Paul McShane: Ireland have the hard edge to progress
DEFENDER Paul McShane is confident Giovanni Trapattoni has made the Republic of Ireland harder to beat since their last bout of play-off misery.
Ireland head into Friday night's Euro 2012 play-off opener in Estonia determined not to suffer the fate which befell them in Paris two years ago once again.
That night, France edged past them in controversial circumstances at the Stade de France, but while the bitter memories remain for those who were there, there is a new resilience about Trapattoni's squad.
McShane said: "All the players know what he wants. We watch videos of us playing after every game and leading up to the games, we will look at things we have done.
"He has got the 'not-to-be-beaten' attitude, and that's definitely rubbed off on the players.
"The players have played really well under him. We have got a solid base and teams find us hard to break down.
"It's good to be hard to beat."
Ireland have proved so hard to beat that nobody has managed it in their past nine games, a run which has seen them concede a single goal after eight successive clean sheets.
Another shut-out in Tallinn would provide the perfect platform to complete the job at the Aviva Stadium next Tuesday, although nobody will be allowed to think too far ahead.
Hull defender McShane said: "We have got a good, honest bunch of lads, so I don't think we will be getting away because football has that habit of turning around and kicking in the private parts.
"You can't take your eye off the ball. You have to prepare properly and you can't go into games over-confident or you will be punished."
McShane was perhaps the closest man to Thierry Henry the night his handball offence went unpunished and effectively cost the Republic their chance of a trip to the World Cup finals in South Africa.
But he is hoping fortune may favour his team this time around.
The 25-year-old said: "The lads were very upset about it at the time, and it still mentally scars you.
"When you think back, it hurt a lot to be knocked out in that manner.
"We are hungry to qualify for a major tournament and we have got a great opportunity now.
"Obviously, it was well documented, the last game with the handball and stuff, but hopefully that bit of luck is on our side this time.
"They are two massive games. We haven't qualified for a major tournament in a while. The lads know that and hopefully this time, we will get there."