Previously unseen footage of the joyful celebrations following Ireland’s penalty shoot-out win over Romania in the 1990 World Cup has been released from the RTÉ archives.
The Irish, in their first World Cup finals, had moved into the knockout stages from Group F at Italia 90 without winning a game. With three draws in games against England, Egypt and Holland, and the lottery of drawn lots, they were lined up to play Romania in the last 16 of the World Cup. After a 0-0 stalemate, the teams entered into a penalty shoot-out.
David O’Leary stepped forward to take the final Irish penalty in the game. During his run up to the ball, the RTE Football commentator George Hamilton famously said, “The nation holds its breath.” O’Leary struck the ball with his instep to Romanian goalkeeper Silviu Lung’s left as he went right burying the match-winning goal.
The archive footage shows a crowd of people going wild after the win on June 25, 1990 and even one man breaking down into tears. O’Connell Street in Dublin is a free-for-all raucous party with people chanting and dancing on top of cars, climbing on monuments, splashing through fountains, and waving Irish flags through traffic.
Even the Gardaí, who try to maintain a professional demeanor while an ecstatic throng of people shout and dance around them, can’t help but smile at the ensuing madness.
Even though the game happened 26 years ago, it’s nearly impossible to watch this video without getting caught up in the crowd’s euphoria.