the player playing in your position all the best. Then you’re waiting on the bench to try to come on and make an impact.

It has worked out in the past, coming on against Poland and Gibraltar and again on Thursday night, but I’m ready and waiting whenever I’m needed.

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