Ireland can end Euro 2016 preparations on a high with Belarus success
Lee Gormley | May 30, 2016
Republic of Ireland v Belarus
- International friendly
- Tuesday, May 31st
- Kick-off: 19:45 BST
- Turner’s Cross, Cork
- Live on Premier Sports
Irish battle Belarus in final warm-up game
Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland will look to end their Euro 2016 preparations on a positive note when they face Belarus in their final friendly encounter in Cork, before jetting off to France, with the hosts having suffered just one defeat in their last 13 matches.
The Boys in Green have also kept six clean sheets during that impressive run of form, which has boosted their beliefs of making more of an impact this summer than they did in the finals four years ago under former coach Giovanni Trapattoni.
O’Neill and his men will take to Turner’s Cross just days after being held to a 1-1 draw by the Netherlands in Dublin, with a late Luuk de Jong equaliser cancelling out Shane Long’s opener, but the Irish are 6/5 with Coral to prevail without conceding this time out.
Their opponents Belarus recently tasted a 3-0 defeat to Northern Ireland, though that result ended a strong run of five games without losing, and Alyaksandr Khatskevich’s side are 11/2 to come away from their visit with a surprise victory.
Coleman inspired by Leicester heroics
After a season which saw Leicester City crowned as shock Premier League champions, Ireland right back Seamus Coleman is inspired by such success and hopes his side can repeat their qualifying heroics in France.
The Everton defender believes the Irish can banish memories of that disappointing Euro 2012 campaign when they lost all three group games to Spain, Italy and Croatia, a tournament which the Donegal-born full back missed out on.
“We’re a hard team to beat and we can score goals,” sais Coleman, who is 7/1 to net anytime in Dublin. “Everyone wants to work hard for each other and a lot of that comes from the manager.
“He [O’Neill] gives us time away from the hotel now and again and we appreciate that. It’s like you want to reward him for how well he is with us.
“I’m sure everyone references Leicester City, and what a fairytale that was. Every one of them got back into position and it was a lesson for all the talented teams. There might be more talented players at club level but I’d rather have lads that work hard.”
O’Neill set to make changes
Ireland boss O’Neill is expected to rotate his line-up for this clash after the Dutch draw, as he prepares to give some fringe players a last chance to shine ahead of naming his final squad for France, with the announcement deadline being 11pm following the game on Tuesday night.
Everton midfielder James McCarthy could be rested ahead of the tournament in June, while club teammate Darron Gibson, and Bournemouth duo Harry Arter and Eunan O’Kane may be handed further time to impress on home soil.
Cherries playmaker Arter enjoyed an impressive outing against the Netherlands and is 7/2 to strike here, with fellow midfielders Callum O’Dowda (3/1 anytime), James McClean (7/2), Jeff Hendrick (9/2) and Aiden McGeady (11/2) also hoping to feature.
Long set to continue rampant run?
Up front, Southampton sharpshooter Long is 4/1 to follow up his recent Dutch goal with another opener at Turner’s Cross, while Jonathan Walters is 6/4 to get on the scoresheet. Fringe forwards Kevin Doyle and Daryl Murphy are 9/5 and 5/4 respectively to boost their final squad chances by dispatching anytime.
It’s believed that Ireland’s all-time scorer Robbie Keane will retire after the Euros, and the Dubliner is said to have been distraught after being denied a farewell outing at Lansdowne Road, where his illustrious career in green began almost two decades ago. He is 5/1 to bag the game’s last goal in Cork though.
For the visitors, Shakhtyor Soligorsk frontman Mikalay Yanush, who was the Belarusian Premier League’s top scorer in both 2014 and 2015, is 11/4 to find the target, with fellow attacker Mikhail Gordejchuk 7/2 to strike anytime.
The Irish will hold high hopes going to France this summer after gallant qualifying displays and they will aim to maintain their solid streak against Belarus, before embarking on their hopeful journey to Euro 2016, where their opening fixture falls on June 13th against a Zlatan Ibrahimovic led Sweden.