I cogged this off a poster called sid waddell on a rival forum:
Martin O’Neill is unfortunately wrong when he says it’s still in the team’s hands. It isn’t.
The Irish are currently on 10 points in the second place league with a goal difference of just +1.
Even with two wins, leaving them on 13 points in the second place league with a worst case goal difference of +2, I believe the odds are against them getting a play-off.
I’ll go through the different groups and the permutations in order of likelihood of one of them producing an inferior second placed team, but all of the following are odds against, most of them strongly so.
Bosnia play Belgium at home next, while Greece go to Cyprus next, in their final match against another top 5 team.
The Irish need Bosnia to lose or at least not win, and Greece to drop points.
If Greece win, they would go to 13 points in the second place league with a goal difference of at least +4, and it’ll mean that whoever finishes second in Group H will have a minimum of 13 points.
Slovakia’s trip to Scotland in the next fixture is their final match against top 5 opposition. The Irish need the Scots to win this as that would leave Slovakia on 12 points.
But then Scotland would need to fail to win in Slovenia and let Slovakia overtake them again to get second in the group, as a win for the Scots there would bring them to a second place finish on 14 points and out of the reach of the Irish.
Denmark and Montenegro are both on 16 overall points in the group behind leaders Poland. Both are on 10 points in the second place league.
Montenegro play Denmark in the next fixture. That would need to be a draw, bringing both onto 11 points.
The last fixtures are Poland v Montenegro and Denmark v Romania.
Both Monetengro and Denmark would need to fail to win, leaving the second place team on a maximum 12 points in the second place league.
All of the following would have to happen:
Turkey beat Iceland.
Turkey then fail to win in Finland in the final match.
Ukraine fail to beat Croatia.
That would put Iceland in second place on 13 points and a best case goal difference of +2, but with a superior number of goals scored to the Irish.
If Turkey beat Iceland by one goal and the other two things happen, a two goal victory against Wales would put the Irish into a play-off.
If Turkey beat Iceland by two goals and the other two things happen, a one goal victory would be sufficient for the Irish.
Ireland (IFA) lose to both Germany and Norway by a combined six goals over the two matches. A one goal win in Cardiff would then be enough for Eire.
One final Hail Mary scenario:
All the following happen
i) Bosnia fail to beat both Belgium and Estonia, or else lose to Belgium by 2 goals more than they beat Estonia, leaving them on a maximum 10 points in the first case and 11 with best case 0 goal difference in the second case.
ii) Greece lose to Cyprus, leaving them on 10.
iii) Wales fail to win in Georgia.
iv) Eire beat Moldova.
v)A draw in the final match in Cardiff then gets the Irish a play-off.