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Harry Arter: Republic of Ireland rose to the big occasion again

10 October 2017 11:11
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Harry Arter: Republic of Ireland rose to the big occasion again

Just as they did when world champions Germany arrived in Dublin in October 2015 to keep their Euro 2016 qualification hopes alive, and again when they needed to beat Italy to make it to the knockout stage in France, the Republic delivered with perfect timing in Cardiff on Monday.

A 1-0 win saw Ireland leapfrog opponents Wales into second place in Group D and clinch a place in November's play-offs.

Bournemouth midfielder Arter said: "That's one thing I feel the group is good at. I look at the Euros and the result against Italy sticks out, and you take confidence from performances like that.

"When the big occasions come - Germany at home last year - we rise to the occasion. One thing that we'll probably be kicking ourselves about is looking at some of the games in the group that we could have got a result in.

"But ultimately we came here against Wales, who needed the same thing against us, and it was a tight game, but our determination got us there.

"It's what this group is made of. We are fighters. We might not be blessed with superstars like other nations, but we have got the togetherness and the willingness to get results, and that's what pulled us through."

Handed a start as manager Martin O'Neill implemented a specific game-plan, Arter was asked to provide energy and impetus in the middle of the field, and he played a significant role in James McClean's winner when he dummied Jeff Hendrick's pull-back to leave the West Brom man with time and space to pull the trigger.

However, he later revealed not all of his team-mates were convinced he had been quite as astute as it appeared.

"I didn't get a shout, but I could sense there was a player behind me. I didn't know it was James exactly, but I could sense (someone was there), so thankfully I did leave it and he tucked it away nicely."

The final whistled sparked celebrations both on and off the pitch at the Cardiff City Stadium and with the two-legged play-off to come next month, there could yet be better to come.


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