Best sporting moments of the year - No 3: Brosnan and Barrett fire Ireland to a first World Cup

A penalty save and cool finish in the heat of a playoff battle made Hampden a happy hunting ground

Soccer – World Cup qualifying playoff, Scotland v Ireland, Glasgow, October 11th

A night like no other in Glasgow, where a penalty save and a sublimely taken goal provided historic stepping stones in Ireland’s historic qualification for the World Cup finals in Australia.

First, the penalty save.

Scotland’s Caroline Weir – whose day job is with Spanish giants Real Madrid – was handed the task of taking the 13th-minute spot kick. He left-footed shot was superbly struck, seemingly destined to creep inside Courtney Brosnan’s left post.


But, no, the Irish goalkeeper dived to her left and, outstretched, got a strong hand on the ball to propel it away.

Then, seven minutes after being sprung off the bench for the injured Heather Payne, a sense of destiny finding its subject came Amber Barrett’s way.

Denise O’Sullivan was inside the Irish half when a headed clearance came her way. One quick lookup was enough to see that Barrett was already galloping her way over the halfway line. Barrett brilliantly controlled O’Sullivan’s through-ball with her left foot, then moved it forward with her right and, at speed, finished with the outside of her right foot.

Even before the ball settled into the net, Barrett was already on her way to the endline where she stopped, pointed to the black armbands being worn by the team in memory of those killed in the Creeslough tragedy, kissed it and then sunk to her knees before being engulfed by her team-mates.

“This is the best day of my life in terms of what we have done for football but when you put it into perspective [with Creeslough] then we don’t scratch the surface of what happened there ... I’ve not been able to put into words about it. There has been a sombreness about me the past few days. This result, this game, that goal, this [player of the match] award, I’m dedicating it to those 10 beautiful souls who unfortunately perished on Friday,” said the Donegal woman.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times