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Monday 18 December 2017

Trap's stormy after lightning match shocker in Hungary

IT'S been a rocky road, but Ireland finally touched down in Poland today.

And it followed a night being lashed by the elements - and facing an onslaught from a home team that hasn't even qualified for Euro 2012.

The Irish squad started their Euro adventure in earnest hen they landed in Gdansk in the early hours of this morning after the Hungarian tie and time spent in Tuscany.

They put the wet and misery of Budapest behind them with the words of Giovanni Trapattoni ringing in their ears -- after the fiery Italian went ballistic after their final warm up match.

Trapattoni has threatened that the players he selected for next week's opener with Croatia could be dumped from the team after a tired performance against Hungary last night.

The boss watched as his preferred team, the team he had said would start against Croatia, was picked apart by a mid-ranked eam.

But despite the warm welcome, Trapattoni was not in good mood after the final warm-up game highlighted some of Ireland's vulnerabilities in midfield.

Ireland's players feared that last night's game against Hungary in a rain-sodden Budapest could be called off due to the weather conditions.

The game, Ireland's last warm-up match before the Euro 2012 finals begin, started 20 minutes late due to the torrential rain and safety fears over the state of the Budapest pitch -- which striker Kevin Doyle described as "like a sponge" -- and also the threat from lightning, but at one point it was feared that the game would not go ahead at all.

That would have been a real annoyance for the 350-strong Irish support in Hungary last night, especially for the fans who had made the trip out to Budapest for the game and who are returning to Ireland for a few days before heading east again to catch Sunday's Euro 2012 opener in Poznan against Croatia.

A cancellation would also have been a massive headache for Giovanni Trapattoni as he was desperate to see injury concerns Shay Given and John O'Shea get some game time under their belts after they were forced to miss the international against Bosnia in Dublin.

"Yeah, there were fears of a postponement," said striker Kevin Doyle.

"It wasn't just a sudden thunderstorm. When we went inside for the 10 minute delay, it seemed to get worse.

"I'm glad it went ahead. We needed that time in our legs. I needed the 45 minutes, and the lads did too," added Doyle after winning his 48th senior cap.

"It was a tough enough game. The conditions made it very difficult, it was very energy-sapping out there but that will have done us the world of good, a lot of lads got on and a lot of people played and we looked as solid as always."

Ireland's group C opponents also have injury worries.

Italy has a concern over Manchester City man Mario Balotelli, and Croatia -- our first opponents at the finals in Poznan next Sunday -- had their striker Ivica Olic ruled out of the tournament due to injury.

"It's not a blow, it's not a problem -- it's a disaster for us, he is a big player, we have many big players but Olic you can't replace," Croatia's coach Slaven Bilic said after the game in Hungary last night, where he had been on a spying mission ahead of Sunday's game.

"In Europe there are no other players like him, so it's not just a massive blow, it is more than that," Bilic added.

hnews@herald.ie

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