Trapattoni vows to have his troops spot on
A trip to Sunday's FAI Cup final reminded Giovanni Trapattoni of the importance of penalty shoot-outs, and the Irish boss will be encouraging his players to practise their spot-kicks this week.
The Italian hopes the Euro 2012 play-off is resolved long before that eventuality, but the arch-pragmatist will be preparing for a shoot-out.
However, the 72-year-old admitted he was astonished by Paul Cook's decision to replace his goalkeeper Brendan Clarke with penalty specialist Ciaran Kelly in the 119th minute of Sunday afternoon's marathon showdown at the Aviva Stadium.
He was watching with assistant Marco Tardelli and subsequently discussed the matter with goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly and they were all sceptical about the Sligo manager's call. Ultimately, it paid off with Kelly making the saves that won the cup for the Bit O'Red.
"I know that this goalkeeper (Kelly) saved four penalties last year, but for the other goalkeeper it was humiliation," said Trapattoni. "I wouldn't have changed, out of respect for the goalkeeper (Clarke). Marco was saying 'sh*t, sh*t, sh*t'.
"But maybe he was thinking about the reaction he would get from the opponent.
"Maybe he thought about the mental factor, that when the other players (Shelbourne) went to shoot the penalty, they thought about this goalkeeper from last year.
"I don't know if (Cook) went through the same process, but that's how I analysed it."
Trapattoni has fond memories of a penalty shoot-out success with Juventus in the 1985 Inter-Continental Cup, and has mulled over who might be called upon if Ireland end up in that scenario. Rather than allowing the players to volunteer, he insists that he would have a say in who took the kicks.
"Also, after two hours of a game, it might depend on their physical condition," he explained. Kevin Doyle, Stephen Hunt, Aiden McGeady and Damien Duff were namechecked, although he seemed to be pointing out that it depends who is on the pitch at that point.
Trapattoni believes penalties have already had a big impact in the Euro 2012 campaign. He repeatedly cites Robbie Keane's unsuccessful attempt in Zilina and revealed he had a bad feeling before his skipper stepped up last October.
The logic was that Keane had scored a penalty against Russia four days earlier, giving Slovakian 'keeper Jan Mucha the chance to research about which way to go.
Clearly, Trapattoni will be instructing Shay Given to do his homework; he has already advised the Donegal man about Estonian midfielder Konstantin Vassiljev, who is renowned for his prowess from set-piece situations.