The official song for Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign was “The Rocky Road to Poland”, and the lyrics which fans sang with such hope in their hearts were “You’ll never beat the Irish!”
Of course, you can beat the Irish, in fact, each one of the three teams they faced before their elimination from the tournament defeated Giovanni Trapattoni’s men by at least two goals. This isn’t evidence for Ireland being a particularly poor squad at the time, as they were rather unfortunate to get matched in a group alongside Croatia, Italy and Spain.
Then came Euro 2016, which proved to be far more enjoyable for the Irish as they qualified for the Last 16 by finishing the group stages with the most points of any other third placed side in the competition, though the hosts France knocked Martin O’Neill’s side out thanks to a brace from Antoine Griezmann after Robbie Brady had given Ireland the lead within two minutes.
Mick McCarthy is now at the helm of this somewhat new-look set of players. The names are perhaps not as recognisable as those who came before but there will be no questioning their heart, nor the fans, as they will all be determined to take the spirit and adoration from the fans and take everyone on a journey that nobody will forget.