24.03.2007 at 15:00 Croke Park
Republic of Ireland
1 - 0
Referee: Terje Hauge (Norway)
European Cup Qualifier / Prog-match
Paul Mc Shane
Republc of Ireland 1 Wales 0
Republic of Ireland marked the first ever football match at Croke Park with a 1-0 win over Wales in Euro 2008 qualifying Group D.
Stephen Ireland scored the only goal of the game on 39 minutes to boost Steve Staunton's prospects of leading his country to the finals in Austria and Switzerland.
The goal maintained Ireland's record of scoring in all three of the qualifiers in which he has featured and condemned Wales to a third defeat in four matches.
Damien Duff's floating presence was an early menace for Ireland, although there was a lack of end product from the home side.
Robbie Keane was twice found in good positions, but his first attempt was to drag wide after he intercepted Simon Davies' poor clearance from a corner.
On 21 minutes, Keane was then released by Ireland, but after steadying himself in the box, he screwed his shot wide of the target.
Wales' focus appeared on trying to contain their opponents and the visitors threatened only once in the first half when Craig Bellamy pinched the ball off a hesitant Richard Dunne.
He surged ominously towards the area, but after twisting Paul McShane inside out, a slightly heavy touch allowed Shay Given out to make a brave block.
Ireland's response was to crank up the tempo and Keane, after pouncing on a slack Sam Ricketts pass, sent Duff clear, only for Danny Coyne to make a smart stop with his legs.
The reprieve was only fleeting however, as Keane's next pass sent Ireland scampering clear and he rounded Coyne before slotting in from an acute angle.
Carl Fletcher was introduced for Joe Ledley at half-time to add more bite into the Wales midfield, while Ireland sought to pick up where they left off.
A neat move involving Duff, Ireland and John O'Shea created a chance for Lee Carsley 25 yards from goal, but the tireless midfielder's shot deflected straight to Coyne.
Duff then shot equally tamely at Coyne before Wales started to get hold of possession, although there was still a lack of thrust about their play, with captain Ryan Giggs a largely anonymous figure.
Carl Robinson's gentle header from Fletcher's cross crept straight to Given before Keane was booked for fouling the substitute - a yellow card which rules him out of Wednesday's qualifier with Slovakia.
Ireland almost scored a fortuitous second goal 10 minutes from time when Keane cleverly headed the ball on to Kevin Doyle and the substitute's sliced volley bounced back off the post.
Wales threw James Collins up front, but found themselves increasingly exposed to the counter-attack and Kevin Kilbane broke from midfield, but Keane was unable to convert his cross under pressure from Robinson.
Giggs struck a powder-puff free-kick into the arms of Given late on, but Wales never looked likely to ruin Ireland's celebrations on such a historic day.
Instead, the result surely consigns Wales to missing out on another major tournament, while Ireland will watch Saturday evening's meeting between Czech Republic and Germany with great interest.
Republic of Ireland: Shay Given (Newcastle United); John O’Shea (Manchester United), Paul McShane (West Brom), Richard Dunne (Manchester City), Steve Finnan (Liverpool); Stephen Ireland (Manchester City), Jonathan Douglas (Leeds United), Lee Carsley (Everton), Kevin Kilbane (Wigan Athletic), Damien Duff (Newcastle United), Robbie Keane (Tottenham Hotspur).
Subs; Kevin Doyle (Reading) for Ireland 59; Stephen Hunt (Reading) for Douglas 80; McGeady (Celtic) for Keane 89.
Wales: Daniel Coyle (Burnley); James Collins (West Ham), Steven Evans (Wrexham), Lewis Nyatanga (Barnsley); Samuel Ricketts (Hull City), Joseph Ledley (Cardiff City), Carl Robinson (Toronto), Simon Davies (Fulham), Gareth Bale (Southampton); Craig Bellamy (Liverpool).Ryan Giggs (Manchester United).
Subs: Carl Fletcher (Crystal Palace) for Ledley 46; Daniel Collins (Sunderland) for Bale 74; Jermaine Easter (Wycombe) for Robinson 90.
Referee: Mr. T. Hauge (Norway).