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After missing out on the 2014 World Cup, the Republic of Ireland are back at an international tournament having qualified via the play-offs for Euro 2016.

Martin O’Neill’s side finished third behind world champions Germany and Poland in their qualifying group and then came through a two-leg play-off against Bosnia-Herzegovina, drawing 1-1 away and then winning 2-0 at home through a Jon Walters double.

The Republic have been drawn in a tough group for the tournament in France which contains two live contenders for the title in Italy and Belgium, along with Sweden and the threat posed by their prolific striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Ireland Fixtures

Monday June 13 – Sweden (17:00 BST, Stade de France, Paris)

Saturday June 18 – Belgium (14:00 BST, Bordeaux)

Wednesday June 22 – Italy (20:00 BST, Lille)

Click here for the full list of upcoming Group E Fixtures.

Top 3 Ireland Bets

1) To finish bottom of Group E – 5/4 @ Unibet

The Republic were outclassed in 2012 when they lost all their three European Championship matches to Croatia, Spain and Italy and the fear has to be that something similar will occur again.

Italy and Belgium are among the world’s top football nations, while also having to go up against a top-class striker in Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be a very difficult proposition.

2) Robbie Keane top Republic of Ireland goalscorer @ 4/1 with BetVictor

There may not be many goals coming the Republic’s way in France – they bagged only one at Euro 2012 – but veteran striker Keane looks the most likely man to get on the scoresheet.

Even in his mid-30s Keane remains a classy international operator and his scoring record for his country is simply phenomenal.

3) To draw with Sweden @ 43/19 with Marathonbet

The opening game for the Republic is simply massive because they just cannot afford to lose it, knowing they still have Italy and Belgium to come.

A draw would not be ideal but is likely to keep both the Irish and Sweden in with a chance of qualifying and it could be quite a cagey affair at the Stade de France.

Luck of the irish?

You never know with the Irish, they might get lucky yet. Here are some best odds prices if you're backing Ireland.

To win the tournament – 150/1 (bwin)

To reach the final – 66/1 (William Hill)

To win Group E – 12/1 (bwin)

To advance from Group E – 14/5 (bwin)

Ireland Squad

When will the Republic of Ireland squad be announced?

O’Neill has revealed he will name his party of 23 on Saturday May 28, three days before the deadline and the day after the Republic play a warm-up friendly match against the Netherlands.

Those who make the cut will travel to a week-long training base in Fota Island, Cork, where another friendly is due to be played against Belarus on Tuesday May 31.

Click here for latest updates on Ireland's Starting XI.

Key Players

ROBBIE KEANE

Although now 35 and playing for Los Angeles Galaxy in MLS, the striker remains his country’s talisman and has his sights set on the 150-cap milestone which he could reach if continuing his international career beyond the Euros.

The Republic’s record goalscorer by a very long way with 67 in 143 appearances, the former Tottenham Hotspur marksman will hope he has one big tournament left in him.

JOHN O’SHEA

The Sunderland defender scored the late equaliser that earned the Republic a famous 1-1 draw away to world champions Germany during the qualifying campaign.

He will be an important figure in marshalling the Irish defence against the potent attacks of their group-stage opponents in France.

GLENN WHELAN

An under-rated performer for his club Stoke City and his country, Whelan is an important cog in the midfield who helps to break down opposition attacks.

He will not come up with many goals himself but is more than happy to do the donkey work and is the sort of player his team-mates appreciate.

Manager – MARTIN O’NEILL

Although a Northern Irishman, O’Neill has been a natural fit into the Republic job since replacing Giovanni Trapattoni and can boast lots of Premier League managerial experience with Leicester City, Aston Villa and Sunderland, as well as a successful five-year spell at Celtic.

Along with his assistant Roy Keane, O’Neill combines for the archetypal ‘good cop-bad cop’ pairing which should get the best out of all players in the squad. His former Leicester colleagues Steve Walford and Steve Guppy are also part of the backroom team.

How Ireland got to the Euro

(goalscorers in brackets)

Georgia 1-2 Republic of Ireland (McGeady 2)

Republic of Ireland 7-0 Gibraltar (Keane 3, McClean 2, Hoolahan, OG)

Germany 1-1 Republic of Ireland (O’Shea)

Scotland 1-0 Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland 1-1 Poland (Long)

Republic of Ireland 1-1 Scotland (Walters)

Gibraltar 0-4 Republic of Ireland (Keane 2, Christie, Long)

Republic of Ireland 1-0 Georgia (Walters)

Republic of Ireland 1-0 Germany (Long)

Poland 2-1 Republic of Ireland (Walters)

Play-off

Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-1 Republic of Ireland (Brady)

Republic of Ireland 2-0 Bosnia-Herzegovina (Walters 2)

History in European Championship tournaments

1988 – Group stage (W1 D1 L1)

2012 – Group stage (W0 D0 L3)

2016 - ?


Fun fact about the Republic of Ireland

In 1977, Republic of Ireland player Noel Campbell was sent off for his part in a brawl just two minutes after going on as a substitute during a World Cup qualifier away to Bulgaria.

Four red cards were shown for the incident – another Republic player, Mick Martin, also received his marching orders along with two Bulgarians.

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