Group C: Republic of Ireland – Oh Yeah, Lucky As Anything

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The Back of the Net squad's Euro 2012 previews continue, with him-off-the-telly Mark Watson studying the Republic of Ireland

The Irish were popular qualifiers for Euro 2012, having only missed out on a spot in the previous World Cup at the play-off stage by dint of a French goal which experts believe to have been the most illegal of all time.

TV replays showed that as Thierry Henry crossed for William Gallas he handled the ball between eight and 10 times, and was also in an offside position, carrying a handgun without the appropriate paperwork, travelling under a false passport and had got his child into a good school with the old ‘registering the grandmother’s address’ trick. An enquiry by the FAI showed that the ‘Luck Of the Irish’ had expired in 2002 and not been renewed because of a clerical error.

Tournament Pedigree
Between 1988 – when Jack Charlton led them to their first tournament – and 2002, the Irish were regulars at major tournaments and enjoyed massive favouritism from commentators, who made incessant reference to "Guinness flowing back home" and used the adjective "plucky" to describe Ireland’s distinctive long-ball football, after producers put an embargo on the alternative phrase "unwatchably boring and primitive".

The speed record for Irish clichés in a match commentary is 45 seconds during a USA 94 group game, when Clive Tyldesley predicted that "Irish eyes will be smiling tonight" after John Aldridge forced a throw-in midway inside Mexico’s half.

Euro 2012 Chances
Giovanni Trapattoni leads the new crop of Irish talent to Euro 2012, becoming the oldest manager ever in the finals of the competition and, at 110, the third oldest man currently living. The veteran boss still reveals his team selection by town crier and, considered too old by doctors to attend the matches, finds out his side’s results in the following day’s newspapers. "Il Trap" has assembled the strongest Irish squad since Charlton’s reign, despite being forced by FIFA rule changes to draw upon Irish players.

Did You Know?
The film adaptation of Angela’s Ashes, which depicts the struggles of a Limerick family during the 1930s and 40s, was so boring that even director Alan Parker was unable to watch key scenes during the filming, and according to sources resorted to "setting up a fixed camera and saying things like 'OK, the kid has typhoid and holes in his shoes, you don’t have a proper toilet, off you go, I’ll see you in an hour'.’’

More from Back of the Net
Group A: Poland • Russia • Greece • Czech Republic
Group B: Netherlands
• Germany • Portugal • Denmark
Group C: Spain • Italy • Croatia • Republic of Ireland
Group D: Ukraine • England • France • Sweden