Players unfazed by unruly pupils

The Leaving Certificate may be in full swing at home but Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad slept through the worst excesses of the local ‘School’s Out’ party which took place just a few hundred yards from the team hotel on Sopot’s beach front on Tuesday night.

A few thousand Polish students began assembling in the town’s main street as the sun went down and soon there was a wave of teenagers clutching bottles of local beers and shuffling in pairs and small groups down the main drag and through the main square.

The route took them past the lines of bars, restaurants and nightclubs, the Irish team’s Sheraton Hotel and finally onto the sand where they celebrated their end of term clustered on the darkened shoreline on what just happened to be the Republic’s first night in Poland.

“I thought it was quiet, to be honest with you,” said midfielder Stephen Hunt. “And that’s important. I had a little stroll in town. It’s a nice area, a good location. Everything is perfect, so no excuses.”

Ireland’s players were afforded a day off on Wednesday to wander around the pleasant coastal town before returning to work in Gdynia yesterday. Robbie Keane was one of those who passed the time with a relaxing spa but his calm demeanour was ruffled ever so briefly yesterday when it was put to him that the ‘Financial Times’ had rated Ireland as the least valuable squad in the tournament.

“They said that, did they? The cheapest squad? I totally disagree. The Financial Times know that, don’t they? They love all that money,” he said. “We’re not going into this competition to make the numbers up, we’re here to do as well as we can for the country and hopefully go as far as we can. We go into every game believing we can win it.”

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