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Cats, sacks and handballs: The 8 games that defined Trap’s Ireland reign

The Italian’s eventful reign in charge of the Boys in Green is over.

AFTER 64 MONTHS in charge of the Irish national team, Giovanni Trapattoni has left his post. Below, we relive the most memorable and defining matches in the Trap era.

Ireland 1 Serbia 1 – Friendly, 24 May, 2008

Full of optimism after the shambles that was Steve Staunton’s tenure, fans at Croke Park witnessed Andy Keogh come off the bench to ensure Trap avoided defeat in his first game in charge with an injury-time equaliser. The new manager handed debuts to QPR full-back Damien Delaney and Stoke midfielder Glenn Whelan. One would become a lynchpin in the Italian’s team, the other hovered around the fringes for awhile before his short international career was ended.

Team: Kiely, Kelly, Dunne, McShane, Delaney, Duff, Miller, Whelan, Hunt (Keogh 80), Keane (Murphy 69), Doyle (Long 86).

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Andy Keogh is congratulated on his goal by Damien Delaney. Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

Georgia 1 Ireland 2 – World Cup qualifier, 6 September, 2008

Played at a neutral ground in Mainz, Germany, due to political unrest in Georgia, Trapattoni got his first competitive game off to a winning start. Kevin Doyle scored a header on 13 minutes and Whelan doubled their lead thanks to a goalkeeping blunder before Ireland conceded late on. It was clear there were plenty of areas to work on but the former Juventus boss was pleased with the result, saying he was convinced they could qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

Team: Given, Finnan (McShane 80), O’Shea, Dunne, Kilbane, McGeady (87), S Reid, Whelan, Hunt, Keane, Doyle (Miller 77).

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Steve Finnan tackles Alexander Iashvili. Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Ireland 2 Italy 2 – World Cup qualifier, 10 October, 2008

Having drawn 1-1 in Bari after Robbie Keane’s last-gasp strike against 10-man Italy, he welcomed his native country to Dublin. In an entertaining game, Glenn Whelan buried Liam Lawrence’s smart free-kick but Mauro Camaronesi then headed a corner past Shay Given. Sean St Ledger scored his first goal for the country and what looked to be the winner on 87 minutes. The Azzurri had other ideas though, and Alberto Gilardino robbed Ireland of a famous win in the dying moments – securing top spot for Italy and resigning Ireland to the play-offs.

Team: Given; O’Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Kilbane; Lawrence, Whelan (Rowlands ’70), Andrews, McGeady (S Hunt 78′); Doyle (18 Best ’67), Keane.

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Italy manager Marcelo Lippi looks on as Trap shouts instructions. Pic:INPHO/James Crombie

France 1 Ireland 1 (2-1 on aggregate after extra time) – World Cup play-off, second leg, 18 November, 2009

Who can forget that night in Paris? 1-0 down after the first leg at home, Ireland travelled to the French capital intent on causing an upset. And during their best performance under Trapattoni, they went in front through Robbie Keane on 33 minutes. What happened next caused an international storm –  Florent Malouda’s ball, Paul McShane’s failure to clear, the hand of Thierry Henry and a close range finish by William Gallas. To make matters worse, there was Henry’s ridiculous attempt to show Richard Dunne compassion at the final whistle and the ignorant sniggers of Sepp Blatter.

Team: Given, O’Shea (McShane 66), St. Ledger, Dunne, Kilbane, Lawrence (McGeady 106), Whelan (Gibson 63), Andrews, Duff, Doyle, Keane.

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Henry’s cheating. Credit: Inpho

Russia 0 Ireland 0 – Euro 2008 qualifier, 6 September, 2011

Somehow, Ireland held Russia to a scoreless draw at the Luzhniki Stadium to keep qualification hopes alive. It really was the siege in Moscow as Dick Advocaat’s side threw everything at Given’s goal… but found Richard Dunne in the way everytime. The Dubliner’s performance in particular will go down in history alongside Paul McGrath in the Giants Stadium as one of the greatest defensive performances ever produced in an Ireland jersey.

Team: Given, Kelly, Dunne, O’Dea, Ward, McGeady, Whelan, Andrews, Duff (Hunt 67), Doyle (Cox 59), Keane.

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Dunne: There are no more Russians… Credit: Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Estonia 0 Ireland 4 – Euro 2012 play-off, November 11, 2011

The luck of the draw couldn’t have been any kinder as Ireland were paired with Estonia after finishing behind Russia in the group stages and virtually booked their place at the European championships with a 4-0 win in Tallinn. They got off to a terrific start when Keith Andrews headed home an opener, then Jon Walters and a Robbie Keane double all but secured their place at a major tournament for the first time in ten years. Trap claimed “the cat is in the sack but the sack is not closed” but they completed the job in second leg in the Aviva Stadium, which ended 1-1.

Team: Given, Kelly, St Ledger, Dunne, Ward, Duff (Hunt 73), Whelan (Fahey 78), Andrews, McGeady, Keane, Walters (Cox 83).

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The Irish players applaud travelling fans at the final whistle. Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Spain 4 Ireland 0 – Euro 2012, 14 June, 2012

Ireland were shown up in their opening Group C game with Croatia, and it wasn’t going to get any easier as reigning world champions Spain and eventual beaten finalists Italy were next up. In Gdansk, Ireland were completely outclassed on the pitch. Two from Fernando Torres were added to by David Silva and Cesc Fabregas on a night when most of the post-match talk surrounded the Irish fans rendition ‘The Fields of Athenry’. Ireland would suffer defeat in all three of their games and head home as statistically the worse team at the finals.

Team: Given, St Ledger, Ward, Dunne, O’Shea, Whelan (Green ’80), McGeady, Andrews, Cox (Walters ’46), Duff (McClean ’76), Keane.

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Keith Andrews can’t get near Xavi. Pic: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Ireland 1 Germany 6 – World Cup qualifier, October 12, 2012

The game which ultimately spelled the end of Giovanni Trapattoni reign a year ago. Two down at half-time, it finished 6-1 as an Ireland side stripped of several experienced players recorded their worst ever result in a competitive home fixture. The Italian was in defiant form during his post-match interview but the writing was on the wall and despite a 4-1 win over the Faroe Islands, his days were numbered.

Team: Westwood, Coleman, O’Shea, O’Dea, Ward, McGeady (Keogh ’69), Andrews, McCarthy, Fahey (Long ’51), Cox (Brady ’84), Walters.

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Miroslav Klose is surrounded by green shirts. Credit: INPHO/James Crombie

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