Ireland head Group 2 with 18 points, three ahead of Portugal who have a game in hand. The decisive factor is likely to be the difficulty level of the remaining games.
The Irish look forward to two home games against Holland (in third place) and Cyprus, while Portugal await games with Andorra and Cyprus, both away, and Estonia at home.
It is difficult to imagine the gifted Portuguese dropping points in those fixtures which, in theory, leaves Ireland and Holland to slug it out for second place and the lottery of the play-offs — a system which has suited Ireland none too well in the past, having missed out on three major tournaments following a play-off.
The crucial game looks set to be between the Irish and Dutch in Dublin on September 1 — and Gary Doherty must fancy his chances of featuring in that game.
The Doc came on in Estonia as a first half substitute for Niall Quinn, who is still struggling with the back injury that has plagued him in the latter stages of his career.
Manager Mick McCarthy is determined that Quinn will battle on for the Republic, but concedes: "If Quinny's not fit for the rest of the campaign then we'll have to do something else."
Quinn himself added: "I'll go off for a break now and see how the back settles down before pre-season training starts at Sunderland in July.
"But I want to give it another go because we are so close to qualifying for the World Cup finals and, having had that experience already, I'd love to get there again.
"I took a bump early on in the Estonia game and landed heavily on the same spot that has given me problems. It really hurt at the time and it has stiffened up. Time will tell, but hopefully I'll be all right."
All at Spurs know what an able deputy Doherty is as an attacking option and his hard work an aerial presence was a feature of Ireland’s play in Estonia.
So, while Teddy Sheringham will be hoping to be part of shaping England’s World Cup destiny in Munich on the same day, The Doc could well be downing the Dutch in Dublin. September 1 is the day — put in your diary!
The Republic of Ireland, including Stephen Carr and Gary Doherty, are on course for at least a World Cup qualifying play-off spot after securing after registering a 2-0 win in Estonia.