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As Giovanni Trapattoni's men look forward to their first major tournament since 2002, Al Hain-Cole casts his eye over where Irish luck might lie in Poland and Ukraine

Euro 2012 sees Republic of Ireland's long-awaited return to the big stage, taking part in their first international finals in a decade.

After such a long wait, every Irish player will be desperate to make the starting line-up for the opening game against Croatia on June 10.

However, Giovanni Trapattoni's successful qualification campaign was built on steady continuity, so it's no wonder that Paddy Power are offering small odds on the team to start Euro 2012, with seven players at 1/10 or lower.

Nevertheless, Kevin Doyle looks like good value at 11/10 (2.10) considering the Wolves striker started nine out of 12 games in qualifying.

The 'first Irishman to score' market offers more scope, with talismanic skipper Robbie Keane surely too good to pass up at 9/2 (5.50).

The LA Galaxy forward is the Republic's all-time top scorer with 53 goals, and his position as designated penalty taker helped him to bag eight goals in qualifying.

Keane's tally is head and shoulders above that of his team-mates, as second top-scorer in qualifying Doyle trailed behind his skipper with just two goals on the road to Poland and Ukraine. You can get 13/2 (7.50) on him to beat the nation's captain onto the scoresheet.

If Ireland are to have any joy in a tough group that also includes Spain and Italy, they may have to rely on their strength from set-pieces.

With that in mind, Richard Dunne's aerial threat makes him a serious contender to hit the back of the net this summer.

With an international goalscoring record of better than one in nine, the centre-back could be well worth a punt at 6/1 (7.00) to score in the tournament.

If you fancy a long shot, Trapattoni's favourite super-sub Keith Fahey featured in eight of 12 qualifying games and scored a vital winner away to Armenia, making his 14/1 (15.00) to score at any time look almost tempting.

Best Bet: Robbie Keane to score first Ireland goal at 9/2 (5.50) with Paddy Power

Value Bet: Richard Dunne to score at 6/1 (7.00)
 
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Alasdair Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Alasdair you can follow him on Twitter here.

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