It's a case of here we go again on the play-off merry-go-round as the Republic of Ireland strive to make another major tournament.

Our date with Slovakia and hopefully another day out against either Bosnia or Northern Ireland next month, with the prize of a place at next summer's rescheduled Euros, will be the tenth time the Republic have entered the play-off den.

A tot up of the previous efforts gives a score of 3/9. Not a great success rate. That said, the story of Ireland's efforts while in that last-chance saloon has given us no little drama. We've had behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing, moments of joy and despair on the pitch and the ending of an era that really elevated football in this country. 

Let's have a look back.

Republic of Ireland v Spain - World Cup 1966 qualification play-off

Irish goalkeeper Pat Dunne can only watch as Jose Antonio Ufarte (r) scores for Spain in that play-off from 55 years ago

In the end the Irish gave it a go in their quest to reach the finals in England. They pushed the then European champions Spain all the way, before going down to a 1-0 defeat in Paris. It would, however, be remiss not to tell the story of what happened in advance of that Parc Des Princes clash.

Ireland were drawn in a qualification group that included the Spaniards and Syria. The latter, in protest against the treatment of African countries by FIFA, withdrew, and so it came down to two games between Ireland and Spain.

Dalymount Park was the venue for the first leg, with the home side victorious 1-0. The return in Seville saw the Spaniards triumph 4-1. But back in the swinging 60s, the aggregate score did not count. And so onto a third game at a neutral venue.

There was much back and forth between the two associations as to where the match would be played. The FAI were keen on Manchester or London, while their Spanish counterparts, rather selfishly, were looking at a ground in Spain or Portugal. In the end both settled on Paris, with the FAI agreeing to the French capital in exchange for Spain's share of the gate receipts. 

Financially, the FAI did well out of the deal to the tune of £25,000, but the Irish team had little support in Paris to cheer them on on that November night in 1965. The governing body's lack of ambition at the time did not go down well with the players, with the late Tony Dunne, then with Manchester United saying: "I had become a winner then, I wanted to win, so you can imagine my disgust when I learned that the Irish officials had agreed to play the game in Paris in return for the gate receipts.

"It had to be the biggest disappointment of my career because it was certainly the biggest opportunity to qualify in my time, and with the finals in England, who knows what might have happened?"

Republic of Ireland v Holland - Euro 96 qualification play-off

John Sheridan in action against Denis Bergkamp in that Euro '96 play-off

A one-off game at Anfield would decide the final spot at the finals to be played in England. Not surprisingly it was tournament that Jack Charlton wanted to qualify for. Things were going well in qualification up until that disastrous 0-0 draw away to Liechtenstein. A week later, Austria, inspired by Toni Polster, whipped the Irish 3-1 at Lansdowne Road. The wheels were coming off!

A 2-1 win over Latvia would ultimately be decisive in earning a play-off, despite a 3-0 hammering by Portugal in the final group game.

And so to the home of Liverpool FC on 13 December 1995 for a date with the Dutch. The day before the game saw the qualifying draw for World Cup 1998, where Ireland were placed in a group alongside Romania, Lithuania, Macedonia, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

On RTÉ television's coverage of the draw, manager Jack Charlton's was asked for his thoughts, but was non-committal, focusing instead on the impending Dutch assignment. Following his death last July, a few journalists remarked that Charlton actually "fancied" another qualifying campaign, an opportunity they added for him to come up with another style of play. The Yorkshire man would not get that chance as he and the FAI would part company a few weeks after Holland deservedly beat Ireland 2-0.

Without Roy Keane, Steve Staunton and Niall Quinn, the task at Anfield was made that bit harder as two goals from Patrick Kluivert highlighted Dutch supremacy. 

Jack Charlton waves to the Anfield crowd, with his assistant Maurice Setters

Despite the loss, the Irish fans showed their appreciation for Jack Charlton on the night, and the manager reciprocated when saluting the Green Army after the final whistle.

Republic of Ireland v Belgium - World Cup '98 qualification play-off 

Mick McCarthy's first campaign was far from memorable in terms of exciting games. In fairness the manager was trying to put his own stamp on things in terms of new players coming through. The 3-2 defeat away to Macedonia was a low point of sorts and t-shirts are there to prove it. 

The Irish stumbled into a play-off, finishing a point ahead of Lithuania in the race for second spot in the group. A two-legged clash against Belgium would decide who'd get that ticket to the first-ever 32-team World Cup in France.

The opening leg on 29 October 1997 at Lansdowne Road finished 1-1, with Denis Irwin getting the Irish goal from a free kick. Overall, the home side lacked ambition on the night; their cause not helped by Roy Keane's absence through injury.

Lee Carsley in action against Luis Oliveira of Belgium on what was a wet night in Brussels

On 15 November, the refurbished Heysel Stadium was the venue as Ireland strived for a third consecutive World Cup appearance. Despite an improved performance, McCarthy's men went down 2-1 and so missed out on a 3-2 aggregate score. Ray Houghton got the Irish goal in what was his final appearance in the green jersey.

Republic of Ireland v Turkey - Euro 2000 qualification play-off

Robbie Keane celebrates his goal against the Turks at Lansdowne Road

In this campaign, we were so close to qualifying automatically for the finals in Belgium and Holland. With seconds to go in the final group game away to Macedonia, Ireland were 1-0 up, thanks to an 18th minute goal from Niall Quinn.

A win would have guaranteed top spot and a trip to the Low Countries. But we were hanging on, desperation stuff and all that. The effort was in vain, however, as the Macedonians scored right at the death and there was no time to respond.

Mick McCarthy did ship some abuse for a rather negative approach in not building on the 1-0 advantage and for the 'car park defending' in the earlier 1-0 loss in Croatia.

Still, there was a two-legged date with the Turks to come.

Lansdown Road played host to the first instalment on 13 November 1999. An event contest ended 1-1, but the home side would have been disappointed when conceding just minutes after Robbie Keane fired them in front on 79 minutes. The Turks scored from the penalty spot. 

Tony Cascarino of Republic of Ireland is caught up in the centre of the pitch with riot police 

Four days later it was off to Bursa without the suspended Robbie Keane. In a game where both sides had chances to score, Turkey held out for a 0-0 draw and were through on away goals.

After the game they were some unsavoury scenes as Tony Cascarino was kicked and punched by Turkish players and also attacked by fans. The riot police had to intervene has things threatened to really get out of control. 

Republic of Ireland v Iran - World Cup 2002 qualification play-off

Ian Harte put Ireland ahead in the first leg

In the end, it was a case of try, try and try again for Mick McCarthy. At the third time of asking the Barnsley native finally got us to the big stage when qualifying for Japan and South Korea.

In a qualifying group that contained Portugal and Holland, not many gave the Irish a chance in splitting that pair, but that they did with spirited away draws in Lisbon and Amsterdam and a decisive win over the Dutch at Lansdowne Road - an outcome that eliminated the latter with a round of games to go.  

Portugal's superior goal difference saw them grab the automatic qualifying spot. Familiar territory for Irish then, but this time their play-off opponents weren't from Europe, it was Iran.

The first leg at Lansdowne Road on 10 November 2001 saw Ireland, despite a few scares late on, run out 2-0 winners.

Robbie Keane and Ian Harte from the penalty spot got the goals. 

Ian Harte, Gary Breen, Matt Holland, Jason McAteer and Niall Quinn in fine voice after qualification was achieved

Five days later the Azadi Stadium in Tehran hosted the second leg. Roy Keane did not travel and returned to Manchester United. His absence overshadowed the reportage in advance of the game. He clearly was not injured, with most thinking, however true it was, that Keane felt the job was done and therefore he was not needed in the Iranian capital.

Ireland did get the job done in front of a crowd of 90,000, despite a 1-0 defeat. Iran's goal came in injury time' leaving the aggregate score 2-1.

Republic of Ireland v France - World Cup qualification 2010 play-off

The moment Henry's hand caressed the ball

This story has been well told. Thierry Henry guiding the ball with his hand to tee up William Gallas to score has left an indelible mark on the Irish sporting psyche. Gallas' goal put the French 2-1 ahead on aggregate. They would hold on for the remainder of extra-time on that night in Paris and secure their passage to the finals in South Africa. 

Heartache for an Irish side who played excellently. Robbie Keane had them in front on 33 minutes. The same player, along with Damien Duff and John O'Shea had chances to extend that lead in the second half. The tie could have been done and dusted in favour of the Irish on 90 minutes. 

In the qualifying group, Giovanni Trapattoni's side had shown glimpses of what they could produce when drawing 1-1 away to Italy. The Italians would ultimately gain the automatic qualification berth.

Four days before the Paris drama on 14 November 2009, Croke Park was packed for the visit of the French. A deflected Nicolas Anelka goal in the 73rd minute settled the issue. There was little confidence then that Ireland could produce the performance they put in at the Stade de France.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

The day after Henry's intervention and Ireland's elimination, the FAI sent letters to FIFA and the French Football Federation to request that the match be replayed. Subsequent to that we had an FAI request to be the 33rd team at the World Cup, something which then FIFA general secretary, Sepp Blatter laughed at. He later would apologise. 

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

In 2015 it would emerge that then FAI chief John Delaney accepted a €5million pay-off from FIFA to 'soften the blow; from that night in Paris.

Republic of Ireland v Estonia - Euro 2012 qualification play-off

Job done and the feline in the bag

After finishing second behind Russia in Group B, Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland were seeded for the play-off draw and there was much satisfaction when Estonia were drawn from the hat. Such satisfaction was justified as the Irish advanced to the finals in Poland and Ukraine on a 5-1 aggregate scoreline.

On 11 November 2011 in Tallin, goals from Keith Andrews, Jon Walters, and a Robbie Keane brace secured a 4-0 victory against nine-man Estonia. Four days later, a party atmosphere ensued with the fans there to show their support for the Euro-bound team. The second leg finished 1-1.

If only all play-offs were as straightforward.

Republic of Ireland v Bosnia & Herzegovina - Euro 2016 qualification play-off 

Robbie Brady emerges from the gloom to celebrate his goal against Bosnia

An expanded Euros tournament would now see 24 teams at the party. Third place in qualifying behind Germany and Poland was sufficient for Martin O'Neill's side to earn a second chance at making it to France.

Despite being unseeded for the play-off draw, the Republic would get to play the second leg at home, normally seen as an advantage if you carry an away goal. Bosnia & Herzegovina were the opposition and the first leg took place on 13 November 2015.   

The opening half was tight, with Ireland on top in terms of possession. As for the second period, well for those watching on television and indeed for RTÉ match commentator George Hamilton, it was hard to make sense of things as a thick fog descended. Amid all the gloom in Zenica, Robbie Brady did find the net to put the visitors ahead on 83 minutes, only for Edin Džeko to equalise three minutes later. It ended 1-1. Not a bad outcome to take back to the Aviva three days later. 

Joyous scenes in the Aviva dressing room

A packed house in Dublin 4 saw Ireland comfortably book their passage following a brace of goals from Jonathan Walters, the first from the penalty spot. Cue much celebration, both on and off the pitch.

Republic of Ireland v Denmark - World Cup 2018 qualification play-off

The road to Russia for the Republic of Ireland ended with an embarrassing defeat 

An impressive start to qualifying that saw Ireland gain 10 points out of 12  raised hopes that we could top a group that contained Serbia, Wales and Austria. However, O'Neill's side could not maintain that momentum and it was the Serbs who would gain the automatic ticket to Russia. A James McClean goal against Wales that yielded a 1-0 win would keep the Boys in Green in the hunt. 

Denmark, over two legs then had to be negotiated, and while the second leg would be in Dublin, there was no great confidence that Ireland could end a 16-year wait to reach a World Cup finals.

On 11 November 2017, a sterile 0-0 draw was played out in Copenhagen. 

A string of Darren Randolph saves in the first half, and another in the final minute, kept Ireland in the contest as the home side dominated proceeding from the early exchanges.

Cyrus Christie enjoyed Ireland's best effort on goal late in the first half.

The return leg at the Aviva started so well as Shane Duffy rose majestically to head the ball home in the sixth minute.

However, two goals within three minutes put Denmark in control of the game as Andreas Christensen and Christian Eriksen struck in the 29th and 32nd minutes.

Three further second-half strikes sealed the victory for the visitors as Eriksen banged home a brace with either foot as Ireland capitulated, before Nicklas Bendtner smashed home a last-minute penalty.

The 5-1 margin did not flatter the Danes. Ireland were a rudderless heap on the final whistle

Follow Slovakia v Republic of Ireland (Thursday, 7.45pm) via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player from 7pm or listen to live commentary on RTÉ 2fm's Game On.