In Review

Ireland join home nations at Euro 2016 after Walters double

Martin O'Neill and even Roy Keane delighted as the Republic joins England, Wales and Northern Ireland at next summer's tournament

Republic of Ireland 2 Bosnia-Herzegovina 0.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and now the Republic of Ireland will all be heading to France next summer for the European Championships. The Republic sealed their place in the tournament with a 2-0 defeat of Bosnia in Dublin, three days after the sides drew 1-1 in the first leg of the play-off.

"These are the nights you live for," exclaimed manager Martin O'Neill. "I couldn't be more proud of the players. I don't think they had anything left to give. They're a fantastic bunch who want to play for their country and they have put their heart and soul into these games."

O'Neill singled out Ireland's two-goal hero, Jon Walters, for special praise, declaring: "There's been a number of fantastic performances and I think Walters has topped the lot - he's just been sensational."

Walters put the Irish one up on 24 minutes when the referee Bjorn Kuiper decided Ervin Zukanovic had handled a Daryl Murphy cross. It was a tough call from the Dutch official, with the Bosnian unable to avoid contact, but Walters made no mistake to put his side 2-1 ahead on aggregate.

Then the 32-year-old Walters - who missed the first leg through suspension - added a second with a sweet volley midway through the second half. "To qualify the way we did is unbelievable," the Stoke City forward said. "These are special moments. The whole team were heroes, everyone was incredible."

The result even brought a smile, albeit a fleeting one, to the face of Ireland's assistant manager, Roy Keane, who said: "The fight and determination we showed under lots of pressure, in terms of possession, we hung in there. All credit to the players."

But Keane was quickly looking to the future, warning the squad what he expected of them next summer in France.

"We won't want to go over there to make up the numbers," said Keane, who famously walked out on Ireland's 2002 World Cup campaign because he believed the squad's preparations were unprofessional. "We want to go over to put up a good performance and make the country proud."

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