IT'S THE BIG send-off, the going away-party Irish football has been waiting a decade for, the last home game before Euro 2012 kicks off.
Sadly, the Ireland team doesn't "do" farewells very well: on the last two occasions when the Irish side went to a major finals, the last home game before the team travelled was a disaster, losing in Dublin to Nigeria (2002) and the Czech Republic (2002), while even the send-off before Italia '90 was a relative damp squib (1-1 draw against Finland).
Planning a big party can backfire: just ask the Dutch, who hoped that their side would sail off to glory at Euro 2004 with a morale-boosting win over Ireland in Amsterdam, but instead a weakened Irish side, containing fringe players like Alan Maybury, Graham Barrett, Alan Quinn and Michael Doyle beat the Dutch 1-0 and instead of a victory parade, Holland's players had to perform a lap of dishonour.
Ireland had a similar experience before USA '94, as what was planned as a glitzy going-away ceremony turned into a disaster with a 3-1 win for the Czechs, a game where Alan Kernaghan played himself out of the Irish team for the finals.
So the FAI can plan to have party hats and streamers for the fans but Bosnia could decide to be party-poopers and upset the home side (and odds of 3/1 for a Bosnia win today look very tasty).
"It would be great if all the fans came out and gave us a send-off, you want to win every game you go in to, and it would be good if we could put on a show," said Robbie Keane.
"But if we don't put on a show today, I'd much rather we put on a show when we're in Poland and do it that way.
"It's always nice for the players to know that the fans support them and I hope they will be out in big numbers today.
"We certainly weren't going there to let them beat us," added Keane, referring to that famous win in Holland under Brian Kerr in 2004, "and I'm sure that will be the case with Bosnia today, we have to be professional and use it as preparation but we don't want to lose any game."
A classy Bosnia side come to Dublin looking to prove their pedigree, but so much of the talk around the Irish camp this week has been about medical updates on Irish players with no thought of who will play for the away side, with even Keane -- who so rarely misses an international -- a doubt due to a hamstring injury.
"When you come to a major tournament like this the last thing you want is to get a few niggles, but you'd prefer to get a niggle than a bad injury, so the lads are flying as the manager has said. It was more of a precaution for Shay to go to London, he knew it wasn't too bad but in his own mind he just wanted to be sure," says Keane of team-mate Shay Given, who sits out today's match.
"Richard (Dunne) was the same, he knew he might be okay towards the end of the week. When you've played for so long and get little niggles, it's amazing what one or two days can do for you.
"People from the outside might think how can a day or two make a difference but it does," added Keane, who admitted that his own injury, picked up in LA, was only briefly a concern.
"We played the week before on Astroturf, and the same happened last year, I did my glute last season and was out for three weeks after playing on the Astroturf. I'm not used to playing on the Astroturf, some of the lads over there are used to it but my body reacts different from someone else as I am so used to playing on grass. The hamstring tightened up, I couldn't sprint or even go at three-quarter pace, so I went for a scan and luckily enough it wasn't a tear and I was happy with that," he says.
"With the game on the Saturday the physios made the decision to keep me out of the Chivas game because I could easily have pulled it if I had carried on.
"I knew it wasn't too bad but I knew there was something there. The physio said there was a little nerve in the hamstring but it seems to have settled down well. I trained the last few days and thankfully I'm okay."
He's fit enough to start up front today, aware that there is pressure on himself and Kevin Doyle from the trio of back-up strikers.
"Everyone is desperate to play in that first game, so I think the intensity and the level of performance is naturally going to go up, every player wants to get picked by the manager," Keane says.
"As strikers at club level, the lads have been doing very well, so whoever the manager picks from the five of us we just have to make the most of it, that we stake a claim and stay in the team."