Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Republic ready for Euros

"We'll shake a few people up next summer, that's for sure,"

Those were the words of Shay Given directed towards a jubilant Irish crowd, who bedecked in green, had crammed into a joyous Aviva Stadium.

The scoreboard read Republic of Ireland 1 Estonia 1, but thanks to their magnificent efforts in Tallinn on Friday, Giovanni Trapattoni’s men knew the game in Dublin on Tuesday was merely a 90 minute party, barring an almost unprecedented soccer betting defying comeback from the Estonians.

Their 4-0 first leg win, 5-1 on aggregate, means that after a decade of looking on from a far, tuning in on TV or even watching Live Football Online , the Irish can pack their passports and travel to a major tournament.

When the Republic makes major tournaments they more than hold their own. In 2002 they pushed Spain all the way in the last 16 before crashing out agonisingly on penalties. In 1994 they famously beat Italy to reach the knock-out stages while in 1990 they reached the quarter-finals.

Their only European Championship experience has been in 1988 when they went out at the group stage – though they did beat England 1-0 at that tournament. The Three Lions could be one of their opponents in Poland and the Ukraine, though the nightmarish scenario of being in the same group as Spain, Germany and Portugal is also a possibility.

But given it will have been ten years since the last adventure, I doubt the Irish fans will care who they plays as they will feel they can give anyone game – and I think other sides will be keen to avoid them when the draw is made early next month.

Speaking after the game Trapattoni said: "The players deserve to have a party and to drink beer.

"But maybe its better that I don't see it. Greece won Euro 2004. With this group of players, why not? We have good options. It's not a dream."

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