Belfast Telegraph

Eur O'Neill 2016 finals: the Michael and Martin show

By Graham Luney

Football history will be made in France next summer as Northern Ireland and the Republic compete alongside at a major finals for the first time.

Martin O'Neill's Republic joined Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland in the December 12 Euro 2016 finals draw with a 2-0 play-off victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina at a rocking Aviva stadium in Dublin last night for a 3-1 aggregate win after Friday night's 1-1 draw in Zenica.

It will also be the first time two former Northern Ireland international players have managed teams at a major finals.

And Martin O'Neill will be the first Northern Irishman to play and manage at World Cup and Euro finals.

Irish football fans will travel to France in huge numbers next June, but an all-Ireland battle appears unlikely as both sides are expected to be in pot four for the draw.

Republic boss O'Neill said: "I couldn't be more proud of this team.

Read more:

Search is on for Northern Ireland's next sports legend 

"They have been absolutely fantastic right from the start when Aiden McGeady scored to win 2-1 in our opening qualifier in Georgia. I thought then that the points could be crucial. 

"I hold the players in the highest esteem.

"They don't have everything, but courage and determination are things they have in abundance."

Jon Walters, who netted both his side's goals, said: "There was a whole team of heroes out there - we got there in the end.

"It is the best moment of my career in any shirt - to qualify for the European Championship finals is unbelievable."

Belfast Telegraph