Unlikely hero John O’Shea hails ‘special’ moment

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Defender John O’Shea celebrated a “special moment” in his career after marking his 100th appearance for the Republic of Ireland with a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser in the Euro 2016 qualifier against Germany.

The 33-year-old struck in the fourth minute of stoppage-time at the Veltins Stadium in Gelsenkirchen last night to hold the reigning world champions to a 1-1 draw.

Asked where the evening ranked in his distinguished career to date, O’Shea said: “It’s definitely up there in the big scheme of things, the last minute against the team that won the World Cup in the summer.

“Thankfully it was the last kick of the game because we were running low on energy at that stage.”

The goal was just O’Shea’s third for Ireland, but could hardly have been any better timed as it maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign and left them as joint Group D leaders with Poland.

O’Shea said with a smile: “The ratio is getting higher! Ah sure, look, the big thing was to get something from the game. We didn’t want to have a half-decent performance and still lose, we wanted to take something from the game.

“Especially with Poland beating Germany the other night, we had to take something from tonight. Germany are missing a lot of players too - they are going to get stronger and stronger - so we had to get something from the game and thankfully, we did.”

Ireland looked to be heading for defeat when Toni Kroos finally broke their stubborn defences with a 71st-minute strike from distance.

Until that point, goalkeeper David Forde and a committed defensive display had kept the Germans at bay.

However, Joachim Low’s men failed to kill the game off despite enjoying a wealth of possession, and although defender Erik Durm denied substitute Wes Hoolahan an 86th-minute equaliser with a fine block, he and his team-mates could do nothing to prevent O’Shea from levelling.

Manager Martin O’Neill said: “It was a great point for us, to come to the home of the world champions from a few months ago and get something out of the game.

“We had to withstand a bit of pressure, but we knew that would happen. Our idea was to threaten them, to use the ball better than we did in the first half.

“At half-time, I felt we were reasonably okay. They scored a goal - we should have closed it down a couple of times - and then what was the point of losing the game if you can’t kind of go for it?

“There’s always a chance. It was a fantastic effort from the team, really really fantastic. We just never gave up. We kept going. I never felt, funnily enough, that we were out of the game after we conceded the goal. That’s of great credit to the players.”