Robbie refuses to dwell on Ireland’s Euro 2012 nightmare

Niall Kelly
Robbie refuses to dwell on Ireland’s Euro 2012 nightmare
Robbie refuses to dwell on Ireland’s Euro 2012 nightmare

It was one of Irish football’s darkest moments.

Tonight, under new management, Ireland return to the scene of their Euro 2012 heartache.

Poznan’s Municipal Stadium was where they crumbled inside three minutes against Croatia.

Back in the same spot eight days later, Italy landed the final blow of a humiliating campaign and ensured that Giovanni Trapattoni’s side were the first country to be sent home.

“When I walked through that door, I remember this room here,” captain Robbie Keane said ahead of tonight’s friendly against Poland (kick-off 7.45pm Irish time).

“[They're] obviously not great memories but that’s gone now. It’s the past.”

The performance and result against Latvia on Friday night have given Ireland — and their supporters — a reason to hope again.

It drew a line in the sand after a failed World Cup qualification campaign and got the Martin O’Neill era off to winning start.

Keane said: “We look forward now to playing against a Polish team that’s going to be a different test from Latvia. But it’s certainly a game the players are looking forward to.

It clearly is a new era. The memories for all the players involved in the Euros aren’t good but I mean we can’t dwell too much on what’s happened in the past.

It’s a new start for everybody with the new management team that’s come in so I think everybody is just looking forward.

Keane: trained last night but will not be in O’Neill’s starting XI (INPHO/Donall Farmer)

An ongoing Achilles’ problem means Keane will not start in Poznan tonight. John O’Shea is the man most likely to replace him as captain — if he starts, that is.

Seventeen players got a run-out against Latvia and O’Neill has said he will shuffle the pack to get a look at the rest.

David Forde has already been told that he will start in goal while Shane Long, Jon Walters, Anthony Stokes and Kevin Doyle will all hope to get their chance up front.

“The whole nation has been very, very happy and that’s what we want as players,” Keane said.

“Ultimately it’s up to us on the field to get wins and keep trying to create that buzz around Ireland. Hopefully we can continue that for a good while.”

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