The tournament itself was shared by England and Northern Ireland after weak performances by Scotland and Wales in their games. While Scotland and Ireland played out a 1–1 draw in their opener, England began well, beating the Welsh 4–0 in Cardiff. The second round of matches however changed the tournament's direction as Ireland beat England in London in a surprising overturn of form. The match was very close, the Irish only winning 3–2, one of the English goals coming from Duncan Edwards. Scotland and Wales meanwhile were both unable to take advantage of England's discomfort, drawing 1–1. Before the final matches, the season was permanently disfigured by the Munich disaster. Wales and Northern Ireland again struggled to a 1–1 draw, denying the Irish a rare undisputed title while England, with a team containing several young and inexperienced players, achieved an impressive 4–0 victory over the Scots in Glasgow to take their share of the tournament.
The competition was also intended to have been a good indicator of form going into the 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden, which all four Home Nations had reached through separate qualifying groups. The disaster however made the tournament a poor indicator and so it proved, England and Scotland unable to progress from the group stage, England still suffering from the loss of so many key players. Wales and Northern Ireland progressed from their groups in impressive form but were unable to sustain their momentum, Wales going down to a Pelé goal in a hard fought match to eventual winners Brazil, while the Irish lost 4–0 in the Quarter-Final to the France of Just Fontaine.