Thursday, June 25, 2009

25 June 1990 - Nine Months Later, Many Irish Babies Were Born

On 25 June 1990, the Republic of Ireland, competing in its first ever World Cup, defeated Romania 5-4 on penalties before a crowd of 31,818 at Genoa's Stadio Luigi Ferraris. The win sent Ireland through to the quarterfinals, which is the farthest the Republic has ever advanced in World Cup competition.

Ireland survived the group stage despite scoring only two goals and drawing all three matches with the other members of the group: 1-1 against England, 0-0 against Egypt, and 1-1 against the Netherlands. The Netherlands had similarly drawn all of its group matches and scored only two goals, so that Ireland and the Dutch side were tied for second place in the group, even on points (3), goal differential (0), goals for (2), and goals against (2). In order to determine the final placement, FIFA officials drew lots. Ireland won to claim second place. (The Netherlands still advanced, as their 3 points placed them among the top four third-place teams, all of whom qualified for the knockout rounds under the rules in place that year.)

The Irish seemed intent on drawing the match with Romania as well. While the Romanians played with flair and style, the Irish matched them with grit and determination. Neither side was able to score through 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime, so the match went to penalty kicks. Even then, there was little to separate the sides, as the first four kickers from each team successfully converted.

That changed, however, when Romanian forward Daniel Timofte stepped up to take his side's fifth kick. Timofte, who had come on as a substitute in the 96th minute, sent his shot to the left, where Irish keeper Pat "Packie" Bonner (pictured) dove to meet it and swatted it away. Forward David O'Leary, who had come on in the 95th minute, then put his shot past Romanian keeper and captain, Silviu Lung, giving Ireland the victory.

After the match, the Irish team's English manager, Jack Charlton, told the press: ''The pubs will sell more booze tonight than they have in the last year. There's going to be a party this town has never seen the likes of before, a party Dublin has never seen the likes of before." Although Ireland lost in the quarterfinals to Italy, the shootout with Romania has become famous and was later immortalized in the film version of Roddy Doyle's The Van.

[Note: The clip below has some language that might be considered NSFW.]

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