Last night was about the result in football terms with a win securing a play-off spot for next year’s FIFA World Cup. If the next steps can be navigated and a first major tournament participation secured, that will be an enduring legacy for this group of players and manager Vera Pauw, but being there through this campaign it is far from the only one.

Below we pick through the process that will now unfold, starting with the Play-Off draw next Friday, but first let us take some time to reflect not on the players but the fans.

When children are happy they bounce. A lot. We sat last night behind the teams that had made up the guard of honour that paraded before the game and welcomed the two teams onto the pitch. When they made it back to their proud parents in the west Stand there was a lot of bouncing.

They were wearing their Ireland shirts, their glitter and facepaint and rescuing their homemade banners and posters to hold up to the players.

Explaining the intricacies of the qualification process would have been too much like their first day back at school so instead, it was more about the shrieks of delight when Ireland were on the ball.

One of the biggest cheers was for Jamie Finn who when coming over to take a throw-in early in the second half, saw the girls waving and waved back with a smile. This team has a special bond with the fans.

They more or less held their places in the seats even through the goal from the outstanding Lily Agg but as the clock ticked through 60 minutes they began to gather, like droplets of green mercury towards the front of the stand.

This is a crew that knows the players will celebrate not only on their own, but very much with them at the end of the game, and they did not want to miss a beat of that.

The stewards on the pitch caught the infection of the smiles and the excitement and chatted away with them.

There was tension for the adults who understood the importance of every Courtney Brosnan gathering of the ball and every Louise Quinn header to clear the lines, but for the youngsters, there was just the glamour of the floodlights and the wonder of seeing players they could aspire to be playing for Ireland.

The legacy for them will be going back to their clubs or joining one for the first time, and seeing football as a game for them, a game for fun, a game for life. It is a privilege to be there to see that level of excitement for something that will be so good for them in so many ways.

The Technicalities

But now, as they say in the ads, for the technical bit.

The nine teams who finish as runners-up in the European qualification groups will now play for three potential spots.

The Republic of Ireland and Scotland are the only two confirmed for certain with the remainder to be decided as the groups finish out over the coming days.

Three teams go straight to the second play-off round based on those who have the best record against the teams that came first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups.

Currently, the other second places are held by Iceland, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Switzerland, Serbia and Wales. It’s possible they could be replaced by Italy, Portugal or even the Netherlands. It will not be easy.

The six teams to play in the first round will go into a single bowl next Friday and be drawn, without any seeding to play in a single leg playoff game with extra time and penalties if needed. The first team drawn in each pair will get home advantage.

The three winners and the three winners of the first round will be drawn out on the same day to determine the second round of the playoffs. Again there will be no seeding and the first team drawn will have home advantage.

The two winners with the best record from their groups will go straight to the World Cup, the third will go to a final intercontinental playoff tournament next February in New Zealand from which three teams will emerge from ten.

The first round games will be played on October 6th and the second round on October 11th.

We will know then by lunchtime next Friday what the timetable will be, and where the drama will be played out.

It is most likely that if a home draw is secured it will be played again at tallaght Stadium. Why break the winning bond that has got us this far.

Last night’s attendance was 6,952, with 1,000 tickets that has been bought not being used, which is disappointing. Nonetheless it was a record attendance for a Women’s football game in this country and it will be the hottest ticket of the autumn should the draw play out kindly.

The girls (and boys) who were there last night may be a little tired in school this morning, but their dreams will carry them through to lunchtime, the weekend, and way, way beyond.