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The history of Ireland v Scotland


This Saturday’s crunch game between the Republic of Ireland and Scotland will be the 11th meeting between the nations. The ten previous meetings have resulted in four wins apiece and two draws. We take a look back at the history of the fixture since the sides’ first meeting in 1961.

Scotland 4-1 Ireland, 3rd May 1961, Hampden Park, Glasgow [World Cup Qualifier]

Joe Haverty
Joe Haverty

Fixtures between Scotland and Northern Ireland were commonplace as part of the British Championship. However, the first fixture between the Republic of Ireland and Scotland took place in 1961 when the two teams were drawn in the same qualifying group for the following year’s World Cup in Chile. The game was played at Hampden Park and the home side were comfortable 4-1 winners with Ralph Brand and David Herd scoring a brace apiece. The Irish goal was scored by Arsenal’s left winger, Joe Haverty.

Ireland 0-3 Scotland, 7th May 1961, Dalymount Park, Dublin [World Cup Qualifier]

The return fixture took place four days later in Dalymount Park. Unfortunately, Ireland failed to reverse the score line from Hampden Park and the Scots won 3-0. Alex Young scored two first half goals, whilst a late goal by Alex Brand sealed the win. The loss effectively put paid to Ireland’s hopes of reaching the World Cup. Scotland would eventually miss out on qualification to a strong Czechoslovakia team.

Ireland 1-0 Scotland, 9th June 1963, Dalymount Park, Dublin [Friendly]

Noel Cantwell
Noel Cantwell

Two years later Ireland and Scotland met once again in a friendly at Dalymount Park. The Irish team included Alan Kelly Snr in goals, with Noel Cantwell and Charlie Hurley in defence against a Scottish side that was captained by Denis Law. Indeed it was Cantwell who popped up with a sixth minute goal, which was to prove the difference between the teams. The same Irish team eventually lost out on qualification for the following year’s European Championships when they lost to Spain, who were the eventual winners of the tournament.

Ireland 1-1 Scotland, 21st September 1969, Dalymount Park, Dublin [Friendly]

Mick Meagan
Mick Meagan


Ireland and Scotland’s fourth meeting within a decade took place in 1969 at Dalymount Park. The Irish team had changed somewhat since the previous fixtures with the introduction of new players such as Shay Brennan, Johnny Giles, Don Givens and Ray Treacy. The team was managed and captained by Mick Meagan. Scotland took the lead after eight minutes through a Colin Stein effort but Ireland equalised on 27 minutes with a goal from Givens.

Ireland 0-0 Scotland, 15th October 1986, Lansdowne Road, Dublin [European Championship Qualifier]

It would be 17 years before Ireland and Scotland would meet again. These were the early days of the Jack Charlton era and the teams were drawn in the same qualifying group for the European Championships. The first game took place in front of a crowd of 49,203 at Lansdowne Road. Both teams were packed full of experienced players, with the Irish team including Kevin Moran, Paul McGrath, Liam Brady and Frank Stapleton. The game itself was a dour affair, although Ireland had more possession and a shot from Kevin Sheedy was cleared off the line by Alan Hansen. However, it ended scoreless which meant that Ireland would face an uphill battle in their quest for qualification.

Scotland 0-1 Ireland, 18th February 1987, Hampden Park, Glasgow [European Championship Qualifier]

The return fixture at Hampden Park was the sixth meeting between the two nations, but only the second fixture to take place in Scotland. Injuries in the Ireland squad meant that Jack Charlton was forced to pick Paul McGrath and Ronnie Whelan as full-backs. Nonetheless, Ireland retained a strong backbone of experienced players. In the sixth minute a free kick from John Aldridge led to an opportunity for Mark Lawrenson and he converted to give Ireland an early lead. It was a lead that Ireland would not relinquish and Packie Bonner comfortably dealt with anything the Scots had to offer. The 0-1 victory represented a rare away win for Ireland and was to be a pivotal result as Ireland eventually qualified for their first major tournament at the following year’s European Championships. Of course Ireland’s qualification owed much to Scotland, as a late Gary Mackay goal beat Bulgaria in the final qualifying game in Sofia.

Ireland 1-2 Scotland, 30th May 2000, Lansdowne Road, Dublin [Friendly]

The next meeting between Ireland and Scotland was a friendly in Dublin in May 2000. Both teams were unfortunate to miss out on qualification for the European Championships, which was due to take place the following month. Irish manager Mick McCarthy spoke before the game about both teams looking to prove that they were the best sides not taking part in Euro 2000. Ireland took the lead in the second minute through a goal from Mark Kennedy. However, Scotland hit back with goals from Don Hutchison and Barry Ferguson later in the first half. Scotland dominated possession and were comfortable throughout. It was a disappointing loss for McCarthy’s team, but the fixture would prove to be an important building block in Ireland’s qualification for the World Cup two years later.

Scotland 0-2 Ireland, 12th February 2003, Hampden Park, Glasgow [Friendly]

Kevin Kilbane in action v Scotland 2003
Kevin Kilbane in action v Scotland 2003

Another friendly took place in early 2003 in what was Brian Kerr’s first game in charge of the Irish senior team. It was a game that Ireland dominated, with Steven Reid particularly impressive in midfield. Early goals from Kevin Kilbane and Clinton Morrison gave Ireland a two goal lead and Scotland never looked like getting back into the game. Whilst it was only a friendly game the result was perhaps symptomatic of the general decline that Scottish football had been going through since the late 1990’s.

Ireland 1-0 Scotland, 29th May 2011, Aviva Stadium, Dublin [Carling Nations Cup]

The next meeting of the teams took place at the new Aviva Stadium in what was to be the final game of the ill-conceived Carling Nations Cup. A crowd of just under 18,000 witnessed a 1-0 win for Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland. The goal arrived in the 23rd minute when Robbie Keane took a pass from Paul McShane and ran from inside his own half before firing a left-foot shot under the body of goalkeeper Allan McGregor from 25 yards. However, the result was somewhat flattering for Ireland as Scotland had plenty of opportunities to score with Kenny Miller particularly wasteful in front of goal. After the game Robbie Keane was presented with the Carling Nations Cup and Irish fans were treated to the rare sight of their team parading the pitch with a trophy to show for their efforts.

Scotland 1-0 Ireland, 14th November 2014, Celtic Park, Glasgow [European Championship Qualifier]

The most recent fixture between the nations will be fresh in the memories of the respective sets of fans. Ireland travelled to Celtic Park following a well-earned draw against world champions Germany. Much of the discourse in the build-up to the game concerned the former Celtic managers, Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan returning to their former ground and the distribution of tickets to Irish fans. The Scottish media and fans were also whipped into a frenzy regarding the potential return of Scottish-born Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy. Unfortunately McCarthy was unavailable through injury and he was joined on the injured list by Marc Wilson and Glenn Whelan. Additionally Robbie Keane was dropped to the bench for only the second time in his Ireland career. The game itself was poor with Scotland offering more on the night with Ireland resorting to long balls up to Shane Long and Jon Walters, and never really looking like scoring. Scotland won a corner in the 75th minute and quick thinking from the Scots, allied to some slack defending from Ireland, presented Shaun Maloney with the opportunity to open the scoring. The game ended 1-0 to Scotland who were deserving winners, but from an Irish point there were big question marks over Ireland’s tactical approach on the night.

  • Author: Alan Hannify
Published inblogfeature

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