Murphy rescues a point on the opening day

It was a tough start for Ireland in Group D as they travelled away to eventual group winners Serbia for their first assignment.

Ireland got off to the perfect start when a deflected Jeff Hendrick strike from the edge of the penalty area put the visitors in front.

After that, however, it all went pear-shaped. Serbia took over and the only surprise was that it took so long - 62 minutes - for Filip Kostic to equalise.

Dusan Tadic's penalty seven minutes later had the visitors on the ropes, but substitute Murphy bailed Ireland out with his first international goal, heading home from a corner in the 81st minute to rescue a point that would go on to look more and more crucial as the group progressed.

Coleman’s mustard at home to Georgia

After starting the qualifying campaign with that 2-2 draw away to Serbia, Ireland were expected to kick on at home to Georgia in their second game.

It didn’t work out that way and Martin O’Neill’s side were lethargic and looked off the pace for long periods of the game as they struggled to impose themselves.

Georgia, who came into the game as underdogs were in truth the best team in the first half and should have been in front after they hit the Irish woodwork twice in the space of 10 seconds.

However, while Ireland improved marginally after the break it was captain Coleman who dragged them to victory with a scruffy goal that was more about his running and desire to get to the ball than any finishing ability.

All the same it was enough for three points.

McClean finds a way to beat Austria

It was a tough ask going to Austria back in November of 2016.

Ireland were beset by injuries and struggled to field a recognised striker with injuries to Shane Long and Daryl Murphy leaving Jon Walters as the only fit Irish front man.

There were problems at the back too with Stephen Ward and Cyrus Christie both injured, however, McClean, as he always does, did the running of two men throughout the game.

Playing in behind Walters initially before switching to a left position, the West Brom winger was everywhere and popped up when he was most needed to score the winner.

It was a clever through-ball from Wes Hoolahan which started things as he lifted the ball towards McClean from the half-way line before the Derry man cut inside to blast a wonderful shot past the Austrian goalkeeper and to the back of the net.

A scoreless draw at home against Wales

The game will always be remembered for that awful injury to Irish skipper Seamus Coleman after Neil Taylor’s reckless challenge left him with a broken leg, but it was the first part of a double header with Wales that left Chris Coleman’s men with just a point from two games.

It was a nasty, niggly affair and Gareth Bale and Glenn Whelan could have also seen red before Taylor was sent-off and despite Wales being marginally the better side, Ireland scrapped and fought their way to a point.

The match will also be remembered for being the first of two games in which the FAI attempted to foist a brass band on the Irish match-going public.

With the musicians hooked up to the ground’s PA System they were impossible to ignore, but thankfully, the experiment didn’t make it past the next game.

Murphy's double against Moldova

After a disastrous September in which Ireland went from the top of Group D to third as they took just a point from a trip to Georgia and a home clash with Serbia, something special was needed.

Shane Long wasn’t firing up front and so it fell to the in-form Daryl Murphy, who transferred his club form with Nottingham Forest onto the international stage.

Murphy’s first goal was all about pure striker’s instinct.

With just two minutes on the clock, a long throw from Stephen Ward was flicked on by a Shane Duffy and the ball dropped invitingly for Murphy who reached out a leg and hooked his shot into the goal and under the goalkeeper.

The second had a lot more class about it and was a fine team goal.

Once more it was Wes Hoolahan who initiated proceedings with a 40-yard crossfield pass towards Ward. The Irish fullback  took his time before sending over a teasing cross for Murphy and arched his back and headed it back in the direction it came from, giving the Moldovan goalkeeper no chance.

McClean’s winner in Wales

Unless you had a really heavy night celebrating Ireland’s progress to the play-offs, you won’t need me to remind you what happened here.

Some poor decision making by Welsh goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy was ruthlessly punished as he rolled out the ball to Ashley Williams who was immediately put under pressure by Jeff Hendrick.

The Burnley man stole the ball off the toe of Williams before carrying it to the byline and cutting back a low cross into the Welsh box. Harry Arter had the presence of mind to dummy it and the ball came though for McClean who coolly picked his spot and riffled it home.

In fact, don't take our word for it, here's the goal in all it's glory.