Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Euro 2020 play-off battle with Republic would thrill fans, predicts Pat Jennings

 

Pat Jennings
Pat Jennings

By Graham Luney

Pat Jennings has admitted an all-Ireland play-off showdown to reach the Euro 2020 finals is a mouthwatering prospect but he's hoping Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can both hit their qualification target.

There remains a chance that Michael O'Neill's side could face Mick McCarthy's men in a play-off clash to reach the finals, and Northern Ireland legend Jennings, who is tournament ambassador for the Unite the Union Champions Cup clash between Dundalk and Linfield next month, believes fans will embrace the occasion in the right manner.

"We've played the Republic before. They are massive games that generate big interest and you want to win them," said Jennings, Northern Ireland's record appearance holder with 119 caps.

"The Republic didn't score against me but I've no doubt both teams would want to really win the game.

"It would be a huge game, but that's what football's about, and as long as it's just about the football. I'd love both teams to qualify separately because of how well they punch way above their weight.

"You saw the racist incidents in Bulgaria and it's so disappointing when people have been warned about it.

"Football brings people together and we are taking a stand saying we aren't going to put up with this.

"We had our sectarian problems in Ireland but hopefully we can keep bringing communities together and the Unite the Union Champions Cup can play a small part in that. Hopefully this tournament will last and we can get rid of some of the hatred we see today in football. There's no room for racism or sectarianism.

"Hopefully these Cup games will unite people."

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