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'The 23 who go will be ready to do the country proud'

Squad cut was a difficult moment for Ireland’s band of brothers, says Richard Keogh.

Keogh: named captain for final Euro 2016 warm-up game.
Keogh: named captain for final Euro 2016 warm-up game.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

RICHARD KEOGH PROMISES that Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad will be ready to do the country proud this summer.

Martin O’Neill named his final 23 on Tuesday night as attention now turns firmly to the Group E opener against Sweden.

Keogh, who was captain for the shock 2-1 defeat to Belarus, is one of eight defenders named to travel to France.

But the Derby County centre-half admitted that it was a difficult moment as O’Neill revealed the final cuts — and informed those who had just missed out.

“It’s not nice,” Keogh said.  ”We’ve been together a long time.

“It’s a tough decision for the manager and we all feel that together because we’re so close.

We’ve all been through it together throughout the campaign to help the country qualify. It’s not a nice feeling but we’ll all rally around together and the people who go will be ready.

“Unfortunately, that’s football. It’s not nice and I’m sure the manager will talk to you and explain how tough it was.

“The people who go, we’ve got to make sure that we’re ready — and we are.

“We’ve been on a great run apart from the result today.

“The 23 who go will be ready to do the country proud.”

After missing out on promotion to the Premier League with Derby again this season, Keogh can now put that club disappointment behind him and look forward to his first major international tournament.

“At Derby the aim was to get promoted and we just fell short again, but the performance in the second leg was very good.

“Personally I’ve had a very good season, I was lucky enough to win Player of the Year at Derby, and I’ve got to make sure I take that form when I’m playing for my country.”

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Niall Kelly

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