The last time that the Republic of Ireland played Luxembourg in a competitive match was not a game that lived long in the memory.

For those of us who do remember the 2-1 win, on what was a murky evening at Lansdowne Road in September 1987, well it did little to endear us to the footballing philosophy of one Jack Charlton. Okay, a win was a win and the Irish were still in the hunt for a place at Euro '88.

There was another home match against Bulgaria to come, which Ireland won 2-0, but favours were then needed if we were were to dine at the top table in Germany. Little did we know what would ultimately transpire and what was tellingly set in train when a Scot, Gary Mackay, found the Bulgarian net on that night in November. The story thereafter has been well documented. 

But, back to that evening against the Grand Duchy at Lansdowne. RTÉ only gave the nation highlights of what transpired before 18,000 spectators at the Dublin 4 venue. For me a banner reading, 'Free The Birmingham Six', that was draped across the Havelock Square end, was the takeaway snapshot.

The plight of 'The Six', and their upcoming appeal against life sentences handed down for the murder of 21 people, was big news at the time. The appeal was unsuccessful. It took three-and-a-half more years and another appeal before the men were finally released.

In May of '87, the Irish defeated Luxembourg 2-0 in the away fixture. It was expected that Jack's side would win by a bigger margin in the return clash. There was no goal rush, however. It was Luxembourg who took the lead on 28 minutes when, after a sloppy clearance from Ronnie Whelan, debutant Armin Krings shot low to the corner of Gerry Peyton's net. 

Up to that point, the hosts in the words of Noel Dunne in The Irish Independent, offered "plenty of thundering promise, but no lightning flashes of inspiration or finish".

The huff and puff did yield an equaliser on 31 minutes after Frank Stapleton headed home Ashley Grimes' cross.

"Last night's game at Lansdowne was woeful... a nightmarish view of British (and Irish football) at its sweaty and unimaginative worst"

Level at the break, with Dunne also commenting that the visitors and the Garda Band "received a bigger cheer than the Irish" as the second half commenced. Krings had the ball in the Irish net again on 50 minutes, but he was adjudged to have it handled it home.

The introduction of Niall Quinn did bring the home crowd to life somewhat and it was he who set up Paul McGrath to blast home the winner on 74 minutes. 

"A drastically disappointing display" was how the Indo summed it all up. Roby Landers, one of Luxembourg's two professionals on view, was named Man of the Match.

The Irish Independent headline summed up the mood

And then the post-mortem.

Charlton told the waiting media that "we winkled a result". More bullishly, he added: "You guys [the media] put our lads under a hell of a lot of pressure talking about scoring six. You can't do that against a side as organised as these." 

Charlton also had a go at the Irish supporters for booing the players off the pitch and for singing "What a load of rubbish". Before storming out of the press conference, he said: "Our lads had run their b******s off, they played their hearts out. Anyone who thinks it was a bad game of football must be mad. It was a cracking game of football from both sides."  

The scribes weren't having any of this, with Vincent Hogan opining that we are now "back among the minnows". Karl McGinty in the Evening Herald wrote: "Last night's game at Lansdowne was woeful.... a nightmarish view of British [and Irish football] at its sweaty and unimaginative worst. Ireland's sledgehammer tactics are too easily stifled. There's too much effort and anxiety... too little thought and control... too many clockwork soldiers."

Charlie Stuart's match report in The Irish Press led with: "Ireland said a sad farewell to their outside chances of playing in next summer's European Championship finals in West Germany when they scrambled to an untidy victory over the part-timers of little Luxembourg."

Stuart's words had currency at the time, though a much improved performance in the win over Bulgaria and a helping hand from the Scots, would steer Charlton's side on an altogether different course, where qualifying for major tournaments deflected much criticism of the playing style. 

And so 34 years on and Luxembourg are back in town for another competitive game. Stephen Kenny is hoping to mould a team that plays with adventure and no little style. He is also looking for his first win as Ireland boss, an upturn in his fortunes. Better days did lie ahead after that footballing nadir in the autumn of '87.

A win against the Grand Duchy in the spring of 2021 may be the result to kickstart more reasons to be cheerful.

Follow Republic of Ireland v Luxembourg via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 from 7pm.