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Euro 2012 Finals - Irish Preparations & Build-up
Members of the Irish Euro 2012 squad began joining up with the training camp in Malahide Co. Dublin on Thursday 17 May 2012. The remaining squad members joined up over the next few days with Ireland captain Robbie Keane the last to join Giovanni Trapattoni's squad when he arrived into Dublin from the United States on Monday 21 May. The striker missed LA Galaxys game that weekend due to a hamstring injury but stayed on to watch it.
Preparations for Ireland's last home match, against Bosnia Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium, on Saturday 26 May were disrupted by a series of injury scares and concerns about the fitness of some senior players that would expect to start in the first Euro finals match against Croatia. The walking wounded included goalkeeper Shay Given, and defenders Richard Dunne, John O'Shea, and Sean St Ledger. Standby defender Paul McShane was called into the training camp by the Irish manager, Trapattoni.
Shay Given flew to London to see a specialist however he was given a clean bill of health. Assistant Manager Marco Tardelli remained confident that all squad members would be fully fit for the final warm-up match against Hungary in Budapest on 4 June.
Irish Euro 2012 Squad Daily Routine
Each day at 9:30am the players arrived down from their rooms in the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links and assembled for a light breakfast. A prominent notice board outlined the schedule for the day. An hour later the squad and management head to Gannon Park in Malahide for a half hour pre-training strength and conditioning session in the gym. Following this they walk to the training pitch where fitness coach Fausto Rossi put the players through a warm-up routine. Without a ball in sight the players that were not nursing injuries went through a number of running drills.
After some routine media work the squad reassembled in the Portmarnock hotel for a light buffet lunch. After lunch the players have some time in their rooms or hang around in the hotel. At 3:30pm the afternoon training session began in Malahide. This was all ball-work ending in a practice match.
After this it was back to the hotel to clean up ahead of evening dinner. Squad chef, David Steele from the Clarion Hotel at Dublin Airport provided a buffet meal rotating main dishes across beef, chicken, lamb, and fish, plus a variety of pasta, potatoes and vegetables.
Manager spent significant portions of his time analysing DVDs of the opposition that technical analyst Brian McCarthy has compiled. To avoid boredom the routine was varied with the players allowed play golf one afternoon, a trip to the cinema one evening, a meal out one evening, and some players (James McClean, David Forde and Keith Fahey) took in a League of Ireland match between Bohemians and Derry City. Players were under a curfew if they left the hotel however family members could visit the players in the hotel.
Ireland V Bosnia Herzegovina - Aviva Stadium 26 May 2012
The Republic of Ireland got an almost ideal send-off from home with a 1-0 win at the Aviva Stadium over Bosnia Herzegovina. Second half substitute Shane Long got the decisive goal with a far post header from an Aiden McGeady cross. Most of the 37, 100 attendance were particularly interested to see how James McClean would perform in his first start in a Republic of Ireland shirt.
They weren't disappointed as the newcomer has some impressive moments, particularly in the first half. McGeady, perhaps the player most under threat by the arrival of McClean, came on in the second half and signalled his clear intent that he would not make way without a fight. He hit the Bosnian post with his first touch of the match and his pinpoint cross created Long's goal. Despite only being on the pitch for 45 minutes McGeady won the man-of-the-match award.
Overall it was a good performance
by the Irish in glorious sunshine and set the squad members up nicely
for their Euro odyssey.
Republic of Ireland Team: Keiren Westwood (Sunderland), Paul McShane (Hull City), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Darren O'Dea (Celtic), Stephen Ward (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Damien Duff (Fulham), Darron Gibson (Everton), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), James McClean (Sunderland), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Kevin Doyle (Wolverhampton Wanderers). Subs: Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow) for Duff 46; Keith Andrews (WBA) for Whelan 46; Jon Walters (Stoke City) for Doyle 63; Shane Long (WBA) for Keane 63; Sean St Ledger (Leicester City) for Dunne 71; Stepehn Kelly (Fulham) for McShane 78
Bosnia Herzegovina Team: A Begovic, M Mujdza, B Pandza, S Jahic, H Medunjanin, E Rahimic, V Ibisevic, M Pjanic, Z Misimovic, S Lulic, E Dzeko. Subs: M Stevanovic for Rahmic 46; D Vrancic for Medunjanin 46; Zahirovic for Mujdza 55; S Vranjes for Ibisevic 70; M Alispahic for Misimovic 82
Attendance: 37,100 Referee: N Haenni - Switzerland
Irish Squad Depart for Training Camp in Italy
Following the victory over Bosnia Herzegovina Giovanni Trapattoni, his backroom team, medical staff, and the players departed Dublin on the Sunday morning (27 May) on a private jet to Italy. The jet touched down around lunchtime in Tuscany where the Irish Euro 2012 squad settled into their training camp at Montecatini.
Earthquakes, Match Fixing and Betrayal in Italy
On Tuesday (29 May 2012) a powerful earthquake in northern Italy left at least 16 people dead, striking after another deadly earthquake in the same region of Italy earlier that month. Many others were injured in the 5.8-magnitude quake with the epicentre in the Emilia-Romagna region between the cities of Modena and Ferrara. Minor tremors were felt in the Irish squad hotel however preparations for the Euro 2012 were unaffected.
Italian soccer was also rocked by accusations of match fixing at the highest levels of Italian football. Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni expressed his sadness at the arrests in the Italian Euro 2012 training camp by police investigating the match fixing scandal. Captain of Lazio, Stefano Mauri and ex-Genoa midfielder Omar Milanetto were amongst a total of 14 people that were questioned by Italian police. Juventus coach Antonio Conte and international defender Domenico Criscito were also amongst those questioned. Criscito was omitted from the Italian Euro 2012 squad. Any schadenfreude that Irish fans may have felt was quickly erased when it was pointed out that the last time an Italian squad was hit by a similar scandal, at the 2006 World Cup finals, they went on to win the tournament.
The reverberations from Trapattoni's decision to include Paul McShane at the expense of Kevin Foley rumbled on as Foley expressed his sense of betrayal by the decision. Its hard to take, I feel sort of betrayed and I said that to him. I dont want to go into too much detail. I just feel betrayed. I have to look forward and go back to see my family and that's it." Addressing his manager's assertion that it was concerns about Foley's fitness that swung the decision against the player, Foley stated that he wanted to prove a point by playing in the friendly against a Tuscan selection on Tuesday 29th May 2012. "Because from what I understood I could have trained last week, Thursday, Friday and been involved in the game. He [Trapattoni] said there was no rush and we will wait to train in Italy. So I felt great for two days in Italy and then all of a sudden he pulls me this morning and says: you are not in the squad and that is hard to take."
Republic of Ireland V Tuscan XI - Montecatini 29 May 2012
Ireland played against a Tuscan selection of players drawn from Serie C teams in a Euro 2012 warm up match. Ireland won the match 5-0 with two goals from Robbie Keane and one from Simon Cox before the half-time break and one each from Shane Long and Jonathan Walters after it. Kevin Foley created the last goal five minutes from time when his curling free was parried into the path of Walters. Result: Tuscan Selection 0 - 5 Ireland
Tuscan Selection: Gaffino; Di Stefano, Calanchi, Settepassi, Lotti; Cortese, Cerri, Ceciarini; Pieroni; Colombo, Taddeucci.
Republic of Ireland: K.Westwood (Sunderland); P.McShane (Hull City), R.Dunne (Aston Villa), S.St Ledger (Leicester City), S.Kelly (Fulham); S.Hunt (Wolves), P.Green (Derby County), K.Andrews (West Brom), J.McClean (Sunderland); S.Cox (West Brom), R.Keane (LA Galaxy). Subs: K.Foley (Wolves) for Dunne, S.Long (West Brom) for McClean, J.Walters (Stoke City) for Keane, D.Forde (Millwall) for Westwood (all half-time), D.Gibson (Everton) for Andrews S.Ward (Wolves) for St Ledger.
Referee: Mico Mangiolandi (Pistoia)
Ireland left the training facilities at the Stadio Communale Alberto Bernedetti, home of Serie D club, Unione Sportiva Borgo a Buggiano 1920, in Montecatini on Saturday 2nd and headed for Budapest for the friendly match against Hungary.
Republic of Ireland V Hungary - Budapest 5 June 2012
Ireland played Hungary on 5th June 2012 for just the fifth time and in the first ever friendly between the two teams. It was the last warm-up match for the Irish squad ahead of the first match at Euro 2012 against Croatia. Amid increasing optimism amongst the squad and fans about Ireland's prospects at the finals in Poland, Trapattoni's men took to field at the Puskas Stadium in Budapest in a downpour. Although the Irish rode their luck at times they emerged unbeaten and with another clean sheet. Both teams have their chances and perhaps a draw was a fair result. The main plus from the exercise was that both Shay Given and John O'Shea displayed their fitness to play. Both players had been injury concerns in the build up to the Euro finals. Result: Hungary 0 - 0 Ireland
Hungary: A Bogdan (Bolton Wanderers); Varga (Debrecen), Z Korcsmar (Brann), Meszaros (Debrecen), Halmosi (Szombathely); Koman (Monaco), A Pinter (Real Zaragoza); Gyurcso (Videoton), P Szakaly (Debrecen), B Dzsudzsak (Dinamo Moscow); A Szalai (Mainz). Subs: V Vanczak (Sion) for Pinter (ht), Szabics (Sturm Graz) for Szakaly (66 mins), Kadar (Unattached) for Halmosi (70 mins), Nemeth (Waalwijk) for Szalai (79 mins), T Koltai (Gyor) for Gyurcso (87 mins).
Republic of Ireland Team: Shay Given (Aston Villa); John OShea (Sunderland), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Sean St Ledger (Leicester City), Stephen Ward (Wolves); Damien Duff (Fulham), Keith Andrews (West Brom), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow); Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy). Subs: Keiren Westwood (Sunderland) and Jon Walters (Stoke City) for Given and Doyle (half-time), Simon Cox (West Brom) for Keane (61 mins), Stephen Hunt (Wolves) for Duff (63 mins), Darron Gibson (Everton) for Andrews (66 mins), Paul Green (Derby County) for Whelan (85 mins).
Referee: K Hansen (Denmark).
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