Martin O’Neill takes charge of the Irish side for a second time for the visit to Poznan and a friendly game with Poland. The teams have previously met on 24 occasions, the second of which resulted in President Hyde being removed as a patron of the GAA.
Statistics released this week show Ireland with the fourth highest representation of footballers in the Premier League and, with the new season just starting, international boss Giovanni Trapattoni was able to name ten top flight players in his team to face Wales. This time a year ago, however, his squad was reeling from a disastrous European Championship. The manager has stuck to his word and overhauled the playing staff but for the team that lined out against Italy last summer, much has changed in just 12 months.
Broadcast a year ago today, this Sky Sports News report from Poznan is still one of the best. Irish fans on top form on our return to the European Championships. “The Irish are outnumbering the Croatians; they’re probably outnumbering the Poles and it’s their own country.”
If report-cards were being handed out for the Irish players coming home from Euro 2012, there’d be a few large F’s and plenty of black marks against names. Former star pupil Shay Given also seemed to suffer from the class clowns around him.
It looks like the people of Poznan didn’t want to let us go judging by these pictures from the Fanzone in the city this week. They’ve even adopted the anthems of the Green Army. It seems Poland and Ireland have fallen in love with each other.
Back to reality. As Euro 2012 builds to a climax, the last camper-van has long since pulled out of Poland but the Irish have left a lasting impression. The whole world saw the pictures from Gdansk and the word repeated again and again from fans around the globe was ‘respect.’ How shameful then, that Irish supporters should encounter such a lack of it at home.
Peter Schmeichel won the European Championship with unfancied Denmark in 1992. The Great Dane says when facing the best players, it’s important to understand that you belong there.
Italy’s training camp in Coverciano.
Poland’s official Euro 2012 song is…eh…different. It’s called Koko Koko Euro Spoko…well it’s no Jedward.
We hope the Green Army have suspension in those campervans. This footage of some roads in Poland will have Sudo Cream manufacturers rubbing their hands with glee. Still, anyone making the trip from Cavan to Euro 2012 should feel right at home. Ouch.