Friday 21 October 2016

Martin O'Neill opts for Fota base for Euro 201 preparations

Published 06/02/2016 | 02:30

'Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill was looking for a camp closer to home, to facilitate family time for the players' Photo: Sportsfile
'Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill was looking for a camp closer to home, to facilitate family time for the players' Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland's preparations for Euro 2016 will contrast sharply from the lead-up to 2012 after it was confirmed that Martin O'Neill's side will stay at home for their pre-tournament training camp.

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Options in Austria, Spain and England were explored but the FAI have opted to relocate to Roy Keane's home county Cork for a five-day gathering at the Fota Island Resort.

They will head south on Monday, May 30, three days after the Dublin friendly with Holland, and will stay at the facility until Friday, June 3.

O'Neill and Keane toured Fota last year and were satisfied with the set-up.

West Ham, Watford, Leeds, Birmingham and Burnley have visited in recent years along with academy sides from Liverpool and Manchester United and FAI underage panels.

The two full-sized football training pitches at Fota have been built to the highest specifications, while the hotel complex offers a gym, team room, physio facility and swimming and hydrotherapy pools.

"I've been to a number of potential sites and we've decided on Fota Island Resort because it offers everything we need right here on our doorstep," explained O'Neill.

The Ireland boss had spoken last month about the need to get the balance right ahead of the departure for France.

He is aware that the players did not enjoy Giovanni Trapattoni's strategy ahead of 2012 which involved an eight-day camp in Italy, a friendly in Budapest and then travelling straight to Poland - a schedule that meant the group had spent over a fortnight together away from home before their opener with Croatia.

Mental fatigue set in, with Jonathan Walters admitting before Christmas that it felt like a 'prison camp' as access to family was restricted in this period.

O'Neill's approach is different and he was looking at a camp closer to home that would facilitate family time ahead of the Euros.

It's likely that the squad will have a couple of days off after Fota before gathering in Dublin again ahead of flying to France on June 8 - five days ahead of the opener with Sweden.

"The players will be in France for what will be a long enough period, so it's good to keep them closer to home for the build-up to such a huge competition, and in a familiar environment," said O'Neill.

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council have outlined their €20m plans to renovate Dalymount Park, with Bohemians urging their supporters to make it an election issue for candidates in their constituency. Government funding will be required to deliver the full plan.

Irish Independent

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