What could have been.
The clock had just ticked into the 90th minute at the Aviva Stadium on Monday night, when Mike Maignan denied Nathan Collins a moment of history.
Josh Cullen’s corner was delivered into the centre of the French box, before Collins rose highest to meet it, and send it towards the top right-hand corner of the goal.
Nathan Collins denied by Mike Maignan.
Just as the home crowd were rising to their feet, Maignan miraculously dove across and upwards, managing to get a hand on the ball and send it out for another corner.
Like Ireland supporters in pubs and living rooms across the country, Collins held his head in his hands, as he tried to process quite how the goalkeeper managed to prevent his header hitting the net.
Minutes later, after the final whistle, the Wolverhampton Wanderers defender was caught on camera appearing to mouth the word “how?” on repeat to Maignan, a question to which AC Milan stopper could only shrug his shoulders.
Full-time: 🇮🇪 0-1 🇫🇷
Two saves from Maignan within a minute denied Ireland a point. The first sparing Kounde an own-goal and then a superb effort to stop a Colins header that looked destined for the top corner
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— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) March 27, 2023
Had Collins scored, it would have been his second goal for Ireland, after his memorable solo effort against Ukraine in June of that year.
It also would have provided Ireland with a crucial point towards their aim of Euro 2024 qualification, something which most supporters would have taken ahead of kick-off against the back-to-back World Cup finalists.
How would you rate Ireland's display last night out of 10? 🇮🇪
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) March 28, 2023
At the age of 27, Maignan has had to bide his time to become first-choice France goalkeeper, with the recent retirements of Hugo Lloris and Steve Mandanda having opened the door for him to make the number one spot his own.
A penalty save in Friday’s 4-0 win over the Netherlands, as well his heroics last night, are sure to leave France manager Didier Deschamps with no doubt as to who he should have between the sticks for the entire Euro 2024 campaign.