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'You could tell there was a goal coming and thankfully I was the man to get it' - Long

Super sub Shane Long is confident that Ireland can still make the Euro 2016 finals after tonight’s 1-1 draw with Poland.

Long waves to fans after his equaliser.
Long waves to fans after his equaliser.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

HE MAY HAVE been handed a cameo role for Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualifier with Poland, but Shane Long walked off the Aviva Stadium pitch a hero after taking the one chance that fell his way.

The Southampton striker was named on the bench as Martin O’Neill chose to start Robbie Keane as a lone striker, before moving Jon Walters alongside him in the second half.

Long, who made his introduction as an 84th-minute substitute, latched onto Wes Hoolahan’s header in injury-time to equalise from close range and ensure the Boys in Green didn’t suffer a second consecutive defeat.

“I was just waiting to get on the pitch and luckily I got the last 10 minutes,” Long said in the post-match mixed zone. “Sometimes the ball doesn’t fall for you and sometimes it does. So it was nice to see it hit the back of the net.

I thought we caused them all sorts of problems in the second half. Maybe the first 35 minutes they were on top but after that we got into it.

“You could tell there was a goal coming and thankfully I was the man to get it. I was delighted because we fully deserved it.”

At the halfway point in the campaign, Ireland are fourth — behind Poland, Scotland and Germany — and currently out of the qualification spots. It remains a big ask, but Long believes progression to next year’s finals in France is very much achievable.

“It’s within our own grasp,” he said. “Getting a point was a big result for us because losing to them would have put six points between us and that’s a big gap to claw back.

“We’re in touching distance and it is in our own hands so we are confident that we’ve got a good enough squad to get to the finals. It is just a case of going out there and proving that.”

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Ben Blake

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