Planes, trains and automobiles are packed with Irish fans on their way to Poland ahead of Ireland’s first Euro 2012 game against Croatia on Sunday evening in the Municipal Stadium in Poznan, kick off is at 7.45pm.
This will be Ireland’s first game at a European Championship since Euro ‘88 and first appearance at any major tournament since World Cup 2002.
Thousands of Irish fans have defied the economic times to make the trip to eastern Europe reviving memories of the glorious odyssey of 1988.
Injury concerns from the team’s Polish base seem to be clearing for the boys in green with Marco Tardelli giving goalkeeper Shay Given the all clear to start against Croatia.
The Donegal man has been hampered by knee and calf problems in recent weeks but goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly was quoted as saying ‘wild horses wouldn’t keep him off the pitch on Sunday’.
The boys in green follow the Croatia game with matches against football super powers Spain on the 14th of this month in Gdansk and Italy on the 18th back in Poznan.
In six previous meetings between the two countries, Ireland have only lost to Croatia once, in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2000.
Fulham’s Stephen Kelly reckons Ireland have to get at least a point from the opening game in order to progress to the quarter finals and points to the country’s long competitive unbeaten streak of almost two years as a reason for the national side to go into the Euros with a high level of confidence.
Those sentiments are echoed by team mate Glenn Whelan who says that manager Giovanni Trapattoni has made Ireland very hard to beat in recent years.
Jonathan Walters, Stephen Kelly and Glenn Whelan were speaking at the launch of the latest Adidas Predator boot.