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Ireland Euro 2012 warm-up fixtures confirmed

Updated: Wednesday, 25 Jan 2012 10:38

Ireland captain Robbie Keane after Ireland's play-off victory over Estonia
Ireland captain Robbie Keane after Ireland's play-off victory over Estonia

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by Brendan Cole

The Republic of Ireland will play Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary in the warm-up phase before Euro 2012, FAI Chief Executive John Delaney has confirmed.

Ireland will face Bosnia and Herzegovina at Aviva Stadium on 26 May before departing for a week of training at Montecatini near Florence. That period could feature a match against a local team to give fringe players a chance to get some game time before the tournament.

The team will then travel to Hungary for a match in Budapest on 4 June. Ireland's first fixture in Euro 2012 is against Croatia in Poznan on 10 June. The team is already scheduled to play the Czech Republic on 29 February.

Delaney also confirmed that the FAI had made representations to tournament organisers in a bid to secure extra tickets for supporters. The associations expects 20-25,000 Irish supporters to travel.

Speaking to Darren Frehill on Morning Ireland, he said: "I am hopeful that we might get some extra tickets as we get nearer to the Euros. We have made representations. We have got 6,000 tickets per game, they'll all go.

"We are going to try to secure some extra tickets for the supporters because it is in our interest and everybody’s interest to get as many Irish people into those three games as possible to encourage the team and get behind the team."

With Ireland set to play Croatia, Italy and defending champions Spain at Euro 2012, not everyone will be convinced by the strength of the opposition for the warm-ups.

Delaney insists that staying within Europe was the right choice, and that Bosnia and Herzegovina are the ideal opposition ahead of the Euro 2012 opening match against Croatia.

He said: "The Czech Republic have qualified, to be fair. They are one of the 16 teams that are there. There was a rule that you could not played one of the top 16 teams within 30 days of the Euros.

"I don’t think they (teams outside Europe) suited. I think it was best to get somebody who will play a similar style of football so we got Bosnia, who are 19th in the world and are very similar to Croatia."

"The manager felt it would be right to play a similar type nation to prepare properly. The first game is a really important game."

An England friendly was mooted but after the draw it became clear that the sides could meet in a quarter-final, and that means the much anticipated friendly will have to wait a little longer.

"We hoped to play them in May but that was something that their manager didn’t want to do. There is a possibility that we will play England in the quarter-final if both countries progress. But that will happen sooner rather than later."

Delaney said that tickets would be available at low prices for the Czech Republic fixture. Adult stand tickets will be available from €20, while general admission tickets for children are €10.

"We want to continue with the great atmosphere that was there after the Estonia match and during the Estonia match."

"I think everybody is reducing their prices. The GAA have done it, the IRFU have done it and we have donie it. This is a game at the end of February, after Christmas which makes it important because people have spent money during Christmas."

He added: "It is a 'thank you' to a lot of the supporters who have turned up to our matches but also an encouragement to many of the supporters who came to the Estonia game in November and the Armenia game in October to try and keep them coming to our matches to support the team."

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