World Cup Trophy Next to Ball

Ireland Cannot Afford to Miss Out on the 2026 World Cup

For a nation as passionate about football as the Republic of Ireland, absence from the World Cup is a bitter pill to swallow.

Ireland’s last appearance came 22 years ago and they have not qualified for a major tournament since 2016. They are in danger of becoming irrelevant on the international stage.

Reaching the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada cannot just be a dream for the team – it is essential for Irish football.

Ireland Seeking a Return to the Promised Land

The 2026 World Cup, co-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, is an opportunity for Ireland to put themselves back on the map.

The large Irish fanbase in these countries will come out in full force to support the team. If Ireland return to the biggest stage, expect a betting frenzy amongst the passionate Irish supporters.

The top Irish betting apps will be buzzing with punters eager to back their beloved team. Ireland’s return to US soil for the World Cup would spark a wave of optimism after their exploits in 1994.

Ireland World Cup 1994 Results
Ireland’s Performance at the 1994 World Cup

Ireland were drawn in Group E alongside eventual finalists Italy, but they refused to be fazed by the European heavyweights. They claimed a memorable scalp against the Azzurri at the Giants Stadium in East Rutherford. Ray Houghton scored the only goal as Ireland upset the bookmakers’ odds.

Ireland lost their next game against Mexico but secured qualification to the next round with a draw against Norway.

They were knocked out by the Netherlands in the round of 16, but that win against Italy was a bold statement – the kind Ireland need to make again to avoid tailing off into obscurity.

Ireland have disappointed their fans by constantly underachieving in recent years. Qualifying for the 2026 World Cup is a chance for the team to win back their supporters.

Reasons for Optimism on the Emerald Isle

Cheering Ireland Fans

Many fans lost their love for the game under Stephen Kenny’s awful reign as Ireland manager.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) sacked him after three unremarkable years in which he failed to lead them to any international tournament.

Kenny’s underwhelming tenure saw the team register only 11 wins in 40 games. Ireland did not have an identity or a clear style of play. They trudged from game to game, stumbling through fixtures without making a mark.

The team needed fresh ideas, and the FAI brought in John O’Shea as the interim boss while they searched for a new permanent head coach.

They haven’t done badly under O’Shea. His reign opened with a fixture against Belgium where they secured a notable 0-0 draw. Brighton and Hove Albion starlet Evan Ferguson missed a penalty and another fantastic opportunity to seal the win in the dying minutes.

O’Shea set up the team in a 3-4-3 shape, and his ideas were clear from the first minute. He put men behind the ball, and they waited for their opportunities to hit their opponents on the break.

The former Manchester United defender opted for an even more conservative 5-4-1 shape against Switzerland, but it backfired as they lost 1-0.

He returned to the 3-4-3 formation, and it worked perfectly as they claimed a 2-1 win over Hungary, with Troy Parrott scoring a dying-minute winner and handing the team a big boost.

Several months have passed since Kenny’s departure, but the FAI’s search for a permanent manager remains frustratingly futile.

The high-profile names being tossed around may be exciting on paper, but the constant speculation could disrupt the momentum O’Shea is building ahead of World Cup qualifiers in 2025.

There’s a growing sentiment amongst fans that perhaps the answer has been under their noses all along. He might be the man to take them to the promised land.

O’Shea has instilled a working tactical approach and a fighting spirit into this team. His pragmatic approach is not aesthetically pleasing, but it is delivering results.

With World Cup qualifiers coming next year, it may be wise to stick with him as Ireland look to book their place at the 2026 showpiece.