Euro 2012 teams

Team Profile: Republic of Ireland

A look back at the key points of Republic of Ireland's history in the Euros.

Mark Lomas

Ray Houghton wheels away after scoring Ireland's winning goal against England at Euro '88

Overall record at finals: Played 3, Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 1.

Best performance: Group stage in 1988.

Most appearances at finals: Pat Bonner, Chris Morris, Chris Hughton, Mick Mccarthy, Kevin Moran, Ronnie Whelan, Kevin Sheedy, Ray Houghton, John Aldridge, Frank Stapleton, Tony Galvin - 3

Most goals at finals: Ronnie Whelan and Ray Houghton (1988) - 1.

European Championship high: Beating England in their Euro '88 opener; Ray Houghton's looping sixth-minute header gave Ireland the perfect start to their first ever appearance at a major international tournament.

European Championship low: Missing out on qualification for the 1996 and 2000 finals after play-off defeats to Netherlands and Turkey, the latter coming on away goals.

European Championship legend: Ronnie Whelan. Alongside Liverpool team-mate Houghton, Whelan bossed Ireland's midfield and scored what would have been the goal of the tournament were it not for Marco Van Basten's famous effort in the final. Whelan's memorable strike came in the second group game against the Soviet Union as he acrobatically volleyed home Mick McCarthy's long throw to open the scoring in the 1-1 draw.

The story so far: The inaugural European Championship brought a taste of disappointment that would characterise Ireland's continental exploits for the next half a century, as they lost a two-legged play-off to Czechoslovakia - failing to even qualify for the qualifying competition. It would be 28 years before they reached their first major finals but their place at Euro '88 was confirmed when Scotland's Gary Mackay scored a late winner in Sofia to condemn Bulgaria to second place in qualifying Group 7. Victory over England in the tournament's opening game would prove the major highlight, though a draw with eventual group winners Soviet Union and a narrow 1-0 defeat to eventual champions Netherlands meant Ireland exited with their heads held high. Further qualifying failure followed, with heartbreaking play-off defeats to the Dutch and Turkey ahead of Euro '96 and Euro 2000 the closest the Irish came before Giovanni Trapattoni steered the Emerald Isle to this summer's finals in Poland and Ukraine.

Qualification: Giovanni Trapattoni's side finished as runners-up to Russia in one of the most keenly-contested groups as the top two and Slovakia all enjoyed a reign as group leaders at various stages of the campaign, while Armenia's late surge almost saw them earn second place. A heroic 0-0 stalemate in Moscow last September was arguably Ireland's key result and a play-off berth was secured with a 2-1 victory over rivals Armenia in the final group game at the Aviva Stadium. A favourable play-off draw paired the Irish with Estonia and a 4-0 away win in the first leg set them up for a first taste of the Euros in 24 years, a 5-1 aggregate win sealing their progress. Robbie Keane was unsurprisingly Ireland's leading scorer in qualifying, with his seven goals equalling the totals of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Villa (and Mikael Forssell).

Qualifying record: P10, W6, D3, L1, F15, A7, Pts21. Beat Estonia 5-1 on aggregate in play-off.

Most appearances: Glenn Whelan, Aiden McGeady (12).

Top goalscorer: Robbie Keane (7).


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