11:08pm Monday 21st May 2012
© Press Association 2014
Striker Kevin Doyle insists it would be far from madness to consider the Republic of Ireland as potential Euro 2012 champions.
The odds are heavily stacked against Giovanni Trapattoni's team as they attempt to fight their way out of a group which also includes Spain, Italy and Croatia. However, Doyle and his team-mates will head for Poland and Ukraine with the Italian reminding them of what Greece did in 2004 when they shocked the rest of the continent by going all the way in Portugal.
Doyle said: "If you are in it, you have a chance. I don't think it's madness. The manager has used the example plenty of times of Greece. But the toughest part really is getting out of our group because it's so difficult. But it shows whenever we play the big teams, we compete and do well in these tournaments."
He went on: "We seem to get out of the group stages - the quarter-final in 1990 and the World Cup in 1994, we got through the group, and the  World Cup, we got through the group, so we have a good history when we have been involved in the Euros or World Cups.
"We have all seen Irish teams do well in World Cups, so hopefully that will rub off on us."
Doyle has been one of the mainstays of Trapattoni's squad over the last four years, for much of it the manager's first-choice strike-partner for skipper Robbie Keane.
The 28-year-old Wolves frontman knows from personal experience that Ireland can be a match for anyone on their day, as Italy in particular have discovered in the recent past.
Trapattoni's native country could not beat his current charges either home or away in the last World Cup qualifying campaign, and succumbed 2-0 in a friendly in the Belgian city of Liege last summer.
For that reason, while Doyle and his team-mates know they have a major challenge on their hands, they are equally aware that none of their Group C opponents will take them lightly.
The striker said: "I hope not - Italy won't, I am sure, because they have experienced it three times in the last few years. Last summer was a great result for us and they will know what to expect. Our manager, I think, gets that little bit more excited when we are playing Italy than normal as well."
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