Republic of Ireland's Jon Walters says 'Whole team on the pitch are heroes'

Two-goal hero Jonathan Walters paid tribute to his fellow players after the Republic of Ireland qualified for Euro 2016 with a 2-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Dublin to secure a 3-1 aggregate play-off victory.

Walters scored a first-half penalty and put the seal on qualification with a volley after the break and he was quick to praise the team effort.

The Stoke striker told Sky Sports 1: "The whole team on the pitch are heroes. We got there in the end, we did it the hard way, but we got there.

"You've got to take it in because these moments don't come round often in a career."

Asked about the contribution of manager Martin O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane, Walters said: "They've been excellent through the whole campaign."

Defender Richard Keogh said: "It's an unbelievable feeling. We played really well. We got the [first] goal and we defended really well.

"For me to play for my country means the world to me. I've stepped up to the plate. I'm going to enjoy it."

O'Neill said the decision to bring Roy Keane in as his assistant had more than paid off.

"Bringing Roy Keane in is as good a decision as I've made in quite some time," said O'Neill. "He's been absolutely enormous for us. He's not taking too many of the accolades, but he's been fantastic for us, for myself, the backroom staff and the players."

O'Neill admitted qualification was something he didn't allow himself to even imagine.

"I never once dared to dream about getting to France, never once because of the group that we were involved in, so that was special. The night was special as well.

"I thought the Germany night last month was just wonderful, but I think it was eclipsed tonight. The atmosphere was fantastic. These are the nights that you live for.

"That moment when the referee blows the whistle and you are in France, it is just very, very special, very special indeed.

"It's more special because it means so much to a lot of people, naturally the players first and foremost, but to the nation as a whole, the crowd that we will bring to France - and they have graced other tournaments when we have qualified - and it is really special.

"I was speaking to Richard Keogh and they are just indescribable feelings. It's great for some of the lads who have not made it [before] - Seamus Coleman, who is a top-class player, an absolutely top-class player - and for some of the older members, who are roughly the same age as myself.

"It certainly will be the last tournament that they are involved in, so I am just pleased for everyone."

O'Neill also praised the players who had made it to Euro 2016.

"I couldn't be more proud, they've been absolutely fantastic right from the start," he added. "The esteem I hold these players in it couldn't be higher.

"This is a special night. It is very, very special, it can't be taken away from us. "When I look back I'll think this is a very, very proud moment."

Midfielder Robbie Brady provided the free kick which led to Walters' second goal, his delivery cleared by a defender only as far as the Stoke striker at the far post.

"It's the type of thing you grow up dreaming about. Everyone involved was excellent and we did everything we needed to and now we're off to France," Brady said. "I'm so proud of everyone involved. When things got tough I'm sure everyone involved has been through it before and we stuck together."

Darren Randolph has not been first-choice goalkeeper throughout the qualifying campaign, but he said he would savour the moment after helping his country make it to France.

"It's unbelievable. We're through and that's all that matters," he said.

Bosnia boss Mehmed Bazdarevic was understandably disappointed by the outcome, and made his feelings over the penalty decision abundantly clear.

He said: "I don't want to speak too much about that because it could have consequences, but the referee had a terrible night. He was the worst on the pitch.

"First of all, it's very hard to speak about this because because we are aware of what we have lost in these two matches.

"The team did very well and had more opportunities. We tried to answer the Irish players with the correct mind of an aggressive game and we did our best.

"I'm very disappointed about the game. We lost and unfortunately, it's very hard for me to speak about it. I feel sorry for the supporters that we are not going to France."