Euro 2012 diary
As a major tournament draws closer, we have reached the time where pundits discuss the quality of footballs at length. The Jabulani proved desperately unpopular in South Africa two years ago. The 'Adidas Tango 12' will take the limelight in Poland and Ukraine, and it's designed to be easier to control.
Ireland's players have adjusted to them in Italy this week, with Stephen Hunt stating that the main benefit of Tuesday's friendly win over a local select was the match practice with the 'Tango'.
"They're good, to be fair," said Hunt. "I quite enjoy using them. It's just a question of getting your set-pieces right with them. I probably overhit a few corners -- a fair few were going to the back stick when I wasn't meaning to send it there, so it's probably a question of just judging the delivery."
With another week's practice to come, there can be no excuses.
st ledger almost gets collared for being a dedicated follower of fashion
Obviously, a lot of the Irish players are spending time online while they are away, and defender Sean St Ledger used the world wide web to do some research before the midweek trip to Florence.
While other players travelled with a desire to see some art -- Stephen Kelly is challenging a stereotype of footballers -- St Ledger had something else in mind. "There was a shop there that I'd seen on the internet, and I just went there," he said.
Cue puzzled stares. What kind of special shop does one find on the internet? With haste, the defender needed to clarify his intentions. "It was a just a clothes shop," he stressed.
Fair enough so.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
1 Just a solitary Irish player wore a pair of old-school black football boots in yesterday's training session in Montecatini. Who do you think? Of course, it had to be Richard Dunne, who shunned the multi-coloured options favoured by his team-mates. John O'Shea's weren't too garish either. At the opposite end of the scale, we have Keiren Westwood, who will never go missing in the dark once he brings his pair out with him.
italian phrase of the day
"Ho incontrato il capitano Farrell e il suo denaro era conteggio." --
Meaning, "I met with Captain Farrell, and his money he was counting." You may remember it as a line from 'Whiskey In The Jar', a tune that you'd imagine few Italians would know. Not so. On Thursday night, a reception was thrown for media where a local band named How Now Brown Cow turned up and put their own slant on a variety of traditional and contemporary Irish tunes. They even managed a version of 'Rocky Road to Poland', the official Euro 2012 song, and dedicated it to the late Dubliners legend Barney McKenna. The five-piece band have minimal English, so their performance of a variety of tunes was pretty impressive.