I THINK WHERE Ireland are concerned you can only address each stage as it is.
The qualifying assignment was a difficult one, being in a group with Holland and Portugal. And for them to come out of that and then have to go through a play-off against Iran with the points total that they had is really a testament to what sort of side they are.
It is a saying that you take each game as it comes, but the Irish very much look like they do things that way.
Where they are different is that they are very much more capable of getting results now - meaningful results and particularly results away from home. They are more capable of doing that now than perhaps we were ten years ago
What effect has the exit of Roy Keane had on the side? I think, as a group doing well, I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that Roy is not there - they are a tight-knit group anyway.
I think anything that is there to disrupt them - we forget that Stephen Carr is not there, along with Mark Kennedy and Gary Doherty - you just feel that they will get on with it whatever is put in their way and deal with it the best way they can.
Chris Hughton looks back on the obstacles that Ireland has overcome on their way to a well deserved last 16 clash with Spain today.