Frenetic, high-scoring games have never been a regular feature of the Irish national team's history (regardless of the era), but the qualifying campaign for the 1992 European Championship did manage to serve one up.
Having been drawn in a four team group that featured Poland, England and Turkey (the latter team then still very much a minnow in international footballing terms), Jack Charlton's men were expected to be the team that would push Graham Taylor's England all the way for the one qualifying place at 'Sweden 92'.
With an easy 5-0 win over Turkey at Lansdowne Road having been followed by two 1-1 draws against “the old enemy”, it looked as if the Boys in Green would need to win at least one of their two upcoming games against Poland if they hoped to keep pace with the English (who had beaten the Poles 2-0 at Wembley in their opening game).
However, a sunny May afternoon at Lansdowne produced no goals, and so five months later it was off to Poznan's Stadion Lecha to see if Charlton's side could secure the win that would likely keep them within a point of England going into the last round of matches.
A 12th minute header by Paul McGrath separated the sides at the break . Andy Townsend also had a goal disallowed for offside and things seemed to be going to plan, with the hostile home crowd having been silenced and the 2,000 or so Irish supporters in the stadium now very much making themselves heard.
The home side still harboured qualification ambitions of their own, however, and defender Piotr Czachowski fired in an equaliser for Poland in the 59th minute, before composed finishes from both Townsend and Tony Cascarino sent the Irish back into a 3-1 lead with just over 20 minutes left to play.
An opportunistic goal by Jan Furtok saw the Poles pull one back in the 77th minute, though, and with four minutes remaining, the comeback was complete when striker Jan Urban dived to connect with a cross from the right. Two points had been turned into one, and although the Poles held England to a 1-1 draw at the same venue the following month, it would not be enough to prevent Graham Taylor's side traveling to Sweden for the tournament the following year.
The Poland-Ireland draw was arguably the decisive result in this group, as a win for Ireland (when combined with their subsequent victory in Istanbul) would have seen Bonner, McGrath et al qualify ahead of England by virtue of having a better goal difference.
The Stadion Lecha has since been renovated and renamed the Stadion Miejski, and Ireland's presence at this year's finals has all but made up for that 1991 match, and the four other “failed” Euro campaigns since. Still, we can only hope that if Trapattoni's men somehow charge into a 3-1 lead this Sunday (or in our other Poznan match against Italy), they manage to hold out for the win!