British Isles at Euro 2016 report: Republic of Ireland
Lee Gormley | July 12, 2016
Republic of Ireland Euro 2016 review
Following the conclusion of a fascinating Euro 2016 this summer, in which Portugal emerged as first-time victors in France, Coral are reviewing each of the British Isles nations’ performances across the Channel.
Next, we look at Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland, so read on to see who starred and flopped for the Boys in Green this summer…
Stage of elimination: last 16
The Irish gallantly rallied into the last 16 thanks to a late victory over Italy in their final group game, setting up an encounter with host nation France, which they ultimately lost despite another brave performance.
How they exited and why
O’Neill’s side started off incredibly well against France, with star man Robbie Brady confidently dispatching a penalty after just two minutes played, before Didier Deschamps’ men took charge in the second-half.
Eventual Golden Boot winner Antoine Griezmann tortured the Irish rearguard by bagging a brilliant brace, while centre back Shane Duffy was dismissed for bringing the dangerous forward down after the hour mark. The Boys in Green, despite being down to 10 men, were narrowly outdone 2-1 overall in this last 16 encounter.
Star player: Robbie Brady
Norwich City wideman Brady entered the tournament with plenty of hopes and expectations resting on his shoulders, and the set-piece specialist truly delivered as he enjoyed a sublime campaign on French soil.
The Canaries winger was crucial in the opening draw with Sweden, then popped up in the dying minutes against Italy with a thumping headed winner, before that well-taken spot-kick over the French.
Brady’s stock has definitely risen since his solid showings, with talk of a big-money move away from Carrow Road being heavily reported, and top-flight champions Leicester City being one potential destination.
Biggest revelation: Jeff Hendrick
Derby County midfielder Jeff Hendrick starred in qualifying for Ireland, helping them overcome many tough obstacles to successfully book a spot in France, but he continued his rise to prominence at the actual finals.
The Rams star was never afraid to get on the ball and came close to firing in himself on several occasions, with the Dubliner’s eye-catching performances proving he has a bright future in green and will be pivotal to any hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup (3/1 with Coral to reach Russia).
Flop: Ciaran Clark
It’s hard to determine a genuine flop within the Irish side after an overall gallant campaign from each player, but Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark could be a possible underperformer with his unfortunate own-goal against Sweden having cost his team two points.
They did manage a 1-1 draw, but Clark, who was also present in the 3-0 thrashing by Belgium, was subsequently dropped for the win over Italy and last 16 clash with France.
Managerial performance: Martin O’Neill
Derry-born boss O’Neill took charge of the Irish set-up following Giovanni Trapattoni’s departure and he made the job his own, instilling a great sense of pride, passion and drive within his inherited squad.
Alongside assistant coach Roy Keane, O’Neill has already enjoyed plenty of exciting moments during his reign, with the victory over Italy being the highlight of Euro 2016, and his new deal in the aftermath was fully deserved.
Final grade: B
It looked as if Ireland were about to exit at the group stage until Wes Hoolahan perfectly picked out clubmate Brady for the winner over Italy, a moment which helped lift the spirits of an entire nation and made sure of another outing in France.
Although it didn’t fully go to plan in the meeting with Les Bleus, exiting at the hands of the eventual runners-up brings no shame and Ireland’s performances overall, as well as the fans’ behaviour on their travels, were something to be proud of.