Although the pain and hurt from previous failure will never be erased from the Irish memory banks, they have been masked by the joy of reaching Euro 2012.
The Republic’s 1-1 draw with Estonia in Dublin on Tuesday was a mere formality after their thumping 4-0 first leg win in Tallinn on Friday evening.
It means they have reached their first European Championships since their one and only appearance in 1988 and their first tournament of any kind since the 2002 World Cup.
Since that tournament in Japan and South Korea it has been tales of play-off heartaches for Irish fans, with the most frustrating being their clash with France in November 2009, where Thierry Henry’s blatant handball set up an extra time winner for France, with neither linesman nor referee spotting the clear infringement. True, it made for some of the most dramatic Live Football matches of recent years, but that proved scant consolation for those of a Gaelic persuasion.
Henry and co joined Spain, Holland, Turkey and Belgium as conquerors of the Irish at the play-off stage, with only a win over Iran to qualify for World Cup 2002 the bright spot among the play0ff gloom.
Until now that is. After years of having to Watch Football Live from their armchairs the Irish are now able to dig out their passports and plan for a trip to Poland and the Ukraine, with the prospect of playing England in the group stages a real possibility.
Speaking after the game in Dublin boss Giovanni Trapattoni couldn’t hide his delight, saying: “I am very, very proud for many reasons. We came here with an important objective.
“We have started the last campaign in a difficult group with Italy and then we had France, and we could have achieved qualification.
“But we started again and we have discovered new important options in terms of players. They have shown how important they have been for us.
“We have improved our quality, like against Russia. We have started again with new mentality and the players believe in our system.”
“I like the Irish people. I live in a little village and it is like Ireland.
“For me, it is like my life in Italy. For this reason, I am proud. I understand what the Irish people wish for and for this reason, I am very, very happy.”