By Damian Dolan.
It’s 18 years since the Republic of Ireland met England on that fateful night at Lansdowne Road, and FAI chief executive John Delaney is determined that it won’t be as long until the next meeting.
Indeed, when we speak Delaney is in a position to confirm that the promised return game between the sides, originally pencilled in for November of next year, will in fact go ahead in February 2015 – precisely 20 years to the month after those terrible scenes when crowd trouble by English fans forced the game to be abandoned after just 27 minutes with Ireland leading 1-0 thanks to David Kelly’s goal.
The FAI might be forgiven for allowing another 20 years to slip by, but Delaney has pushed for this fixture for the past seven years. The sides’ May 29 meeting at Wembley is the result of years of behind scenes negotiations, and renegotiations. All he hopes now is that May 29 passes off without incident, and then the way will be clear for England to make their Dublin return.
“It was best felt that we should come over for the FA’s 150th Anniversary celebrations,” said Delaney. “The last time we’d played them was at the Aviva [Lansdowne Road] so we wanted the next time to be in Wembley, and they would then return to Ireland, which looks like being February 2015.
For more see this week’s edition of The Irish World