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Whelan driven by Paris pain in play-off quest

JOB done and a place in the play-offs secured. Teams like Serbia, Norway, Switzerland, Slovakia and Belgium are this morning counting the cost of failure and dreading the long, long wait before the World Cup qualifiers kick off next year, while Ireland march into the play-offs.

Even better was the news that Ireland will not be facing France in the play-offs.

And Glenn Whelan believes that the memory of that defeat by France two years ago is driving the team forward on the road to Poland and Ukraine. "I think the experience of two years ago will stand to us, I never want to get that feeling again," Whelan said after playing his part in last night's win. "It was gut-wrenching and it took a while to get over. We have talked about it, how we don't want that to happen again, and we will keep that in our heads. Whoever we get in the play-offs it will be like a final, home and away, but hopefully we can do the job this time around and get over that line and qualify, no matter who we get, but it's going to be a tough job.

"We got the job done. There was a lot of pressure on us last night, Armenia are a top team and they've come in with some great results but we held out well and got the result.



changed

"We went out with a game plan, we are always hard to beat. The game was quite even at 11 v 11 but what happened with their 'keeper changed the game a bit.

"It was the same as usual from us. We've gone 2-0 up and are cruising but we gave away a sloppy goal and made it hard for ourselves, but they needed to score two goals and I don't think that was ever going to be the case," added the Stoke City man, aware that the impact off the bench of his clubmate Jonathan Walters was one of the big pluses of a night which cost Ireland the services of Kevin Doyle, on top of the already absent Robbie Keane, for the play-off first leg at least.

"The manager has a headache now over who to pick up front as Jon Walters came on and did really well. We have 11 lads all itching to get into the team so that's all good for the team," added Whelan.

Whelan added that Kevin Doyle is gutted to miss out on the first leg of next month's play-off due to suspension after picking up the first red card of his career last night.

Doyle was booked in the 68th minute and again on 81 minutes, for use of the elbow while jumping for a high ball, and the Wexford man will play no part of the first leg of the play-off.

"I don't know if the referee was just trying to even things out after sending off the Armenia keeper," says Whelan. "But it's the same old thing, foreigners coming and crying like they're women, Kevin is disappointed, it's the first time he's been sent off in his professional career, he misses one game but he'll be raring to go for the second leg."