A rejuvenated Scotland have been flavour of the month for hysteria generators across the home nations.
Following on from a strong finale to their World Cup qualifying campaign, Gordon Strachan’s men kicked off their Euro 2016 equivalent with a courageous performance against world champions Germany in a game they were unfortunate to lose.
But while hype has been encouraging punters to back the 21/10 that the Scots qualify for their first major tournament since 1998, Ireland and their 7/5 to progress have slipped under the radar somewhat.
Martin O’Neill’s outfit rank as a much better bet to follow die Mannschaft out of Group D, with a case to be made that they’re even superior to one-man show and second-place favourites Poland in the betting.
Compared to the Tartan Army, Ireland are tournament qualification aficionados, having sampled World Cup 2002 as well as the previous all-European affair in 2012.
Had it not been for an act of shameless cheating from Thierry Henry when the nation then managed by Giovanni Trapattoni took on France in the World Cup 2010 play-offs, it would’ve been three majors they’d advanced to.
As far as the current qualification picture looks, the Irish are three points better off than pool-mates Scotland and will finish the next batch of games with at least two wins in the bag.
The Scots travel to Poland for their third fixture, meaning they’re likely to have just one win to show from their opening trio of matches at best.
Then there’s the Roy Keane effect to consider.
O’Neill-managed teams are renowned for their organisation and defensive prowess and judging from the improvement to Aston Villa’s backline since the bearded number two started assisting Paul Lambert, Ireland’s rearguard will become near impenetrable over this campaign.
The Villans may have leaked eight without reply in their last three, but they came against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.
When facing foes of similar stature (Stoke, Newcastle and Hull) just one goal was shipped and they were even capable of shutting out Liverpool at Anfield prior to this porous spell.
Replicating these standards will ensure the men from the Emerald Isle do the business against the likes of Scotland and Poland and makes them worthwhile bets to qualify.