Irish Soccer’s Most Memorable Moments, No 2: Putting the ball in the English net, 1988
Our runner-up in our greatest Irish soccer moments is Ireland’s first ever match at a major tournament and Ray Houghton makes his final opponent and Ray Houghton puts the ball in the English net.
Some would say it was fate, Ireland’s first ever match at a major international football competition was against the old enemy England.
Some would say it was Ray Houghton’s fate to score the opening goal against incredible odds in his first major tournament and his last against Italy, both 1-Nil wins.
That’s probably a tad too superstitious, but there was a delicious symmetry in the Ireland career of Houghton.
On the day itself we took a battering from an England squad that was the best since it won the World Cup in 1966, probably better than the one that reached the semi-finals of Italia ’90 and certainly puts their current squad to shame. Lineker, Waddle, Barnes, Beardsley and Robson were all names on the team sheet that day and to be fair they hammered us in general play but couldn’t sport…but the score ended up 1-0 to Ireland.
Packie Bonner made some great saves and early on in the match, Ray Houghton, the smallest man on the pitch, scored a looping header past Peter Shilton.
The mixture of opposition and the fact that this match was in many ways the beginning for Irish soccer gives this moment its lofty position in our countdown.
Tomorrow – our number one most memorable moment.
We’re counting down the days to Ireland’s Euro 2012 opener against Croatia. Join us every day in the build-up to the tournament for another classic Irish soccer memory.