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James McClean strike sends Republic of Ireland into World Cup play-offs along with Northern Ireland

By Gareth Hanna

Republic of Ireland have secured a place in the World Cup play-offs.

It appears that they cannot, however, meet Northern Ireland in the November matches as both teams look to be unseeded.

Derry's James McClean netted the all-important goal in the 57th minute, blasting home a Jeff Hendrick cross unmarked after a neat Harry Arters dummy.

It was, expectedly, a cagey affair with both teams playing to protect their chances of boarding the plane to Russia next summer.

Ireland needed to win to secure second spot in the group, overtaking their hosts in the process.

Wales began both halves strongly but near-post chances from corner-kicks at the start of each half was the best they could muster in front of goal. Without Gareth Bale and after Joe Allen was withdrawn injured in the first half, the hosts laboured.

Ireland, meanwhile, battled and created little in front of goal themselves, not that it mattered as McClean blasted home their solitary gilt-edged opportunity to put RoI in the October 17 play-off draw.

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