Check out this footage of the joyful celebrations following Ireland’s penalty shoot-out win over Romania in the 1990 World Cup.

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 RTÉ 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 thrilling archive footage from RTÉ 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 shouts and dance around them, can’t help but smile at the ensuing madness.

Even though the game happened more than 30 years ago, it’s nearly impossible to watch this video without getting caught up in the crowd’s euphoria.

RTÉ TV archives

Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) is Ireland's national broadcaster, founded in 1960. Since then, the organization has been responsible for providing the Irish people with news, entertainment, and cultural programming across radio and television. Over the years, RTÉ has built up an impressive archive of content, capturing key moments in Ireland's history and culture.

RTÉ's TV archives are a treasure trove of Irish broadcasting history. The archive contains more than 750,000 hours of content, including news, current affairs, drama, comedy, and entertainment programs. This vast collection of material spans over six decades of broadcasting history, offering a unique insight into Irish life and culture.


*Originally published in June 2016, updated in July 2023.