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THE Irish team for Euro 2000 was unveiled yesterday - but not by Mick McCarthy.

In fact the Republic's manager is playing up front for the opposition, in the battle of the box.

RTE has revealed the only Irish 11 that will be going to Holland and Belgium for the festival of football, which opens tomorrow.

And they're hoping a mix of seasoned internationals and young blood will help kick the opposition into touch.

The tournament is set to be an advertising moneyspinner for Montrose if it can win the ratings war.

RTE has pulled out all the stops for its Euro 2000 coverage, with plans to air 25 games live up to the final on July 2nd.

And Head of Sport Tim O'Connor is confident he has named the right team to thrash rivals BBC and ITV, who will also be after a share of the Irish soccer audience.

In Goal: Bill O'Herlihy. RTE's 'Mr Dependable,' described as the safest pair of hands in the business.

A solid defensive line-up anchored by veteran centre halves Jimmy Magee and George Hamilton.

Adding a touch of youth to help out the experienced duo will be commentators Stephen Alkin, Daragh Moloney and Sharon Monaghan - the only woman in Ireland's Euro 2000 line-up.

RTE's bid for ratings glory will really hinge on its midfield generals, Dunphy, Giles, Brady and Beglin.

The foursome have a proven track record at the top level and are capable of upsetting the opposition with a slick blend of insight and laughs.

For the first time Dunphy will also fill in as substitute goalkeeper for O'Herlihy.

The lone striker for the Montrose team qualifies via the 'granny rule.' Wales, Liverpool and Real Madrid legend John Toshack could be the surprise package of the tournament.

RTE chief O'Connor said night: "With Eamonn in a presenting role alongside Bill, and the new Ask Apres programme, Network Two is undoubtedly the station to watch for this year's championship.

"I am looking forward to it. I am also delighted we have got John Toshack to join our team for the tournament."

However, RTE will face stiff competition from TV's footballing heavyweights, ITV and BBC.

The Beeb has even given a late call-up to Irish manager Mick McCarthy as he won't have any other interest in Euro 2000.

In fact the channel has poached several top Irish players in the battle for viewers, including David O'Leary, Martin O'Neill and Mark Lawrenson.

Other major threats to Montrose will be anchor Gary Lineker and defender Alan Hansen.

ITV line out around telly favourite Des Lynham and a more English looking team that includes three former England managers.

Here is how RTE's opposition will line out when the tournament kicks off tomorrow:

ITV: THE ANCHORMAN - Des Lynam. DEFENCE - Bob Wilson, Barry Venison, Gabby Yorath, David Pleat. MIDFIELD - Ally McCoist, Clive Tyldesley, Ron Atkinson. ATTACK - Glenn Hoddle, Bobby Robson, Terry Venables.

BBC: THE ANCHORMAN - Gary Lineker. DEFENCE - Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson, Trevor Brooking, Ray Stubbs. MIDFIELD - Martin O'Neill, John Motson, Barry Davies, David O'Leary. ATTACK - Mick McCarthy and Ruud Gullit.

The kick-off is tomorrow night, and if the sides are tied at full-time, RTE has a secret weapon in its hilarious 'apres-match' comedy team that will easily defeat the opposition in a penalty shoot-out.

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Copyright 2000 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Leslie, Neil
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 9, 2000
Previous Article:Football Euro 2000: LET THE GAMES BEGIN.
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