Euro 2012 diary
There was brief confusion yesterday when training was opened to the cameras.
Giovanni Trapattoni tends to use his end-of-session matches to test his preferred XI, but the team that looked more senior contained Stephen Kelly at right-back, Darren O'Dea next to Richard Dunne at centre-half, and Jon Walters partnering Robbie Keane.
Now, the latter scenario is very likely for tomorrow, but the other situations caused a bit of head-scratching -- until it became apparent that it was an old-fashioned game of Dubs v Culchies, albeit with a twist.
There are eight Dublin-born members of the squad -- Dunne, Ward, O'Dea, Kelly, Duff, Whelan, Andrews and Keane. Walters qualifies through his Dublin-born mother.
However, with none of the three 'keepers having Dublin roots, Shay Given was recruited to that cause, along with Aiden McGeady. So, to be precise, it was Dublin & Donegal v Rest of Ireland. And the Culchies won, as John O'Shea revealed, with a broad grin.
familiar feel to sopot nightspot
Ireland's base in Sopot is a different animal this week compared to the build-up to the Croatian game.
The popular tourist town is a big hit for wealthy Poles.
Now, it's a mix of a variety of nationalities, all crowding along the main street. And thousands more piled in yesterday ahead of the much-anticipated clash between Poland and Russia.
Sopot certainly has its charms. The jewel in its crown is Sledzik, a late-night bar with €1 drinks that serves food until dawn.
Think a combination of Coppers, a chipper at 3.0 in the morning on St Patrick's Day, and the virus-ridden zombies in '28 Days Later'. Sopot, effectively, has no unemployment, but the owners of Sledzik will feel a recession come July.
CHANT OF THE DAY
"Oh Stephen Ireland, he used to be Irish but he's English now." -- This tune is derived from the familiar, "Oh, Trapattoni, he used to be Italian but he's Irish now" chant. The international exile from Cobh remains as popular as ever. Meanwhile, a strain of "Oh Paul McShane, he used to be Brazilian, but he's Irish now" was also audible in Sopot.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
28 Attempts on goal by Holland in their shock loss to Denmark, the highest by any of the 16 participants in their first game.