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Euro 2016 profile: Republic of Ireland can make impact

Republic of Ireland will hope to emulate their Germany result against other top nations at Euro 2016.

Shane-Long

We cast an eye over the Republic of Ireland and their Euro 2016 aspirations in the betting build-up to the tournament.

We’re profiling all 24 teams at the Euro 2016 finals in France, so punters are in the know when it comes to the sides on show this summer.

Next up are the Republic of Ireland, a team who battled their way to the tournament with gritty displays against world champions Germany and hard-fought two-legged play-off results against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The organised Boys in Green are a top market price of 13/8 with bet365 to progress from Group E, which features all of Belgium, Sweden and Italy, though Martin O’Neill’s men have proven they can overcome the big guns.

History at the Euros: Ireland did not qualify for a European Championship until the 1988 edition in Germany and, following that, it wasn’t until 2012 when Giovanni Trapattoni guided the Emerald Isle to Poland and Ukraine that they featured again.

At both tournaments, the Irish exited at the group stage, something they will look to overturn this time around in France, after a more promising qualifying campaign.

Head coach: O’Neill was capped 64 times for Northern Ireland as a player and captained his country at the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

The Derry-born coach previously guided Leicester City to two League Cup crowns, but is regarded most for his trophy-laden Celtic days, winning three Scottish Premiership titles as well as reaching the 2003 UEFA Cup final. He later took charge of Aston Villa and Sunderland in the Premier League before Ireland came calling.

Key player: Norwich wideman Robbie Brady has gone from makeshift left back to reliable winger for his country, with his crucial away strike past Bosnia and Herzegovina in the first leg of their play-off clash showcasing his importance.

The Premier League attacker was a constant feature of O’Neill’s starting XI when fully fit, being a vital figure in the famous 1-0 win over Germany in Dublin, and his ability from set-pieces should be key to any success on French soil.

Rising star: Derby County midfielder Jeff Hendrick’s displays throughout qualifying have seen him become regarded as his country’s next big thing.

The 24-year-old anchorman produced a moment of brilliance in a crucial tie against Georgia, dancing past the opposition defence to perfectly set-up Jonathan Walters to net the game’s only goal. Euro 2016 could witness Hendrick shine, after becoming O’Neill’s go-to man in the central areas, as he played the full 90 minutes of Ireland’s final five Group D games plus both play-off encounters.

Wildcard: Wes Hoolahan began the season in spectacular form for Norwich, but a recent decline and some niggling injuries have somewhat halted him. Although, the Dubliner’s true talents should shine through this summer, with his attacking abilities a key factor for Ireland’s hopes (12/1 with Betfred to win Group E).

Confirmed Republic of Ireland Euro 2016 fixtures

All kick-offs are British Summer Time (BST)

Monday, June 13: Group E, Republic of Ireland v Sweden (17:00); Stade de France, Paris, BBC

Saturday, June 18: Group E, Belgium v Republic of Ireland (14:00); Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, ITV

Wednesday, June 22: Group E, Italy v Republic of Ireland (20:00); Stade Pierre Mauroy, ITV

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