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Goal-den boy Jonathan Walters hails Republic of Ireland heroics

By Damian Spellman

Published 17/11/2015

Sweet strike: Jonathan Walters fires the Republic of Ireland’s second goal against Bosnia to seal Euro 2016 qualification
Sweet strike: Jonathan Walters fires the Republic of Ireland’s second goal against Bosnia to seal Euro 2016 qualification

Two-goal hero Jonathan Walters paid tribute to his fellow players after the Republic of Ireland qualified for Euro 2016 with a 2-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Dublin to secure a 3-1 aggregate play-off victory.

And manager Martin O'Neill hailed his assistant Roy Keane for the part he has played in getting to the finals as the fans start to plan their trips to France next summer.

Walters scored a first-half penalty and the Stoke City striker, who then put the seal on qualification with a volley after the break, was quick to praise the team effort.

He said: "The whole team on the pitch are heroes. We got there in the end, we did it the hard way, but we got there.

"You've got to take it in because these moments don't come round often in a career."

Asked about the contribution of manager O'Neill and assistant Keane, Walters said: "They've been excellent through the whole campaign."

O'Neill's appointment of Keane as his assistant when he took the job two years ago wasn't universally popular.

The former Manchester United midfielder controversially walked out of the Republic squad just before the start of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea and didn't play for his country again for two years.

Many fans couldn't overlook that, but O'Neill said the decision to bring Keane in as his assistant had more than paid off.

"Bringing Roy Keane in is as good a decision as I've made in quite some time," said O'Neill.

Ireland's striker Jonathan Walters (C) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal from a penalty during a UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifying second leg play-off football match between Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's striker Jonathan Walters (C) celebrates after scoring his team's first goal from a penalty during a UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifying second leg play-off football match between Ireland and Bosnia Herzegovina at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Republic of Ireland's Jonathan Walters scores his sides first goal of the game from the penalty spot during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Jon Walters of Republic of Ireland scores from the penalty spot during the Euro 2016 play-off second leg between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic saves an attempt on goal by Republic of Ireland's Daryl Murphy during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Republic of Ireland fans Shane Peppard (centre) with his son Clayton, aged 9, (left) and nephew Sean, 12, from Clondalkin during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
James McCarthy of the Republic of Ireland goes past the tackle from Edin Cocalic of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Republic of Ireland's Seamus Coleman and Bosnia and Herzegovina's Senad Lulic (rear) battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
Senad Lulic of Bosnia and Herzegovina takes on Seamus Coleman of the Republic of Ireland iduring the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Republic of Ireland's Jonathan Walters (right) has a chance saved by Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic (left) during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
Wes Hoolahan (R) of Republic of Ireland and Ognjen Vranjes (L) Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Bosnia and Herzegovina fans in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina fans in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Republic of Ireland fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Young Ireland supporters show their support ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
A Republic of Ireland fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A Bosnia and Herzegovina fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina fans take pictures of there team warming up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
A Bosnia and Herzegovina fan in the stands prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Fans make their way into the ground before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Scarves on sale by street sellers before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Republic of Ireland fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Bosnia fans pose for pictures before the Euro 2016 play-off second leg match between the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Ireland's Seamus Coleman during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: The Bosnia and Herzegovina team warm up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Roy Keane (C) of the Republic of Ireland warms up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Republic of Ireland assistant coach Roy Keane looks on as his players warm up prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Young Ireland supporters show their support ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Republic of Ireland supporters outside the stadium before the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
A general view of the electronic scoreboad and hoarding boards ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
A general view of the Aviva Stadium ahead of the the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff second leg at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday November 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 16: A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier play off, second leg match between Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium on November 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

"He's been absolutely enormous for us.

"He's not taking too many of the accolades, but he's been fantastic for us, for myself, the backroom staff and the players."

The assistant manager says the players won't be getting carried away and he even referenced his highly controversial departure from the World Cup squad in 2002.

"We've been down this road before. As long as we're not in Saipan we're okay," joked Keane.

"We'll cross that bridge. Tonight is just about the players, to enjoy it. We'll reflect on it over the next few days.

"We obviously don't want to go over there just to make up the numbers. We'll go over there to do the country proud."

O'Neill also praised the players who have made it to Euro 2016.

"I couldn't be more proud of the players, they've been absolutely fantastic right from the start of qualifying," he added.

"The esteem that I hold these players in; it couldn't be higher."

Former Northern Ireland captain O'Neill, who won three Scottish League titles with Celtic, as well as leading Leicester City to two League Cup triumphs tried to put his achievements into context.

"This is a special night. It is very, very special, it can't be taken away from us," he said.

"When I look back I'll think this is a very, very proud moment."

Norwich City midfielder Robbie Brady, whose goal put the Republic ahead in the first leg before Bosnia equalised, provided the free-kick which led to Walters' second goal, his delivery cleared by a defender only as far as the Stoke striker at the far post.

Brady said: "It's the type of thing you grow up dreaming about. Everyone involved was excellent and we did everything we needed to and now we're off to France.

"I'm so proud of everyone involved. When things got tough I'm sure everyone involved has been through it before and we stuck together."

Derby defender Richard Keogh said: "It's an unbelievable feeling. We played really well. We got the first goal and we defended really well.

"For me to play for my country means the world to me. I've stepped up to the plate. I'm going to enjoy it."

Belfast Telegraph

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