Republic of Ireland 1, Northern Ireland 1
NORTHERN Ireland proved that hard work pays dividends in football when
they earned a battling draw against the Irish Republic at Lansdowne Road
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Bryan Hamilton, the north manager, was delighted with his side's
performance, a display that keeps alive their European Championship
Niall Quinn opened the scoring for the Republic two minutes into the
second half, but 25 minutes later Iain Dowie headed the equaliser.
''I'm very pleased for the players,'' said Hamilton. ''I was hard on
them after the Republic beat us 4-0 in Belfast in November and I was
very hard on them in training this week. We worked hard for our point
and it was a great reward for the players, who have been under pressure
after that Belfast result.
''A defeat here would have put us out of contention but I think we are
still in it.
''Whatever the case, this will help us progress as a learning team and
give us belief that we can again become a top-class squad. It is a
wonderful boost for the people of Northern Ireland.
''The loss of a point won't hurt the Republic too much. They have a
many-talented squad, and Jack (Charlton) and I are good friends. We can
help each other with a few results in this group now and I certainly
hope they qualify.''
Charlton, the Republic's manager, was quite cheerful, despite his side
giving away their first goal -- and first point -- in four qualifying
group matches. ''We took a chance playing the ball across the back when
it wasn't necessary and got punished for it,'' he said.
''Young Gillespie made a great run and Iain Dowie headed a super goal
-- one we would have been proud of at the other end. He deserved it for
all the work he did. We have to accept we can't get everything we want.
We had a great win over the North in Belfast but it was never going to
be that way today.''
The home country dominated but hardly created a chance until two
minutes after the break, when Steve Staunton robbed Darren Patterson and
was brought down. Denis Irwin's free kick sailed across as Andy Townsend
made a decoy run, and Quinn was left unattended to volley into the net
from close range.
It seemed then that the floodgates would open. Instead, Paul McGrath
and Phil Babb appeared to leave a clearance to each other and Keith
Gillespie sped away to provide the perfect cross for an unmarked Dowie
to head home.
There were claims for penalties when first substitute Tony Cascarino,
the former Celtic striker, and then John Sheridan went tumbling in the
area. But Quinn, just four minutes before being replaced by Cascarino,
missed the best chance, heading weakly at keeper Alan Fettis.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND -- A Kelly, G Kelly, Irwin, Babb, McGrath, Keane,
Townsend, D Kelly, Quinn, Sheridan, Staunton. Substitutes -- Cascarino,
Kenna, Kernaghan, McAteer, Bonner.
NORTHERN IRELAND -- Fettis, Patterson, Worthington, Taggart, McDonald,
Morrow, Gillespie, Magilton, Dowie, Hill, Hughes. Substitutes -- Quinn,
O'Neill, Gray, Horlock, Wood.
Referee -- M van de Ende (Holland).
* GOALS after 11 minutes by Sampdoria winger Attilio Lombardo and
Parma's Gianfranco Zola, who drove in from 20 yards near half-time, gave
Italy a 2-0 victory over Ukraine in their Group 4 qualifier in Kiev.