/ Euro 2012

RTÉ's Dave Kelly gives us his perspective from the European Championships

Updated: Monday, 04 Jun 2012 15:26 | Comments

Davy Kelly will be with the team every step of the way
Davy Kelly will be with the team every step of the way

After what will hopefully be an injury-free 90 minutes in Budapest, the Republic of Ireland squad will finally arrive on Polish soil early on Tuesday morning.

It's about a 20-minute journey from Gdansk Airport to their base in Sopot.

We arrived ourselves on Sunday afternoon, and from a personal point of view the trip got off to an encouraging start.

For the first time in my life my bag was the first out at the airport baggage carousel. I'm hoping the rest of our stay in Poland will be just as smooth.

That may be asking a bit much as I was perhaps a little fortunate not to have been asked to find another taxi to our hotel after our driver had to make an unscheduled u-turn all because of yours truly.

A vital piece of documentation relating to the local taxi regulator blew away when this reporter rolled down the rear window for some air.

Luckily the driver accepted my apology and we were soon back on track.

The town of Sopot lies between two larger cities, Gdynia, where the squad will train, and Gdansk, the venue for the second group C game against Spain on 14 June.

With the Irish media pack not due into the town until Tuesday I was more than a little surprised to see a familiar face in the town when out for a stroll on Sunday evening. Journalist Garry Doyle is covering Euro 2012 for UEFA and has been here since Wednesday.

There are plenty of cafés and restaurants to keep the Irish players occupied when they get some down time. The local pier is somewhat of a tourist attraction and the beach is just a few minutes walk from the team hotel.

It is a little cooler than I expected though, noticeably so last night, which will be match time in Poznan next Sunday.

The sun-tan lotion I packed at the last minute won't be needed if this is a taste of what's to come.

One certainty ahead of the tournament is that this group of players have been given plenty of time to bond.It was Thursday 17 May when they began to assemble in Dublin.

It can't have been easy to have been around the camp following the Kevin Foley/Paul McShane selection issue and the players undoubtedly would have sympatised with Foley, who now seems unlikely to make himself available in the future for Giovanni Trapattoni.

On the morning of their flight to Italy for the Montecatini training camp Trapattoni was at his animated best when asked if there were any disadvantages in having the players together for such a long time.

He felt that this was a somewhat uniquely Irish question. Not for the first time he spoke of any perceived sacrifice the players make as paling into insignificane when compared to 'a man working in a hole on the road for ten hours a day'.

The team selection for the final warm-up game with Hungary is along the expected lines. It's particularly encouraging to see injury concerns Shay Given and John O' Shea included.

Barring any further concerns in that regard, the same 11 look certain to start against Croatia.

Not surprisingly Trapattoni doesn't feel he is showing his hand a little early to Slaven Bilic.

The Republic of Ireland come to this tourament with one of the most settled team formations of the 16 qualifiers. As Trapattoni put it, 'they know all about us, we know all about them'.

We are travelling up to Gdansk on Monday for a look at the match stadium for the Spanish game. We'll also be checking out the fan zone area in the city where those Irish supporters without a ticket for the game will be sure to gather.

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use