Belfast Telegraph

McClean keeps dream alive

By Graham Luney

Republic of Ireland hero James McClean said there was "no better feeling in football" after firing his side into the play-offs for the World Cup.

McClean's 57th minute strike sunk Wales in Cardiff and catapulted Martin O'Neill's men into next Tuesday's play-offs draw.

But the Republic can't face Northern Ireland in the play-offs as they will both be unseeded, making their likely opponents either Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Portugal or Switzerland.

"The fans were unbelievable," said Londonderry man McClean. "A lot of people ruled us out and didn't give us a chance tonight but we went there and showed character.

"I remember it coming across, a great dummy by Harry Arter, I was just thinking keep it down and when it hit the back of the net there is no better feeling in football. We will enjoy tonight.

Thrilled boss O'Neill, who captained Northern Ireland at the 1982 World Cup, said: "Whenever the draw is made we will take our chance. I'm so proud. The players were magnificent playing away from home at a very good Welsh side."

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