Football: Hoping for some Irish luck

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But for Barry Dalton and Declan McKeown, there is confidence that a place in the knock-out stages will still be up for grabs when their nation faces Italy in Lille.

Following the Republic’s opening games against Sweden and Belgium, the two Islanders are set to make the six hour journey towards the Belgian border for their final tie with the 2006 World Cup winners on 22 June. The game represents a repeat of Euro 2012, when the Italians inflicted a third group defeat on Ireland in Poland, but Dalton has belief that Martin O’Neill’s side now have added strength.

‘It’s an open competition at the moment,’ he said. ‘I don’t think we’re the strongest but we are a lot better than we have been in the past. Saying that, if you ask me again after a week of the competition I might have a different answer.

‘We’re definitely underdogs, but that’s the good thing about the Euros, you don’t know what will happen. They’ve just got to dig deep.’

More in Monday’s JEP.

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