Republic of Ireland v Denmark – Historic Clashes
Here we go again. The Republic of Ireland meet Denmark for the sixth time in two years with a place at Euro 2020 up for grabs should they win.
Four of the previous five meetings have finished all square, with the 5-1 mauling by the Danes at the Aviva the outlier. We delve further back, though, and look at some clashes over the years that might give rise to some optimism among Irish fans.
Denmark 0-4 Republic of Ireland, August 2007
This friendly victory during Steve ‘Stan’ Staunton’s ill-fated reign followed impressive 1-0 wins against recent foes Wales and Slovakia in Euro 2008 qualifiers.
Robbie Keane and Shane Long bagged a brace apiece, as Staunton handed a debut to Manchester United’s hotly tipped youngster Darron Gibson while BoyleSports Football Ambassador Kevin Kilbane was on the bench. The victory flattered Republic of Ireland somewhat and proved to be a false dawn – they took just one point from their next two games in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
It was to be Stan’s last victory as Ireland boss, with the buck stopping with the gaffer just two months later.
Ah, more innocent times. Roy Keane was absent due to a hip injury – Saipan was a mere two months away – so this friendly was the perfect World Cup warm-up to determine how Mick McCarthy’s side could perform without their captain in tow.
Quite well, as it happened. The impressive young Blackburn Rovers winger Damien Duff created the opener for Ian Harte, before a 21-year-old Robbie Keane and Clinton Morrison massaged the scoreline. It brought Republic of Ireland’s unbeaten run to ten at Lansdowne Road while the game was infamous for the booing of PSV Eindhoven’s Peter Madsen by certain sections of the crowd – the stadium announcer having incorrectly stated that he was Rangers’ Peter Lovenkrands.
Denmark began the USA ’94 qualification campaign as unlikely European champions but started Group 3 badly, held to scoreless draws in Latvia and Lithuania. Meanwhile Republic of Ireland had secured maximum points and netted six goals without reply – with John Aldridge bagging four of them from their opening two games.
Another 0-0 draw followed for the Danes when they met Jack Charlton’s side at a raucous Parken Stadium in Copenhagen. Irish fans and players celebrated at the final whistle at what they – ultimately correctly – perceived to be a crucial point on the road.
Six months later Peter Schmeichel et al travelled to Dublin buoyed by victories over Spain, Latvia and Northern Ireland in the interim.
Charlton’s side were also in good form, having earned a point in Seville and beaten Northern Ireland 3-0 the previous month.
Again the spoils were shared, with Niall Quinn equalising a first-half Danish strike to keep both sides in contention for a World Cup place. Spain untimately topped the group and Ireland prevailed, but only just. They finished level on points and goal difference with Denmark, qualifying at the Dane’s expense on goals scored.
In retrospect this was such an extremely talented Irish side and Eoin Hand must have found it difficult to choose the first name on his team sheet. Brady, McGrath, O’Leary, Lawrenson, Stapleton, Sheedy, Beglin, Moran, Grealish (not that one), Cascarino and McDonagh. However, a first ever appearance at an international finals was still three years – and Jack Charlton’s appointment – away.
Quite simply, the Danes were no mugs themselves. They’d gone into the European Championship finals the year previously as Danish Dynamite dark horses, and their swashbuckling 5-0 win over Yugoslavia justified their pre-tournament tag.
They ultimately lost the semi-final to Spain on penalties…
…but many of those stars were still around when they hammered Republic of Ireland home and away to help them reach Mexico ’86.
Stapleton had put Ireland into an early lead but it didn’t last long with Danish captain Preben Elkjaer Larsen equalising a minute later. The striker had just helped Verona to a first Serie A title and was also runner-up to Michel Platini in the European Footballer of the Year awards that year.
Juventus star Michael Laudrup put the Danes ahead before Manchester United’s John Sivebaek and Larsen’s second put the game well beyond doubt.
The defeat proved to be Hand’s last game in charge, with Charlton appointed just months later.