Dunphy with Irish international goalkeeper Emma Byrne yesterday.

Our 'sounder temperament' can take us past Croatia, says Dunphy

The RTE analyst is upbeat about Ireland’s prospects in Poznan on Sunday.

EAMON DUNPHY says he is optimistic of Ireland’s chances of getting a favourable result from their first Euro 2012 clash.

Group C begins with Spain v Italy before Ireland play Croatia in Poznan on Sunday evening and avoiding defeat is regarded as being a must if Giovanni Trapattoni’s side are to have any hope of progressing to the quarter-finals.

The eighth-place team in the world may be favourites, but pundit Dunphy, who will be previewing the games on Betfair,  said:

It’s a massive game. If we lose that we’ve got a big mountain to climb but I’m optimistic. What can see us through is our sounder temperament.

“If we get something on Sunday night – a win or a draw – then we’re set up. Then if it comes down to the last match and we have to beat Italy, I would be fairly confident that we could do that.

“Our record is excellent at big tournaments and part of that is down to morale and spirit of the group. Many of them have been together a long time and they bond well, whereas other countries have problems when they’re in camp and rows often break out.”

Trapattoni has spoken about the importance of winning the opener with Spain and Italy to follow next week but RTE panellist Dunphy isn’t expecting to see a new brand of attacking play from a team who have been rigid, organised and happy to concede the majority of possession over the past couple of years.

“I think his (Trapattoni) priority will be to not lose. Every team will go into the first group game a little bit tentative so I don’t think there will be any gung-ho stuff from any country, particularly Ireland.”

Goalkeeper Shay Given didn’t take full part in training yesterday and although assistant boss Marco Tardelli insisted he would be fit for match-day, doubts remain. However, Dunphy has faith in the record caps holder’s understudy, Keiren Westwood of Sunderland.

“At the moment I’d be worried about that as he didn’t train fully again today. He was great on Monday night (against Hungary) but the substitute was unexpected and I think he had hoped to play the whole game. Westwood is a very good replacement though, so I wouldn’t panic.

“He’s a very good goalkeeper. Every time I’ve seen him he’s been impressive. Everything about him is good – he’s calm, has good ball handling, and positionally strong. I wouldn’t have any problem if it had to be him.”

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