Sixteen years ago today Ireland recorded one of their most historic victories, beating Holland at home in the old Lansdowne Road in what was a do or die game for the Dutch.
Winning the game 1-0 gave the Boys in Green a real shot in the arm in their hopes of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea while for the Netherlands, then under the stewardship of Louis van Gaal, it was the death knell in their hopes of qualification having drawn with Ireland previously and picking up just one point from their two games against table-toppers Portugal.
And while the win itself was significant for Ireland’s qualification ambitions, it will arguably be remembered for two separate incidents which perfectly epitomised both the grit and skill that oozed from one of the greatest Irish squads we’re ever likely to witness.
The first of which came in the opening seconds of the game as Roy Keane, in typical fashion, laid down a marker early. This time it was Marc Overmars who was the
unsuspecting suspecting victim.
However, the turning point in the game is what will be most fondly remembered by Ireland fans as Jason McAteer scored a sumptuous volley to lift the roof off a packed Lansdowne Road.
Ironically Keane, who started the move, was upended in a similar fashion to Overmars in the build-up to the decisive goal but managed to get a pass off to Damien Duff just in time who in turn played it out wide to Steve Finnan.
Jinking this way and that, the ex-Liverpool man managed to swivel quickly inside the box and deliver a lofted cross across the penalty area, where each and every Dutch defender missed the ball.
McAteer, waiting at the back post, was ready though and duly slotted the ball home to send the home crowd into raptures.
It was an iconic moment in Irish sport.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena