Ger Dunne (centre) with Roy Keane and Martin O'Neill.
A Laois man is playing a vital part in helping Marin O'Neill and Roy Keane engineer an Ireland win over Denmark in the World Cup qualifier.
Portlaoise man Ger Dunne has been working as a Performance Analyst with O'Neill for the last number of years and is a key member of the Derry man's back room team.
Originally a Portlaoise AFC goalkeeper, Ger is now the Head Performance Analyst with the FAI. He has been in the role since 2015. Apart from overall work with the FAI, the job involves the in depth analysis of Denmark and other opposition the Republic of Ireland face. It can mean giving the players and staff last minute information in the dressing room.
If the Irish lads see off Denmark it will mark a three-in-a-row of great years for Ger. He was was involved with the team at the Euro 2016 finals. At the end of last year Ger told the Leinster Express that the win over Italy was an unforgettable highlight.
"The celebrations on the pitch after beating Italy 1-0 in Euro 2016. An amazing night where we felt it all just came together," he said.
Looking into the crystal ball Ger pointed clearly to qualification for the World Cup in Russia in 2018. Asked by Express Sport about his biggest fear for the year ahead he said: "We don’t qualify for the World Cup."
As to who played the biggest role in helping you to be successful in 2016, he named two key men. "Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane."
In an interview with Portlaoise AFC in 2015 Ger gave some interesting insights into how Ireland navigated the last big qualifier. The Republic had to see off Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015 to get to Euro 2016.
At the time the Bosnians were favourites. Apart from playing in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup, their team included arguably bigger stars than Denmark. Edin Džeko, formerly of Manchester City and now Roma, played up front. Miralem Pjanić of Juventus was midfield and Asmir Begović, then of Chelsea, was goalkeeper.
Just as with this World Cup qualifier against Denmark, Ireland played the first leg away. They drew but also scored a crucial away goal.
Ger said afterwards this left them “very calm and focused going into the second game”. He said the two legged nature of the tie made analytical preparation for the second match in Dublin easier as they were not dealing with a different team.
Ireland won the second leg 2-0 at the Aviva Stadium. Ger believed this was the result of homework which even the players might not see.
“The amount of work that we do versus what we show the players is massive,” he said in the Portlaoise AFC interview.
Ger says every single piece of information needs to be carefully analysed with the important pieces filtered through to the players before games. He believed this method also payed dividends over the Bosnians.
Ger has also worked with Dundalk FC in the Europa League, and is studying for his UEFA Pro License coaching badge. He hasn't lost his local links and remains a big fan of Portlaoise AFC first team.
"The lads are a great young group they deserve success," he told Express Sport last year.
After the dust settles on the qualifiers Ger will continue his work for the FAI and achieving his coaching badges. On November 24 & 25 he is one of the guest speakers at FAI Coaching Conference in Carlow IT where he is also a lecturer.