Connolly hoping for strong showing from Ireland

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The former Boys in Green striker believes Martin O'Neill's side can do well at Euro 2016, but need a strong start to the tournament

Former Republic of Ireland striker David Connolly says that the Boys in Green must 'take nothing for granted' if they are to have a successful Euro 2016.

The 39-year-old played for Ireland at the 2002 World Cup, and believes that Martin O'Neill's side can do well at this summer's European Championship.

"I’m really hoping they have a good tournament," the former Wimbledon striker told the Portsmouth News.

"I hope they do well. The longer they stay in it the better it is for the country. The last one, obviously, ended quite early and there was massive disappointment for the fans who went over there."

Four years ago, Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland lost all three group games, but Connolly believes the tournament's expansion to 24 teams in 2016 could help the Boys in Green. Ireland start their campaign against Sweden on June 10, before meeting Belgium and Italy, and the 41-time international feels a result against Erik Hamren's men would set them on their way to a successful showing.

"They’ll have to have a good start, and then it will be a really good test," Connolly said.

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"The tournament has expanded and is not as difficult as it was previously. But once you get into these games there are no easy fixtures.

"They are all, tactically, really competent and there are no easy matches. You sometimes get this in qualifying – some games are easily winnable – but in a competition format you can take nothing for granted.

"The team have to start well and be tactically astute, which didn’t happen in the last Euros. And, as always, Ireland have to be stronger as a team than maybe the sum of their individual parts."

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